Scheduling BigQuery Queries in Airflow

Queries in bigquery-etl can be scheduled in Airflow to be run regularly with the results written to a table.

In bigquery-etl

In the bigquery-etl project, queries are written in /templates. The directory structure is based on the destination table: /templates/{dataset_id}/{table_name}. For example, /templates/telemetry/core_clients_last_seen_raw_v1/query.sql is a query that will write results to the core_clients_last_seen_raw_v1 table in the telemetry dataset. This can be overridden in Airflow.

If we want to create a new table of just client_id's each day called client_ids in the example dataset, we should create /templates/example/client_ids/query.sql:

  submission_date = @submission_date

@submission_date is a parameter that will be filled in by Airflow.

After /templates/example/client_ids/query.sql is created, /script/generate_sql can be run to generate the associated query in /sql/examples/client_ids/query.sql which is the query that will be run by the Airflow task.

Commit both changes in templates/ and /sql. When a commit is made to master in bigquery-etl, the Docker image is pushed and available to Airflow.

In telemetry-airflow

The next step is to create a DAG or add a task to an existing DAG that will run the query.
In telemetry-airflow, BigQuery related functions are found in /dags/utils/ The function we are interested in is bigquery_etl_query.

For our client_ids example, we could create a new DAG, /dags/

from airflow import models
from utils.gcp import bigquery_etl_query

default_args = {

dag_name = 'client_ids'

with models.DAG(dag_name, schedule_interval='0 1 * * *', default_args=default_args) as dag:
    client_ids = bigquery_etl_query(

By default, bigquery_etl_query will execute the query in /sql/{dataset_id}/{destination_table}/query.sql and write to the derived-datasets project but this can be changed via the function arguments.

This DAG will then execute /sql/example/client_ids/query.sql every day, writing results to the client_ids table in the example dataset in the derived-datasets project.

Other considerations

  • The Airflow task will overwrite the destination table partition
    • Destination table should be partitioned by submission_date
    • date_partition_parameter argument in bigquery_etl_query can be set to None to overwrite the whole table
  • Airflow can be tested locally following instructions here:
  • It's possible to change the Docker image that Airflow uses to test changes to bigquery-etl before merging changes to master
    • Supply a value to the docker_image argument in bigquery_etl_query