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How to use INFORMATION_SCHEMA in BigQuery?

How to use INFORMATION_SCHEMA in BigQuery?

Discover how to leverage the power of INFORMATION_SCHEMA in BigQuery with our comprehensive guide.

In the world of BigQuery, the INFORMATION_SCHEMA plays a crucial role. Understanding how to utilize this feature can greatly enhance your BigQuery experience. In this article, we'll delve into the intricacies of INFORMATION_SCHEMA and explore its various applications. Whether you're a BigQuery beginner or an experienced user, this guide will provide you with the knowledge you need to leverage INFORMATION_SCHEMA effectively.

Understanding INFORMATION_SCHEMA in BigQuery

The INFORMATION_SCHEMA in BigQuery serves as a metadata repository, offering valuable insights into the structure and organization of your datasets. Essentially, it acts as a catalog of information, allowing you to query and access important details about your BigQuery resources.

By utilizing the INFORMATION_SCHEMA, you can gain a comprehensive overview of the tables, views, columns, and even the permissions associated with your datasets. This holistic perspective enables you to make informed decisions and streamline your data management processes.


The INFORMATION_SCHEMA is a schema that consists of predefined views. These views are catalog objects with virtual tables that contain metadata about the underlying datasets, tables, views, routines, and more. By querying the views provided by the INFORMATION_SCHEMA, you can retrieve valuable insights about your BigQuery resources.

For example, let's say you want to understand the structure of a specific table in your dataset. By querying the INFORMATION_SCHEMA.COLUMNS view, you can retrieve information about the column names, data types, and even the maximum length of each column. This level of detail allows you to better understand the data you are working with and make informed decisions about data manipulation and optimization.

Importance of INFORMATION_SCHEMA in BigQuery

The INFORMATION_SCHEMA is an invaluable tool for managing and understanding your BigQuery environment. With its help, you can navigate through your datasets, explore their structures, and make well-informed decisions regarding data manipulation, optimization, and troubleshooting.

By leveraging the power of INFORMATION_SCHEMA, you can easily gather information about data types, column names, and even permissions. This level of visibility enhances collaboration and simplifies data governance within your organization.

Furthermore, the INFORMATION_SCHEMA provides insights into the dependencies between different objects in your BigQuery environment. For example, by querying the INFORMATION_SCHEMA.VIEW_TABLE_USAGE view, you can identify which views are dependent on specific tables. This knowledge is crucial when making changes to your dataset structure, as it helps you understand the potential impact on downstream views and queries.

In summary, the INFORMATION_SCHEMA in BigQuery is a powerful tool that empowers you with detailed metadata about your datasets. By utilizing its views, you can gain a deeper understanding of your resources, optimize your data management processes, and ensure effective collaboration within your organization.

Setting Up BigQuery for INFORMATION_SCHEMA

In order to utilize the INFORMATION_SCHEMA in BigQuery, you need to set up your environment properly. Let's go through a series of steps to ensure a smooth configuration.

Prerequisites for Using INFORMATION_SCHEMA

Before starting, make sure you have the necessary permissions and access to the datasets you want to query using INFORMATION_SCHEMA. Ensure that your credentials have the required access rights to the relevant resources.

Additionally, ensure that you have the necessary BigQuery project set up and that you are adequately familiar with the BigQuery SQL syntax.

Steps to Configure BigQuery

To get started with utilizing the INFORMATION_SCHEMA, follow these step-by-step instructions:

  1. Access the BigQuery console and open your project.
  2. Ensure that you have the necessary roles and permissions to query the INFORMATION_SCHEMA views.
  3. Verify that the required datasets are present within your project.
  4. Run your desired SQL queries using the INFORMATION_SCHEMA views.

By following these simple steps, you can configure your BigQuery environment to make use of the powerful INFORMATION_SCHEMA functionalities.

Now, let's delve a bit deeper into the benefits of using the INFORMATION_SCHEMA in BigQuery. This schema provides a wealth of information about your datasets, tables, and views. It allows you to easily explore and analyze the structure of your data without having to manually inspect each individual object.

With the INFORMATION_SCHEMA, you can quickly retrieve metadata such as column names, data types, and even the creation date of your tables. This information can be invaluable when you're trying to understand the structure of your data or when you're building complex queries that require knowledge of the underlying schema.

Furthermore, the INFORMATION_SCHEMA views are constantly updated as you make changes to your datasets, ensuring that you always have access to the most up-to-date information. This real-time view into your data's structure can save you time and effort, as you won't have to rely on manual documentation or outdated information.

By leveraging the power of the INFORMATION_SCHEMA, you can gain valuable insights into your BigQuery datasets, enabling you to make more informed decisions and optimize your data analysis workflows.


The INFORMATION_SCHEMA opens up a world of possibilities when it comes to querying your BigQuery datasets. Let's explore some essential aspects of querying using this valuable tool.

Basic Query Structure

To query the INFORMATION_SCHEMA, you can use the familiar SQL syntax with minor tweaks. Simply prefix the relevant view name from the INFORMATION_SCHEMA before your regular SQL syntax.

For example, to retrieve the columns of a particular table, you can use the following query:

SELECT column_nameFROM `project.dataset.INFORMATION_SCHEMA.columns`WHERE table_name = 'your_table_name';

But did you know that the INFORMATION_SCHEMA offers even more than just basic querying? Let's dive deeper into the advanced query techniques that can take your data analysis to the next level.

Advanced Query Techniques

With the INFORMATION_SCHEMA, you can dive deeper into your datasets by utilizing advanced querying techniques. For instance, you can join multiple views from INFORMATION_SCHEMA to gain comprehensive insights about your tables, columns, and even permissions.

Imagine you have multiple datasets in BigQuery, each containing different tables. By combining the power of subqueries, aggregations, and conditions with the INFORMATION_SCHEMA, you can extract meaningful information and perform in-depth analysis of your BigQuery resources.

For example, you can use subqueries to retrieve the tables that have a specific column name across all your datasets. This allows you to easily identify which tables contain certain data points, enabling you to make data-driven decisions with confidence.

Furthermore, by leveraging aggregations, you can calculate statistics on your tables, such as the total number of rows or the average value of a specific column. These insights can help you understand the distribution and characteristics of your data.

Additionally, you can use conditions to filter your results based on specific criteria. For example, you can retrieve all the tables that have been modified within a certain time frame or find the tables with the highest number of rows. These conditional queries allow you to focus on the most relevant data for your analysis.

As you can see, the INFORMATION_SCHEMA not only provides a way to query your BigQuery datasets but also empowers you with advanced techniques to explore, analyze, and extract valuable insights from your data. So, next time you're working with BigQuery, don't forget to leverage the full potential of the INFORMATION_SCHEMA.


The INFORMATION_SCHEMA serves as an excellent tool not only for querying but also for managing your data in BigQuery. Let's look at two main aspects of data management using this powerful feature.

Data Inspection with INFORMATION_SCHEMA

The INFORMATION_SCHEMA provides you with a convenient way to inspect your data resources. By querying the appropriate views, you can gather vital information about the columns, data types, and even additional metadata associated with your tables and views.

With this level of visibility, you can easily understand and validate the integrity and structure of your datasets. Furthermore, you can detect anomalies, inconsistencies, or missing information, ensuring the quality and accuracy of your data.

Data Manipulation using INFORMATION_SCHEMA

The INFORMATION_SCHEMA can also be leveraged for data manipulation tasks. By utilizing the insights from the INFORMATION_SCHEMA views, you can construct targeted queries to update specific columns, modify data types, or even remove unnecessary tables.

This ability to manipulate your data using the INFORMATION_SCHEMA greatly streamlines your workflow and eliminates the need for complex queries or external tools. Harness the power of INFORMATION_SCHEMA to efficiently manage and shape your BigQuery datasets.

Troubleshooting Common Issues

While working with BigQuery and the INFORMATION_SCHEMA, you may encounter a few common issues. Understanding how to troubleshoot these problems will save you time and ensure a smooth workflow.

Dealing with Common Errors

One potential issue you might face is incorrect syntax while querying the INFORMATION_SCHEMA. Ensure that you are using the proper SQL syntax and have correctly formatted your queries, including the appropriate quotation marks and backticks.

If you encounter errors related to permissions or roles, verify that your credentials and project settings are properly configured. Also, double-check that you have the necessary access rights to the datasets you are trying to query.

Performance Optimization Tips

Querying the INFORMATION_SCHEMA involves retrieving metadata about your BigQuery resources, which can sometimes impact performance. To optimize performance, follow these tips:

  • Filter your queries using conditions to target specific resources.
  • Utilize caching mechanisms to avoid unnecessary repeated queries.
  • Optimize your SQL queries by selecting only the required columns and using appropriate joins.

By implementing these performance optimization strategies, you can ensure efficient utilization of the INFORMATION_SCHEMA and enhance the overall query execution speed.

With this comprehensive guide, you now possess the knowledge necessary to harness the power of INFORMATION_SCHEMA in BigQuery. Explore its extensive capabilities, leverage its insights, and propel your data management and analysis to new heights. Embrace the potential of INFORMATION_SCHEMA and unlock a world of possibilities within your BigQuery projects.

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