Magento to BigQuery

This page provides you with instructions on how to extract data from Magento and load it into Google BigQuery. (If this manual process sounds onerous, check out Stitch, which can do all the heavy lifting for you in just a few clicks.)

What is Magento?

Magento is an open source content management system for ecommerce web sites. It's known for its flexibility and wide adoption across ecommerce businesses of all sizes.

What is Google BigQuery?

Google BigQuery is a data warehouse that delivers super-fast results from SQL queries, which it accomplishes using a powerful engine dubbed Dremel. With BigQuery, there's no spinning up (and down) clusters of machines as you work with your data. With that said, it's clear why some claim that BigQuery prioritizes querying over administration. It's super fast, and that's the reason why most folks use it.

Getting data out of Magento

You can use the Magento API to extract information. In most recent version, Magento offers both REST and SOAP versions of its API. Be warned, however, that historical versions of different Magento API calls could display inconsistent compatibility.

You can also pull data directly from the underlying database. (Using the API is really just doing this via a layer of abstraction.) If you go this route, familiarize yourself with the Magento database structure.

Preparing Magento data

Your Magento data needs to be structured into a schema for your destination database. If you choose to work with the default Magento database structure in your analytical environment, this simply means recreating the tables and fields that you pulled from your Magento API. You can refer to the API docs or use the information_schema tables in those databases to get the information you need.

Loading data into Google BigQuery

Google Cloud Platform offers a helpful guide for loading data into BigQuery. You can use the bq command-line tool to upload the files to your datasets, adding schema and data type information along the way. The bq load command is the workhorse here. You can find its syntax in the bq command-line tool quickstart guide. Iterate through this process as many times as it takes to load all of your tables into BigQuery.

Keeping Magento data up to date

At this point you've coded up a script or written a program to get the data you want and successfully moved it into your data warehouse. But how will you load new or updated data? It's not a good idea to replicate all of your data each time you have updated records. That process would be painfully slow and resource-intensive.

Instead, identify key fields that your script can use to bookmark its progression through the data and use to pick up where it left off as it looks for updated data. Auto-incrementing fields such as updated_at or created_at work best for this. When you've built in this functionality, you can set up your script as a cron job or continuous loop to get new data as it appears in Magento.

And remember, as with any code, once you write it, you have to maintain it. If Magento modifies its API, or the API sends a field with a datatype your code doesn't recognize, you may have to modify the script. If your users want slightly different information, you definitely will have to.

Other data warehouse options

BigQuery is great, but sometimes you need to optimize for different things when you're choosing a data warehouse. Some folks choose to go with Amazon Redshift, PostgreSQL, or Snowflake, which are RDBMSes that use similar SQL syntax, or Panoply, which works with Redshift instances. If you're interested in seeing the relevant steps for loading data into one of these platforms, check out To Redshift, To Postgres, To Snowflake, and To Panoply.

Easier and faster alternatives

If all this sounds a bit overwhelming, don’t be alarmed. If you have all the skills necessary to go through this process, chances are building and maintaining a script like this isn’t a very high-leverage use of your time.

Thankfully, products like Stitch were built to solve this problem automatically. With just a few clicks, Stitch starts extracting your Magento data via the API, structuring it in a way that is optimized for analysis, and inserting that data into your Google BigQuery data warehouse.