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Spark via Delta Lake


Detailed steps on how to set up Pyspark + Delta Lake + Nessie with Python is available on Binder.

To access Nessie from a spark cluster make sure the spark.jars.packages option is set to include the Nessie Deltalake Client for Spark 3 jar. These jars contain all Nessie and Delta Lake libraries required for operation.

In pyspark this would look like

    ... rest of spark config

In order to utilize the additional SQL grammar from the Nessie Spark SQL Extensions make sure to also include org.projectnessie.nessie-integrations:nessie-spark-3.2-extensions:0.60.1 and to set the spark.sql.extensions config option accordingly (see examples below).

The Nessie LogStore needs the following parameters set in the Spark/Hadoop config.

nessie.url = full url to nessie
nessie.authentication.type = authentication type

These are set as follows in code (or through other methods as described here)

//for a local spark instance
    .set("spark.hadoop.nessie.url", url)
    .set("spark.hadoop.nessie.ref", branch)
    .set("spark.hadoop.nessie.authentication.type", authType)
spark = SparkSession.builder()
# here we are assuming NONE authorisation
spark = SparkSession.builder \
            "org.projectnessie.nessie-integrations:nessie-deltalake:0.60.1,org.projectnessie.nessie-integrations:nessie-spark-3.2-extensions:0.60.1") \
            "http://localhost:19120/api/v1") \
        .config("spark.hadoop.nessie.ref", "main") \
            "") \
            ",org.projectnessie.spark.extensions.NessieSpark32SessionExtensions") \
            "org.projectnessie.deltalake.NessieLogFileMetaParser") \
            "org.projectnessie.deltalake.NessieLogStore") \

Additional authentication settings are documented in the Authentication in Tools section.

Note above we specified the option spark.hadoop.nessie.ref. This value sets the default branch that the delta catalog will use. This can be changed by changing the hadoopConfiguration however best practice would be to use a single write context (branch) for the duration of the spark session.

The key to enabling Nessie is to instruct Delta to use the Nessie specific LogStore and LogFileHandler. With these enabled the Delta core library will delegate transaction handling to Nessie.

Finally, note we have explicitly enabled Delta’s SQL extensions which enable Delta specific SQL in Spark3.


Currently Delta metadata operations like VACUUM are destructive to Nessie managed Delta tables. Do not run these operations. Future versions of Nessie will disable these commands when Nessie is activated.


Spark 3 supports reads, appends, overwrites in Delta via data frames as well as SQL syntax. Nessie tables in delta can be written via the Nessi enabled Delta client. The Delta writer allows for either overwrite or append mode in a standard spark.write.

regionDf ="data/region.parquet");
region_df ="data/region.parquet")
region_df.write.format("delta").mode("overwrite") \
) USING delta PARTITIONED BY (N_NATIONKEY) LOCATION 'path/to/delta/testing/city'
-- SELECT .. can be added to the sql statement to perform a CTAS

INSERT [OVERWRITE] INTO VALUES (1, 'a', 1, 'comment')

Here we simply read a file from the default filesystem and write it to a new nessie Delta table. This will trigger a commit on current context’s branch.

For the examples above we have performed commits on the branch specified when we set our spark configuration. Had we not specified the context in our spark configuration all operations would have defaulted to the default branch defined by the server. This is a strong pattern for a spark job which is for example writing data as part of a wider ETL job. It will only ever need one context or branch to write to. If however you are running an interactive session and would like to write to a specific branch without changing context the following should be used to change the context.

spark.sparkContext().hadoopConfiguration().set("nessie.ref", "dev");
regionDf ="data/region.parquet");
spark.sparkContext._jsc.hadoopConfiguration().set("nessie.ref", "dev")
region_df ="data/region.parquet")
region_df.write.format("delta").mode("overwrite") \
-- change hadoop configuration externally using the Java or Python syntax
-- AS SELECT .. can be added to the sql statement to perform a CTAS

INSERT INTO VALUES (1, 'a', 1, 'comment')

We have to manually change the hadoopConfiguration for the SparkContext for a Delta table to be initialised with the correct reference. This will change in the near future when it will be possible to use the same branch@ref syntax as Iceberg inside of delta. Currently, it isn’t possible to change the ref from SQL directly. This should be fixed in an upcoming release.


Delta by default caches tables internally. If an action has to happen on the same table but a different branch the cache first should be cleared. DeltaLog.clearCache().


To read a Nessie table in Delta Lake simply:

regionDf ="delta")
region_df ="delta") \
SELECT * FROM '/path/to/delta/testing/region'

The examples above all use the default branch defined on initialisation. Future versions will add the ability to specify a branch and timestamp similar to Iceberg. Currently, to switch branches a similar technique as writing is required (manually changing the hadoopConfiguration). History can be viewed on the command line or via the python client and a specific hash based on commit time can be extracted for use in the spark config. It is recommended to use the time-travel features of Nessie over the Delta features as Nessie history is consistent across the entire database.