Accessing HBase Data


Before trying to access HBase data with PXF, verify the following:

  • The /etc/hbase/conf/ configuration file must reference the pxf-hbase.jar. For example, /etc/hbase/conf/ should include the line:

    export HBASE_CLASSPATH=${HBASE_CLASSPATH}:/usr/lib/pxf/pxf-hbase.jar

    Note: You must restart HBase after making any changes to the HBase configuration.

  • PXF HBase plug-in is installed on all cluster nodes.

  • HBase and ZooKeeper jars are installed on all cluster nodes.


To create an external HBase table, use the following syntax:

    ( column_name data_type [, ...] | LIKE other_table )
LOCATION ('pxf://namenode[:port]/hbase-table-name?Profile=HBase')
FORMAT 'CUSTOM' (Formatter='pxfwritable_import');

The HBase profile is equivalent to the following PXF parameters:

  • Fragmenter=org.apache.hawq.pxf.plugins.hbase.HBaseDataFragmenter
  • Accessor=org.apache.hawq.pxf.plugins.hbase.HBaseAccessor
  • Resolver=org.apache.hawq.pxf.plugins.hbase.HBaseResolver

Column Mapping

Most HAWQ external tables (PXF or others) require that the HAWQ table attributes match the source data record layout, and include all the available attributes. With HAWQ, however, you use the PXF HBase plug-in to specify the subset of HBase qualifiers that define the HAWQ PXF table. To set up a clear mapping between each attribute in the PXF table and a specific qualifier in the HBase table, you can use either direct mapping or indirect mapping. In addition, the HBase row key is handled in a special way.

Row Key

You can use the HBase table row key in several ways. For example, you can see them using query results, or you can run a WHERE clause filter on a range of row key values. To use the row key in the HAWQ query, define the HAWQ table with the reserved PXF attribute recordkey. This attribute name tells PXF to return the record key in any key-value based system and in HBase.

Note: Because HBase is byte and not character-based, you should define the recordkey as type bytea. This may result in better ability to filter data and increase performance.

CREATE EXTERNAL TABLE <tname> (recordkey bytea, ... ) LOCATION ('pxf:// ...')

Direct Mapping

Use Direct Mapping to map HAWQ table attributes to HBase qualifiers. You can specify the HBase qualifier names of interest, with column family names included, as quoted values. 

For example, you have defined an HBase table called hbase_sales with multiple column families and many qualifiers. To create a HAWQ table with these attributes:

  • rowkey
  • qualifier saleid in the column family cf1
  • qualifier comments in the column family cf8 

use the following CREATE EXTERNAL TABLE syntax:

  recordkey bytea,
  "cf1:saleid" int,
  "cf8:comments" varchar
) ...

The PXF HBase plug-in uses these attribute names as-is and returns the values of these HBase qualifiers.

Indirect Mapping (via Lookup Table)

The direct mapping method is fast and intuitive, but using indirect mapping helps to reconcile HBase qualifier names with HAWQ behavior:

  • HBase qualifier names may be longer than 32 characters. HAWQ has a 32-character limit on attribute name size.
  • HBase qualifier names can be binary or non-printable. HAWQ attribute names are character based.

In either case, Indirect Mapping uses a lookup table on HBase. You can create the lookup table to store all necessary lookup information. This works as a template for any future queries. The name of the lookup table must be pxflookup and must include the column family named mapping.

Using the sales example in Direct Mapping, if our rowkey represents the HBase table name and the mapping column family includes the actual attribute mapping in the key value form of<hawq attr name>=<hbase cf:qualifier>.


This example maps the saleid qualifier in the cf1 column family to the HAWQ id column and the comments qualifier in the cf8 family to the HAWQ cmts column.

(row key) mapping
sales id=cf1:saleid
sales cmts=cf8:comments

The mapping assigned new names for each qualifier. You can use these names in your HAWQ table definition:

  recordkey bytea
  id int,
  cmts varchar
) ...

PXF automatically matches HAWQ to HBase column names when a pxflookup table exists in HBase.