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How to use INFORMATION_SCHEMA in Databricks?

How to use INFORMATION_SCHEMA in Databricks?

Learn how to leverage the power of INFORMATION_SCHEMA in Databricks to gain insights into your data and optimize your queries.

The INFORMATION_SCHEMA is a powerful tool that provides valuable insights into the structure and metadata of databases in Databricks. By leveraging this feature, users can gain a deeper understanding of their data and optimize their workflows. In this article, we will explore the different aspects of utilizing INFORMATION_SCHEMA in Databricks and provide practical guidelines for its effective usage.


Before diving into the specifics, let's begin by clarifying the definition and importance of the INFORMATION_SCHEMA. Essentially, the INFORMATION_SCHEMA is a system catalog that contains metadata about the databases, tables, columns, and other database objects. It serves as a gateway to gaining comprehensive knowledge about the data stored within the Databricks environment.

Definition and Importance of INFORMATION_SCHEMA

The INFORMATION_SCHEMA is a database schema in SQL that acts as a repository for metadata information. It allows users to access various details about their databases, such as table names, column names, data types, and more. This wealth of information is crucial for data analysis, troubleshooting, and optimizing query performance.

Imagine you are working on a complex data analysis project and need to understand the structure of your database. With INFORMATION_SCHEMA, you can easily retrieve information about the tables, columns, and views present in your database. This knowledge empowers you to make informed decisions and design efficient queries tailored to your specific needs.


Understanding the key components of the INFORMATION_SCHEMA is essential for effectively utilizing its capabilities. The main components include:

  • Tables: These provide information about the tables present in the database, including their names, schema, and type. By examining the table metadata, you can gain insights into the organization of your data and identify potential areas for optimization.
  • Columns: This component offers details about the columns within the tables, such as their names, data types, and constraints. Knowing the characteristics of each column helps you ensure data integrity and choose appropriate data manipulation techniques.
  • Views: Views provide a virtual representation of the data in the database, allowing users to query and analyze the data without modifying the underlying tables. By leveraging views, you can create customized perspectives of your data, simplifying complex queries and enhancing data accessibility.
  • Routines: Routines include stored procedures and functions that can be executed to perform specific tasks. These powerful tools enable you to encapsulate complex logic and automate repetitive operations, enhancing the efficiency and maintainability of your database.

Imagine you have a routine that needs to be executed periodically to update a specific set of data. By utilizing routines within the INFORMATION_SCHEMA, you can automate this process, saving time and reducing the risk of human error.

In conclusion, the INFORMATION_SCHEMA is a valuable resource for any database user. By providing comprehensive metadata about the database objects, it empowers users to gain a deeper understanding of their data and optimize their database operations. Whether you are a data analyst, database administrator, or developer, leveraging the INFORMATION_SCHEMA can greatly enhance your productivity and efficiency.

Setting up Databricks for INFORMATION_SCHEMA

Before we can start utilizing the INFORMATION_SCHEMA in Databricks, we need to set up the environment properly. This section will cover the prerequisites for the Databricks setup and provide a step-by-step guide for an effortless configuration.

Prerequisites for Databricks Setup

Prior to setting up Databricks for INFORMATION_SCHEMA usage, ensure that you have the following:

  1. An active Databricks account with the necessary permissions to access the desired databases.
  2. A clear understanding of the database structure and the specific information you wish to retrieve.
  3. Familiarity with SQL queries and syntax.

Step-by-Step Guide to Databricks Setup

Follow these steps to configure Databricks for utilizing the INFORMATION_SCHEMA:

  1. Login to your Databricks account and navigate to the relevant workspace.
  2. Create a new notebook or open an existing one to begin writing queries against the INFORMATION_SCHEMA.
  3. Ensure that the appropriate tables and databases are available or create them if necessary.
  4. Establish a connection to your desired database within the notebook using the necessary credentials.
  5. Start exploring the INFORMATION_SCHEMA by executing SQL queries to retrieve metadata about the tables, columns, and other relevant information.

Now that you have set up Databricks for utilizing the INFORMATION_SCHEMA, let's dive deeper into the capabilities and benefits it offers.

The INFORMATION_SCHEMA in Databricks provides a comprehensive view of the database's metadata. It allows you to retrieve valuable information about the tables, columns, views, and other database objects without the need to query the actual data. This metadata can be crucial for understanding the structure and relationships within your database, enabling you to make informed decisions when designing queries or performing data analysis.

By leveraging the INFORMATION_SCHEMA, you can easily explore the database's schema, identify the available tables, and understand the data types and constraints associated with each column. This information is particularly useful when working with complex databases or when collaborating with other team members who may not have direct access to the database itself.

Furthermore, the INFORMATION_SCHEMA provides a standardized way of accessing metadata across different database management systems. This means that the knowledge and skills you acquire while working with Databricks can be easily transferred to other platforms, ensuring a seamless transition if you ever need to switch to a different database technology.

With the step-by-step guide and an understanding of the benefits of utilizing the INFORMATION_SCHEMA, you are now equipped to make the most of Databricks' powerful capabilities for retrieving metadata. So go ahead, explore the depths of your database, and unlock valuable insights with ease!

Accessing INFORMATION_SCHEMA in Databricks

Now that we have our Databricks environment set up, it's time to dive into accessing the INFORMATION_SCHEMA and extracting useful insights. Here, we will explore the basic commands for accessing the INFORMATION_SCHEMA and gain an understanding of the output it generates.

Basic Commands for Accessing INFORMATION_SCHEMA

To access the INFORMATION_SCHEMA in Databricks, we can use simple SQL commands. Here are some basic commands:

  • SELECT * FROM INFORMATION_SCHEMA.TABLES: This command retrieves information about all the tables in the current database.
  • SELECT * FROM INFORMATION_SCHEMA.COLUMNS: This command retrieves information about all the columns in the current database.
  • SELECT * FROM INFORMATION_SCHEMA.VIEWS: This command retrieves information about all the views in the current database.

Understanding the Output of INFORMATION_SCHEMA

When executing queries against the INFORMATION_SCHEMA, the output will consist of structured data that provides metadata about the requested database objects. It typically includes information such as the object name, type, schema, and various other attributes depending on the specific query.

Let's take a closer look at the output of the INFORMATION_SCHEMA queries. When we execute the command SELECT * FROM INFORMATION_SCHEMA.TABLES, we will receive a result set that includes columns such as TABLE_CATALOG, TABLE_SCHEMA, TABLE_NAME, TABLE_TYPE, and more. These columns provide valuable information about the tables in our database, such as their names, schemas, and types.

Similarly, when we run the command SELECT * FROM INFORMATION_SCHEMA.COLUMNS, we will obtain a result set with columns like TABLE_CATALOG, TABLE_SCHEMA, TABLE_NAME, COLUMN_NAME, DATA_TYPE, and so on. These columns give us insights into the columns present in our database tables, including their names and data types.

Lastly, executing the query SELECT * FROM INFORMATION_SCHEMA.VIEWS will provide us with information about the views in our database. The result set will contain columns such as TABLE_CATALOG, TABLE_SCHEMA, TABLE_NAME, CHECK_OPTION, IS_UPDATABLE, and more. These columns offer details about the views, such as their check options and updatable status.

By understanding the structure and content of the output generated by the INFORMATION_SCHEMA queries, we can effectively leverage this valuable resource to gain insights into our database objects and make informed decisions.

Querying INFORMATION_SCHEMA in Databricks

Now that we have a grasp on how to access the INFORMATION_SCHEMA, let's explore some techniques for writing effective queries and optimizing query performance within Databricks.

Writing Effective Queries

Efficient querying of the INFORMATION_SCHEMA starts with formulating effective SQL queries. Here are some best practices to consider:

  • Be specific: Target the desired database objects accurately to avoid retrieving unnecessary metadata.
  • Use filters: Leverage WHERE conditions to narrow down the results based on specific criteria.
  • Combine with other commands: Utilize JOINs and subqueries to perform complex queries that involve multiple tables or views within the INFORMATION_SCHEMA.

Tips for Optimizing Query Performance

Optimizing query performance is crucial, especially when dealing with large databases or complex queries. Consider the following tips to improve the efficiency of your queries:

  1. Reduce the number of joins: Minimize the use of JOIN operations to limit the data retrieval and improve query speed.
  2. Index relevant columns: Identify key columns that are frequently used in your queries and create indexes to speed up the search process.
  3. Use appropriate data types: Ensure that columns in your tables have the most appropriate data types to reduce unnecessary conversions and improve performance.

Troubleshooting Common Issues

While utilizing the INFORMATION_SCHEMA in Databricks, it is common to encounter some issues that may hinder your progress. In this section, we will address common errors and provide solutions for a smooth experience.

Common Errors and Their Solutions

Here are some common errors you may encounter when working with the INFORMATION_SCHEMA, along with their solutions:

  • Missing permissions: If you're unable to access certain database objects, ensure that you have the necessary permissions granted.
  • Incorrect syntax: Double-check your SQL queries for errors in syntax and correct them accordingly.
  • Data inconsistencies: If the output of the INFORMATION_SCHEMA appears incorrect or inconsistent, verify the integrity of your data and ensure that it is up-to-date.

Best Practices for Avoiding Errors

To avoid errors when working with the INFORMATION_SCHEMA, consider implementing the following best practices:

  1. Regularly update database statistics to ensure accurate metadata.
  2. Perform thorough testing before executing complex queries on production databases.
  3. Document and organize your queries for easier troubleshooting and future reference.


Utilizing INFORMATION_SCHEMA in Databricks offers a plethora of benefits, ranging from gaining insights into database structure to optimizing query performance. By following the steps outlined in this article, you will be able to seamlessly set up Databricks for utilizing the INFORMATION_SCHEMA, access valuable metadata, and troubleshoot common issues. Remember to leverage the power of effective queries and adhere to best practices to maximize the potential of this valuable resource in your Databricks environment.

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