How to Convert Databricks SQL Code into PySpark/Python Using Classes and Functions

What will you learn?

In this comprehensive guide, you will learn how to seamlessly transition from utilizing Databricks SQL code to harnessing the power of PySpark and Python. By leveraging classes and functions, you will enhance the scalability and maintainability of your data processing workflows. This tutorial focuses on breaking down the process step by step, ensuring clarity at each stage.

Introduction to the Problem and Solution

When dealing with large datasets in big data analytics, there often arises a need to convert SQL queries into a more flexible programming environment like PySpark. This shift is crucial as PySpark offers greater control over data processing tasks, enabling complex transformations and analyses that might be challenging or inefficient in pure SQL.

Our solution involves demonstrating how typical Databricks SQL operations can be effectively implemented in PySpark using a structured programming approach with classes and functions. By encapsulating functionalities within classes, not only does it make the code cleaner but also reusable across different projects or segments of data processing pipelines.


from pyspark.sql import SparkSession

class DataProcessor:
    def __init__(self):
        self.spark = SparkSession.builder.appName("SQLtoPySpark").getOrCreate()

    def read_data(self, file_path):
        return, header=True)

    def filter_data(self, df, condition):
        return df.filter(condition)

# Example usage
if __name__ == "__main__":
    processor = DataProcessor()
    df = processor.read_data("/path/to/your/data.csv")
    filtered_df = processor.filter_data(df, "column_name > 100")

# Copyright PHD


In our approach:

  • DataProcessor class: Acts as a container for data processing operations. It initializes a SparkSession, crucial for any operation in PySpark.

  • read_data function: Reads data from a specified path into a DataFrame.

  • filter_data function: Filters an existing DataFrame based on a specified condition similar to an SQL WHERE clause.

This structured approach mirrors common tasks performed in Databricks´┐Ż SQL environment while utilizing Python’s object-oriented features for better modularity.

  1. How do I install PySpark?

  2. To work with these examples locally, you need to have Apache Spark installed along with its Python library pyspark. Install it via pip: pip install pyspark.

  3. Can I run these scripts directly on Databricks notebooks?

  4. Yes! Databricks supports both Scala/Java and Python through its notebooks interface. You can run these scripts after making necessary configuration adjustments.

  5. What are DataFrames?

  6. DataFrames represent distributed collections of rows under named columns in both Pandas (Python) and Pyspark APIs. They are designed for large-scale data processing akin to tables in relational databases.

  7. Is there a performance difference between executing native SQL queries vs using PySpark APIs?

  8. The performance may slightly favor native queries when working directly with optimized storage formats like Parquet on disk. However, the flexibility and capabilities offered by APIs often outweigh such considerations.

  9. Can I perform aggregations using this approach?

  10. Aggregations like .groupBy() followed by functions such as .count(), .sum(), etc., are available methods within DataFrame objects allowing versatile operations beyond filtering showcased in the example provided.


Transitioning from Databrick’s native SQL functionalities to direct access through PySpark offers numerous advantages including enhanced flexibility and potential performance optimizations not readily achievable solely through strict adherence to SQL syntax. Embracing this transformation journey leads to smoother, more effective project outcomes positively impacting future endeavors significantly.

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