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Dataform vs dbt: What are the differences?

Dataform and dbt are both data transformation tools used for building and managing data pipelines in analytics workflows. Here are the key differences between them:

  1. Language and Syntax: Dataform uses SQL-like syntax, whereas dbt uses Jinja, a templating language that allows you to mix SQL and logical constructs. This means that Dataform queries are more similar to traditional SQL queries, making it easier for SQL developers to work with, while dbt provides more flexibility by allowing the use of conditional statements and loops within the SQL.

  2. Integration with IDE: Dataform has its own integrated development environment (IDE) called Dataform Studio, which provides a user-friendly interface for creating, editing, and managing data pipeline workflows. On the other hand, dbt does not have a dedicated IDE and relies on using SQL editors like VSCode or SQL workbench.

  3. Data Modeling: Dataform focuses more on data modeling and provides features like incremental builds, data lineage, and data quality checks. It allows you to define and manage your database schema using its JavaScript-based language, enabling you to easily create and maintain your data models. dbt, on the other hand, primarily focuses on transformation and data engineering tasks, such as ELT processes and building data pipelines.

  4. Testing and Documentation: Dataform provides built-in testing capabilities, allowing you to define tests for your data models to ensure data quality and accuracy. It also generates documentation for your data models automatically, making it easier to understand and maintain your data processes. In contrast, dbt does not have built-in testing and documentation features, although you can use external tools to accomplish these tasks.

  5. Extensibility and Customization: Dataform allows you to write custom JavaScript code to extend its functionality and integrate with other tools and services. This makes it more customizable and adaptable to your specific requirements. dbt, on the other hand, does not provide a built-in way to extend its functionality, although you can still use custom macros to add additional logic and transformations to your data pipelines.

  6. Community and Ecosystem: dbt has a larger and more active community compared to Dataform, with a wide range of community-contributed packages and integrations. This means that you can easily find support, resources, and examples for various use cases and data transformations. Dataform, being a newer tool, has a smaller community and ecosystem, although it is steadily growing.

In summary, Dataform and dbt are tools designed for SQL-based data transformation, with Dataform emphasizing version control, and dbt focusing on analytics engineering and collaboration.

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Pros of Dataform
Pros of dbt
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    • 5
      Easy for SQL programmers to learn
    • 2
    • 2
      Schedule Jobs
    • 2
      Reusable Macro
    • 2
      Faster Integrated Testing
    • 2
      Modularity, portability, CI/CD, and documentation

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    Cons of Dataform
    Cons of dbt
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      • 1
        Only limited to SQL
      • 1
        Cant do complex iterations , list comprehensions etc .
      • 1
        People will have have only sql skill set at the end
      • 1
        Very bad for people from learning perspective

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      What is Dataform?

      Dataform helps you manage all data processes in your cloud data warehouse. Publish tables, write data tests and automate complex SQL workflows in a few minutes, so you can spend more time on analytics and less time managing infrastructure.

      What is dbt?

      dbt is a transformation workflow that lets teams deploy analytics code following software engineering best practices like modularity, portability, CI/CD, and documentation. Now anyone who knows SQL can build production-grade data pipelines.

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      What companies use Dataform?
      What companies use dbt?
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      What are some alternatives to Dataform and dbt?
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      Git is a free and open source distributed version control system designed to handle everything from small to very large projects with speed and efficiency.
      GitHub is the best place to share code with friends, co-workers, classmates, and complete strangers. Over three million people use GitHub to build amazing things together.
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