Main Ping Tables

As described in the pipeline schemas deployment docs, data engineering has a process of generating schemas for pings and deploying them to BigQuery. The Main Ping table (telemetry.main) is one of those generated tables.

As the number of telemetry probes defined in Firefox grows, so does the number of columns in telemetry.main. As of January 2021, we have nearly 10,000 columns, and we ingest many terabytes of main ping data per day. This combination of a very wide schema and a high data volume means that BigQuery has to reference metadata for a very large number of files each time it runs a query, even if it only ends up needing to read a small fraction of those files. This has led to a problematic experience for iterative analysis use cases.

To reduce the time for querying main ping data, we have included two new tables: telemetry.main_1pct, and telemetry.main_nightly. These can return results for simple queries in a matter of seconds where a logically equivalent query on telemetry.main may take minutes.

Main Ping Sample: telemetry.main_1pct

This table includes a 1% sample across all channels from telemetry.main (sample_id = 0). It includes 6 months of history.

It includes an additional subsample_id field that is similar to sample_id and allows efficient sampling for even smaller population sizes. The following query would reflect a 0.01% sample (one thousandth) of the total desktop Firefox population:

  COUNT(*) AS n
  subsample_id = 0
  AND DATE(submission_timestamp) = '2021-01-01'

The choice of implementation for subsample_id is not particularly well vetted; it's simply chosen to be a hash that's stable, has a reasonable avalanche effect, and is different from sample_id. The definition is MOD(ABS(FARM_FINGERPRINT(client_id)), 100) AS subsample_id which is the same approach we use for choosing id_bucket in Exact MAU tables.

Nightly Main Ping Data: telemetry.main_nightly

This table includes only data from the nightly release channel (normalized_channel = 'nightly'). It includes 6 months of history.