Parquet Format

Apache Parquet has the following characteristics:

  • Self-describing
  • Columnar format
  • Language-independent

Self-describing data embeds the schema or structure with the data itself. Hadoop use cases drive the growth of self-describing data formats, such as Parquet and JSON, and of NoSQL databases, such as HBase. These formats and databases are well suited for the agile and iterative development cycle of Hadoop applications and BI/analytics. Optimized for working with large files, Parquet arranges data in columns, putting related values in close proximity to each other to optimize query performance, minimize I/O, and facilitate compression. Parquet detects and encodes the same or similar data using a technique that conserves resources.

Apache Drill includes the following support for Parquet:

  • Querying self-describing data in files or NoSQL databases without having to define and manage schema overlay definitions in centralized metastores
  • Creating Parquet files from other file formats, such as JSON, without any set up
  • Generating Parquet files that have evolving or changing schemas and querying the data on the fly
  • Handling Parquet data types

Configuration Options

Option Description
autoCorrectCorruptDates See the Date Value Auto-Correction section below.
enableStringsSignedMinMax See Drill config option store.parquet.reader.strings_signed_min_max
blockSize See Drill config option store.parquet.block-size
pageSize See Drill config option
useSingleFsBlock See Drill config option store.parquet.writer.use_single_fs_block
writerCompressionType See Drill config option store.parquet.compression
writerLogicalTypeForDecimals See Drill config option store.parquet.writer.logical_type_for_decimals
writerUsePrimitivesForDecimals See Drill config option store.parquet.writer.use_primitive_types_for_decimals
writerFormatVersion See Drill config option store.parquet.writer.format_version

Reading Parquet Files

When a read of Parquet data occurs, Drill loads only the necessary columns of data, which reduces I/O. Reading only a small piece of the Parquet data from a data file or table, Drill can examine and analyze all values for a column across multiple files. You can create a Drill table from one format and store the data in another format, including Parquet.

Writing Parquet Files

CREATE TABLE AS (CTAS) can use any data source provided by the storage plugin. To write Parquet data using the CTAS command, set the session store.format option as shown in Configuring the Parquet Storage Format. Alternatively, configure the storage plugin to point to the directory containing the Parquet files.

Although the data resides in a single table, Parquet output generally consists of multiple files that resemble MapReduce output having numbered file names, such as 0_0_0.parquet in a directory.

Date Value Auto-Correction

As of Drill 1.10, Drill writes standard Parquet date values. Drill also has an automatic correction feature that automatically detects and corrects corrupted date values that Drill wrote into Parquet files prior to Drill 1.10.

By default, the automatic correction feature is turned on and works for dates up to 5,000 years into the future. In the unlikely event that Drill needs to write dates thousands of years into the future, turn the auto-correction feature off.

To disable the auto-correction feature, navigate to the storage plugin configuration and change the autoCorrectCorruptDates option in the Parquet configuration to “false”, as shown in the example below:

   "formats": {
       "parquet": {
         "type": "parquet",
         "autoCorrectCorruptDates": false

Alternatively, you can set the option to false when you issue a query, as shown in the following example:

   SELECT l_shipdate, l_commitdate FROM table(dfs.`/drill/testdata/parquet_date/dates_nodrillversion/drillgen2_lineitem`
   (type => 'parquet', autoCorrectCorruptDates => false)) LIMIT 1;

Configuring the Parquet Storage Format

To read or write Parquet data, you need to include the Parquet format in the storage plugin format definitions. The dfs plugin definition includes the Parquet format.

Use the store.format option to set the CTAS output format of a Parquet row group at the session or system level.

Use the ALTER command to set the store.format option.

ALTER SYSTEM|SESSION SET `store.format` = 'parquet';

Introduced in release: 1.20.

Optionally, set the Parquet format version. Parquet v2 introduced new data encodings which may affect file size and read/write performance. Run benchmarks with your own data to establish which works best in your environment and, if you require interoperable Parquet files, be aware that at the time of writing Parquet v1 has much wider support than does v2.

ALTER SYSTEM|SESSION SET `store.parquet.writer.format_version` = 'v2';

Also new in Drill 1.20 is an expanded set of compression codec choices as listed in the config option description. These can also have a significant impact on file size and read/write performance. If interoperability is a concern, the Snappy and gzip codecs have the widest support at the time of writing.

ALTER SYSTEM|SESSION SET `store.parquet.compression` = 'zstd';


Because of a mismatch between Drill's set of target platforms and those for which a suitable open source Brotli library is available, a Brotli codec is not bundled and must be separately installed into the jars/3rdparty subdirectory if you want to work with Parquet files that use Brotli. On Linux and macOS on amd64, the com.github.rdblue:brotli-codec is supported.

Configuring the Size of Parquet Files

Configuring the size of Parquet files by setting the store.parquet.block-size can improve write performance. The block size is the size of MFS, HDFS, or the file system.

The larger the block size, the more memory Drill needs for buffering data. Parquet files that contain a single block maximize the amount of data Drill stores contiguously on disk. Given a single row group per file, Drill stores the entire Parquet file onto the block, avoiding network I/O.

To maximize performance, set the target size of a Parquet row group to the number of bytes less than or equal to the block size of MFS, HDFS, or the file system using the store.parquet.block-size option, as shown:

ALTER SYSTEM|SESSION SET `store.parquet.block-size` = 536870912;

The default block size is 536870912 bytes.

Configuring the HDFS Block Size for Parquet Files

Drill 1.11 introduces the store.parquet.writer.use_single_fs_block option, which enables Drill to write a Parquet file as a single file system block without changing the default file system block size. Query performance improves when Drill reads Parquet files as a single block on the file system. When the store.parquet.writer.use_single_fs_block option is enabled, the store.parquet.block-size setting determines the block size of the Parquet files created. The default setting for the store.parquet.writer.use_single_fs_block option is ‘false’. Use the SET command to enable or disable the option, as shown:

ALTER SYSTEM|SESSION SET store.parquet.writer.use_single_fs_block = 'true|false';

Type Mapping

The high correlation between Parquet and SQL data types makes reading Parquet files effortless in Drill. Writing to Parquet files takes more work than reading. Because SQL does not support all Parquet data types, to prevent Drill from inferring a type other than one you want, use the cast function Drill offers more liberal casting capabilities than SQL for Parquet conversions if the Parquet data is of a logical type.

The following general process converts a file from JSON to Parquet:

  • Create or use an existing storage plugin that specifies the storage location of the Parquet file, mutability of the data, and supported file formats.
  • Take a look at the JSON data.
  • Create a table that selects the JSON file.
  • In the CTAS command, cast JSON string data to corresponding SQL types.

Example: Read JSON, Write Parquet

This example demonstrates a storage plugin definition, a sample row of data from a JSON file, and a Drill query that writes the JSON input to Parquet output.

Storage Plugin Definition

You can use the default dfs storage plugin installed with Drill for reading and writing Parquet files. The storage plugin needs to configure the writable option of the workspace to true, so Drill can write the Parquet output. The dfs storage plugin defines the tmp writable workspace, which you can use in the CTAS command to create a Parquet table.

Sample Row of JSON Data

A JSON file called sample.json contains data consisting of strings, typical of JSON data. The following example shows one row of the JSON file:

        {"camp_id":4,"keywords": ["go","to","thing","watch","made","laughing","might","pay","in","your","hold"]

CTAS Query

The following example shows a CTAS query that creates a table from JSON data shown in the last example. The command casts the date, time, and amount strings to SQL types DATE, TIME, and DOUBLE. String-to-VARCHAR casting of the other strings occurs automatically.

CREATE TABLE dfs.tmp.sampleparquet AS
(SELECT trans_id,
cast(`date` AS date) transdate,
cast(`time` AS time) transtime,
cast(amount AS double) amountm,
user_info, marketing_info, trans_info
FROM dfs.`/Users/drilluser/sample.json`);

The CTAS query does not specify a file name extension for the output. Drill creates a parquet file by default, as indicated by the file name in the output:

|  Fragment  | Number of records written |
| 0_0        | 5                         |
1 row selected (1.369 seconds)

You can query the Parquet file to verify that Drill now interprets the converted string as a date.

SELECT extract(year from transdate) AS `Year`, t.user_info.cust_id AS Customer
FROM dfs.tmp.`sampleparquet` t;

|    Year    |  Customer  |
| 2013       | 28         |
| 2013       | 86623      |
| 2013       | 11         |
| 2013       | 666        |
| 2013       | 999        |
5 rows selected (0.039 seconds)

For more examples of and information about using Parquet data, see “Evolving Parquet as self-describing data format – New paradigms for consumerization of Hadoop data”.

SQL Data Types to Parquet

The first table in this section maps SQL data types to Parquet data types, limited intentionally by Parquet creators to minimize the impact on disk storage:

SQL Type Parquet Type Description
BIGINT INT64 8-byte signed integer
N/A BYTE_ARRAY Arbitrarily long byte array
FLOAT FLOAT 4-byte single precision floating point number
DOUBLE DOUBLE 8-byte double precision floating point number
INTEGER INT32 4-byte signed integer
VARBINARY(12)* INT96 12-byte signed int

* Drill 1.10 and later can implicitly interpret the Parquet INT96 type as TIMESTAMP (with standard 8 byte/millisecond precision) when the store.parquet.reader.int96_as_timestamp option is enabled. In earlier versions of Drill (1.2 through 1.9) or when the store.parquet.reader.int96_as_timestamp option is disabled, you must use the CONVERT_FROM function for Drill to correctly interpret INT96 values as TIMESTAMP values.

About INT96 Support

As of Drill 1.10, Drill can implicitly interpret the INT96 timestamp data type in Parquet files when the store.parquet.reader.int96_as_timestamp option is enabled. For earlier versions of Drill, or when the store.parquet.reader.int96_as_timestamp option is disabled, you must use the CONVERT_FROM function,

The store.parquet.reader.int96_as_timestamp option is disabled by default. Use the [ALTER SYSTEM SESSION SET](/docs/alter-system/) command to enable the option. Unnecessarily enabling this option can cause queries to fail because the CONVERT_FROM(col, ‘TIMESTAMP_IMPALA’) function does not work when store.parquet.reader.int96_as_timestamp is enabled.

Using CONVERT_FROM to Interpret INT96

In earlier versions of Drill (1.2 through 1.9), you must use the CONVERT_FROM function for Drill to interpret the Parquet INT96 type. For example, to decode a timestamp from Hive or Impala, which is of type INT96, use the CONVERT_FROM function and the TIMESTAMP_IMPALA type argument:

SELECT CONVERT_FROM(timestamp_field, 'TIMESTAMP_IMPALA') as timestamp_field FROM `dfs.file_with_timestamp.parquet`;

Because INT96 is supported for reads only, you cannot use the TIMESTAMP_IMPALA as a data type argument with CONVERT_TO. You can convert a SQL TIMESTAMP to VARBINARY using the CAST function, but the resultant VARBINARY is not the same as INT96.

For example, create a Drill table after reading INT96 and converting some data to a timestamp.


t1.created_ts is an INT96 (or Hive/Impala timestamp) , t2.created_ts is a SQL timestamp. These types are not comparable. You cannot use a condition like t1.created_ts = t2.created_ts.

Configuring the Timezone

By default, INT96 timestamp values represent the local date and time, which is similar to Hive. To get INT96 timestamp values in UTC, configure Drill for UTC time.

SQL Types to Parquet Logical Types

Parquet also supports logical types, fully described on the Apache Parquet site. Embedded types, JSON and BSON, annotate a binary primitive type representing a JSON or BSON document. The logical types and their mapping to SQL types are:

SQL Type Drill Description Parquet Logical Type Parquet Description
DATE Years months and days in the form in the form YYYY-­MM-­DD DATE Date, not including time of day. Uses the int32 annotation. Stores the number of days from the Unix epoch, 1 January 1970.
VARCHAR Character string variable length UTF8 (Strings) Annotates the binary primitive type. The byte array is interpreted as a UTF-8 encoded character string.
None   INT_8 8 bits, signed
None   INT_16 16 bits, usigned
INT 4-byte signed integer INT_32 32 bits, signed
DOUBLE 8-byte double precision floating point number INT_64 64 bits, signed
None   UINT_8 8 bits, unsigned
None   UINT_16 16 bits, unsigned
None   UINT_32 32 bits, unsigned
None   UINT_64 64 bits, unsigned
DECIMAL* 38-digit precision DECIMAL Arbitrary-precision signed decimal numbers of the form unscaledValue * 10^(-scale)
TIME Hours, minutes, seconds, milliseconds; 24-hour basis TIME_MILLIS Logical time, not including the date. Annotates int32. Number of milliseconds after midnight.
TIMESTAMP Year, month, day, and seconds TIMESTAMP_MILLIS Logical date and time. Annotates an int64 that stores the number of milliseconds from the Unix epoch, 00:00:00.000 on 1 January 1970, UTC.
INTERVAL Integer fields representing a period of time depending on the type of interval INTERVAL An interval of time. Annotates a fixed_len_byte_array of length 12. Months, days, and ms in unsigned little-endian encoding.

* Starting in Drill 1.14, the DECIMAL data type is enabled by default.

Data Description Language Support

Parquet supports the following data description languages:

  • Apache Avro
  • Apache Thrift
  • Google Protocol Buffers

Implement custom storage plugins to create Parquet readers/writers for formats such as Thrift.