Skip to main content

Incremental Mode


The goal of this part is to use the DataObject's state, such that it can be used in subsequent requests. This allows for more dynamic querying of the API. For example in the ext-departures DataObject we currently query the API with fixed airport, begin and end query parameters. Consequently, we will always query the same time period for a given airport. In a more real-world example, we would want a delta load mechanism that loads any new data since the last execution of the action. To demonstrate these incremental queries based on previous state we will start by rewriting our configuration file.

Define Data Objects

We only make the following minor changes in our config file to Action download-deduplicate-departures:

download-deduplicate-departures {
type = DeduplicateAction
inputId = ext-departures
outputId = int-departures
executionMode = { type = DataObjectStateIncrementalMode }
mergeModeEnable = true
updateCapturedColumnOnlyWhenChanged = true
transformers = [{
type = SQLDfTransformer
code = "select ext_departures.*, date_format(from_unixtime(firstseen),'yyyyMMdd') dt from ext_departures"
type = ScalaCodeSparkDfTransformer
code = """
import org.apache.spark.sql.{DataFrame, SparkSession}
def transform(session: SparkSession, options: Map[String,String], df: DataFrame, dataObjectId: String) : DataFrame = {
import session.implicits._
df.dropDuplicates("icao24", "estdepartureairport", "dt")
// return as function
transform _
metadata {
feed = deduplicate-departures
  • Adding the executionMode DataObjectStateIncrementalMode will enable DataObject incremental mode. With every run the input DataObject will only return new data in this mode. The DataObject saves its state in the global state file that is written after each run of the Smart Data Lake Builder. You haven't worked with this state file before, more on that later.
  • mergeModeEnable = true tells DeduplicateAction to merge changed data into the output DataObject, instead of overwriting the whole DataObject. This is especially useful if incoming data is read incrementally. The output DataObject must implement CanMergeDataFrame interface (also called trait in Scala) for this. DeltaLakeTableDataObject will then create a complex SQL-Upsert statement to merge new and changed data into existing output data.
  • By default DeduplicateAction updates column dl_captured in the output for every record it receives. To reduce the number of updated records, updateCapturedColumnOnlyWhenChanged = true can be set. In this case column dl_captured is only updated in the output, when some attribute of the record changed.

Execution mode is also something that is going to be explained in more detail later. For now, just think of the execution mode as a way to select which data needs to be processed. In this case, we tell Smart Data Lake Builder to load data based on the state stored in the DataObject itself.


Remember that the time interval in ext-departures should not be larger than a week. As mentioned, we will implement a simple incremental query logic that always queries from the last execution time until the current execution. If the time difference between the last execution and the current execution time is larger than a week, we will query the next four days since the last execution time. Otherwise we query the data from the last execution until now.

Define state variables

To make use of the newly configured execution mode, we need state variables. Add the following two variables to our CustomWebserviceDataObject.

  private var previousState : Seq[State] = Seq()
private var nextState : Seq[State] = Seq()

The corresponding State case class is defined as

  case class State(airport: String, nextBegin: Long)

and should be added in the same file outside the DataObject. For example, add it just below the already existing case classes. The state always stores the airport and a nextBegin as unix timestamp to indicate to the next run, what data needs to be loaded.

Concerning the state variables, previousState will basically be used for all the logic of the DataObject and nextState will be used to store the state for the next run.

Read and write state

To actually work with the state, we need to implement the CanCreateIncrementalOutput trait. This can be done by adding with CanCreateIncrementalOutput to the CustomWebserviceDataObject. Consequently, we need to implement the functions setState and getState defined in the trait.

override def setState(state: Option[String])(implicit context: ActionPipelineContext): Unit = {
implicit val formats: Formats = DefaultFormats
previousState = => JsonMethods.parse(s).extract[Seq[State]]).getOrElse(Seq())

override def getState: Option[String] = {
implicit val formats: Formats = DefaultFormats

We can see that by implementing these two functions, we start using the variables defined in the section above.

Try it out

We only spoke about this state, but it was never explained where it is stored. To work with a state, we need to introduce two new command line parameters: --state-path and --name or -n in short. This allows us to define the folder and name of the state file. To have access to the state file, we specify the path to be in an already mounted folder.

docker run -v ${PWD}:/mnt/project -v ${PWD}/.mvnrepo:/mnt/.mvnrepo maven:3.6.0-jdk-11-slim -- mvn -f /mnt/project/pom.xml "-Dmaven.repo.local=/mnt/.mvnrepo" package
docker run --rm -v ${PWD}/data:/mnt/data -v ${PWD}/target:/mnt/lib -v ${PWD}/config:/mnt/config --network getting-started_default sdl-spark:latest --config /mnt/config --feed-sel ids:download-deduplicate-departures --state-path /mnt/data/state -n getting-started

Use this slightly modified command to run download-deduplicate-departures Action. Nothing should have changed so far, since we only read and write an empty state.
You can verify this by opening the file getting-started.<runId>.<attemptId>.json and having a look at the field dataObjectsState. The stored state is currently empty. In the next section, we will assign a value to nextState, such that the DataObject's state is written.


The same state file is used by Smart Data Lake Builder to enable automatic recoveries of failed jobs. This will also be explained in detail separately, but we're mentioning the fact here, so you can understand the two variables <runId> and <attemptId> appearing in the file name. For each execution, the <runId> is incremented by one. The <attemptId> is usually 1, but gets increased by one if Smart Data Lake Builder has to recover a failed execution.

Define a Query Logic

Now we want to achieve the following query logic:

The starting point are the query parameters provided in the configuration file and no previous state. During the first execution, we query the departures for the two airports in the given time window. Afterwards, the end-parameter of the current query will be stored as begin-parameter for the next query. Now the true incremental phase starts as we can now get the state of the last successful run. We query the flight-data API to get data from the last successful run up until now. For this to work, we need to make two changes. First add the variable

private val now =

just below the nextState variable. Then modify the currentQueryParameters variable according to

// if we have query parameters in the state we will use them from now on
val currentQueryParameters = if (previousState.isEmpty) checkQueryParameters(queryParameters) else checkQueryParameters({
x => DepartureQueryParameters(x.airport, x.nextBegin, now)

The implemented logic

nextState = => State(params.airport, params.end))

for the next state can be placed below the comment // put simple nextState logic below.

Compile and execute the code of this project again and execute it multiple times. The scenario will be that the first run fetches the data defined in the configuration file, then the proceeding run retrieves the data from the endpoint of the last run until now. If this time difference is larger than a week, the program only queries the next four days since the last execution. If there is no data available in a time window, because only a few seconds have passed since the last execution, the execution will fail with Error 404.

At the end your config file should look something like this and the CustomWebserviceDataObject code like this.


Unfortunately, the webservice on responds with a 404 error code when no data is available, rather than a 200 and an empty response. Therefore, SDLB gets a 404 and will fail the execution. The exception could be catched inside CustomWebserviceDataObject, but what if we have a real 404 error?!

Congratulation, you just completed implementing a nice incremental loading mechanism!

That's it from getting-started for now. We hope you enjoyed your first steps with SDLB. For further information, check the rest of the documentation and the blog on this page!