Understanding the BigQuery User Interface

BigQuery User Interface

Google BigQuery is one of the products of Google Cloud Platform.

BigQuery is a data storage and management system which is used to bring data from several data sources for the purpose of reporting and analysis.

In order to access BigQuery, navigate to https://console.cloud.google.com/bigquery

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Following is the visual walkthrough of the BigQuery User Interface:

#1 In BigQuery we create/add one or more projects:

bigquery projects

#2 When you click on a project ID, a new tab is opened:

bigquery tab

#3 Each project is made up of one or more data sets which you can see by clicking on the drop-down menu:

bigquery datasets

#4 When you click on a data set name, a new tab is opened:

click on a data set name

#5 Each data set is made up of one or more tables which you can see by clicking on the drop-down menu:

bigquery data tables

It’s the data tables (and not the projects or data sets) that contains the actual data.

#6 When you click on a data table name, a new tab is opened:

click on a data table name

#7 Each data table has got ‘Schema’, ‘Details’ and ‘Preview’ tabs:

Schema Details and Preview tabs

#8 Schema is the structure of your data table. 

It shows you how the table has been set up. What type of values it accepts. You can also read a short description of each table field:

data table schema bigquery

If you want to edit the schema then click on the ‘Edit schema’ button. 

#9 Here is what the schema editor looks like:

schema editor bigquery

#10 Through the ‘Details’ tab you can get the following information about your data table:

details tab bigquery
  • Table ID
  • Table size
  • Number of rows in the table
  • Date and time when the table was created
  • Table expiration date
  • Last modified date and time
  • Data location

#11 Through the preview tab you can preview your table without running a single query:

data tables preview tab bigquery

#12 Click on the ‘QUERY TABLE’ button to create and edit a new SQL query:

QUERY TABLE big query

You should now see a new SQL editor (pre-populated with SQL) opened in a new tab (named EDITOR-2) :

SQL editor bigquery

However, this SQL is not complete as it is missing the name of the columns that should be retrieved. 

And that’s why you see the syntax error:

syntax error bigquery

Let’s retrieve all the columns of the table by using the SELECT * statement.

The correct SQL may look like the one below:

correct SQL bigquery

#13 In order to make your queries more readable and easy to understand, format them by clicking on the ‘Format Query’ option under the ‘MORE’ drop-down menu:

Format Query bigquery

#14 Here is how the formatted query would look like:

Here is how the formatted query would look like bigquery

#15 When you type a query in the ‘query editor’, BigQuery tells you in advance how much data your query will process:

BigQuery tells you in advance how much data your query will process
BigQuery tells you in advance how much data your query will process 2

In BigQuery, you are charged on the basis of the amount of data your query processes.

So if your query is going to process gigabytes or terabytes of data then it would quickly increase your query cost. So look at this notification every time before running a query.

#16 Click on the ‘Run’ button to execute your query:

Run button to execute your query bigquery

#17 When you run a query, you would see the query results directly below the ‘query editor’:

query results bigquery

#18 There is a navigation bar at the bottom right-hand side of your query results data table to see more records/rows:

navigation bar
Understanding the BigQuery User Interface 56

#19 To save your query click on the ‘Save Query’ option from the ‘SAVE’ drop-down menu:

Save Query bigquery

Name your query and then click on the ‘Save’ button:

Name your query

Your current tab should now rename to ‘My First Query’:

My First Query

#20 If you want to switch to the current data table then click on the tab corresponding to the data table:

switch to the current data table

#21 If you want to switch to the current data set then click on the tab corresponding to the data set:

switch to the current data set

#22 If you want to switch to the current BigQuery project then click on the tab corresponding to the project:

switch to the current BigQuery project

#23 If you want to compose a new query then click on the ‘Editor’ tab:

compose a new query bigquery

Here you can enter a new query and then execute it by clicking on the ‘Run’ button.

#24 If you want to switch back to the SQL query you saved earlier then click on the tab corresponding to the saved query:

My First Query 1

#25 Click on the ‘SAVE RESULTS’ button to save your query result as a CSV file, JSON file, BigQuery table or Google Sheets document:

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#26 If you want to visualize your query results in Google Data Studio then click on the ‘EXPLORE DATA’ button:

#27 If you want to compose a new SQL query then click on the ‘+ COMPOSE NEW QUERY’ button:

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You should now see a new SQL editor opened in a new tab (named EDITOR-2):

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If you want to close this new tab then click on the > button next to it:

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Now click on the cross button:

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#28 You can manually increase or decrease the size of your query editor by clicking & dragging the bottom/side windows:

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#29 If you want to search a particular data set or data table within a project then follow the steps below:

Step-1: Click on the project name/ID which contains the data set / data table you want to explore:

Click on the project name ID

Step-2: Type the name of your data set or table in the search box:

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Step-3: Press the enter key. 

You should now be able to see your desired data table / data set (provided it already exist):

desired data table data set

#30 If you can’t find what you are looking for then click on the link ‘Broaden search to all projects’:

Broaden search to all projects

#31 BigQuery provides a lot of public data sets which you can use for practice purposes. 

To find such data sets click on the ‘+ADD DATA’ drop-down menu and then click on ‘Explore Public Datasets’:

bigquery Public Datasets

#32 To see the list of available keyboard shortcuts click on the ‘SHORTCUT’ button:

see the list of available keyboard shortcuts
keyboard shortcuts bigquery

#33 If you want to switch back to the old user interface of BigQuery then click on the ‘HIDE PREVIEW FEATURES’ button:

HIDE PREVIEW FEATURES 1

#34 Here is what the old user interface of BigQuery looks like:

old user interface of BigQuery

#35 If you want to switch back to the new user interface of BigQuery then click on the ‘SHOW PREVIEW FEATURES’ BUTTON:

SHOW PREVIEW FEATURES bigquery

#36 Click on the hamburger button at the top left-hand side of your screen to navigate to the home page of your Google cloud console account, to access billing, support and other Google Cloud products:

hamburger button bigquery
google cloud platform menu

#37 Hover your mouse over the magnifying glass on the top left-hand side of your screen to access the BigQuery menu:

access the BigQuery menu
bigquery menu

#38 Most of the time, you will find yourself working in the ‘SQL workspace’ section of BigQuery:

SQL workspace bigquery

There are some other bits and bobs which you can easily discover yourself while using BigQuery. 

But that’s all there is really regarding using the BigQuery user interface. 

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