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Jinja macros

SQLMesh supports macros from the Jinja templating system.

Jinja's macro approach is pure string substitution. Unlike SQLMesh macros, they assemble SQL query text without building a semantic representation.

NOTE: SQLMesh projects support the standard Jinja function library only - they do not support dbt-specific jinja functions like {{ ref() }}. dbt-specific functions are allowed in dbt projects being run with the SQLMesh adapter.

Basics

Jinja uses curly braces {} to differentiate macro from non-macro text. It uses the second character after the left brace to determine what the text inside the braces will do.

The three curly brace symbols are:

  • {{...}} creates Jinja expressions. Expressions are replaced by text that is incorporated into the rendered SQL query; they can contain macro variables and functions.
  • {%...%} creates Jinja statements. Statements give instructions to Jinja, such as setting variable values, control flow with if, for loops, and defining macro functions.
  • {#...#} creates Jinja comments. These comments will not be included in the rendered SQL query.

Since Jinja strings are not syntactically valid SQL expressions and cannot be parsed as such, the model query must be wrapped in a special JINJA_QUERY_BEGIN; ...; JINJA_END; block in order for SQLMesh to detect it:

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MODEL (
  name sqlmesh_example.full_model
);

JINJA_QUERY_BEGIN;

SELECT {{ 1 + 1 }};

JINJA_END;

Similarly, to use Jinja expressions as part of statements that should be evaluated before or after the model query, the JINJA_STATEMENT_BEGIN; ...; JINJA_END; block should be used:

MODEL (
  name sqlmesh_example.full_model
);

JINJA_STATEMENT_BEGIN;
{{ pre_hook() }}
JINJA_END;

JINJA_QUERY_BEGIN;
SELECT {{ 1 + 1 }};
JINJA_END;

JINJA_STATEMENT_BEGIN;
{{ post_hook() }}
JINJA_END;

User-defined variables

SQLMesh supports two kinds of user-defined macro variables: global and local.

Global macro variables are defined in the project configuration file and can be accessed in any project model.

Local macro variables are defined in a model definition and can only be accessed in that model.

Global variables

Learn more about defining global variables in the SQLMesh macros documentation.

Access global variable values in a model definition using the {{ var() }} jinja function. The function requires the name of the variable in single quotes as the first argument and an optional default value as the second argument. The default value is a safety mechanism used if the variable name is not found in the project configuration file.

For example, a model would access a global variable named int_var like this:

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JINJA_QUERY_BEGIN;

SELECT *
FROM table
WHERE int_variable = {{ var('int_var') }};

JINJA_END;

A default value can be passed as a second argument to the {{ var() }} jinja function, which will be used as a fallback value if the variable is missing from the configuration file.

In this example, the WHERE clause would render to WHERE some_value = 0 if no variable named missing_var was defined in the project configuration file:

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JINJA_QUERY_BEGIN;

SELECT *
FROM table
WHERE some_value = {{ var('missing_var', 0) }};

JINJA_END;

Local variables

Define your own variables with the Jinja statement {% set ... %}. For example, we could specify the name of the num_orders column in the sqlmesh_example.full_model like this:

MODEL (
  name sqlmesh_example.full_model,
  kind FULL,
  cron '@daily',
  audits (assert_positive_order_ids),
);

JINJA_QUERY_BEGIN;

{% set my_col = 'num_orders' %} -- Jinja definition of variable `my_col`

SELECT
  item_id,
  count(distinct id) AS {{ my_col }}, -- Reference to Jinja variable {{ my_col }}
FROM
  sqlmesh_example.incremental_model
GROUP BY item_id

JINJA_END;

Note that the Jinja set statement is written after the MODEL statement and before the SQL query.

Jinja variables can be string, integer, or float data types. They can also be an iterable data structure, such as a list, tuple, or dictionary. Each of these data types and structures supports multiple Python methods, such as the upper() method for strings.

Macro operators

Control flow operators

for loops

For loops let you iterate over a collection of items to condense repetitive code and easily change the values used by the code.

Jinja for loops begin with {% for ... %} and end with {% endfor %}. This example demonstrates creating indicator variables with CASE WHEN using a Jinja for loop:

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SELECT
  {% for vehicle_type in ['car', 'truck', 'bus']}
    CASE WHEN user_vehicle = '{{ vehicle_type }}' THEN 1 ELSE 0 END as vehicle_{{ vehicle_type }},
  {% endfor %}
FROM table

Note that the vehicle_type values are quoted in the list ['car', 'truck', 'bus']. Jinja removes those quotes during processing, so the reference '{{ vehicle_type }} in the CASE WHEN statement must be in quotes. The reference vehicle_{{ vehicle_type }} does not require quotes.

Also note that a comma is present at the end of the CASE WHEN line. Trailing commas are not valid SQL and would normally require special handling, but SQLMesh's semantic understanding of the query allows it to identify and remove the offending comma.

The example renders to this after SQLMesh processing:

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SELECT
  CASE WHEN user_vehicle = 'car' THEN 1 ELSE 0 END AS vehicle_car,
  CASE WHEN user_vehicle = 'truck' THEN 1 ELSE 0 END AS vehicle_truck,
  CASE WHEN user_vehicle = 'bus' THEN 1 ELSE 0 END AS vehicle_bus
FROM table

In general, it is a best practice to define lists of values separately from their use. We could do that like this:

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{% set vehicle_types = ['car', 'truck', 'bus'] %}

SELECT
  {% for vehicle_type in vehicle_types }
    CASE WHEN user_vehicle = '{{ vehicle_type }}' THEN 1 ELSE 0 END as vehicle_{{ vehicle_type }},
  {% endfor %}
FROM table

The rendered query would be the same as before.

if

if statements allow you to take an action (or not) based on some condition.

Jinja if statements begin with {% if ... %} and end with {% endif %}. The starting if statement must contain code that evaluates to True or False. For example, all of True, 1 + 1 == 2, and 'a' in ['a', 'b'] evaluate to True.

As an example, you might want a model to only include a column if the model was being run for testing purposes. We can do that by setting a variable indicating whether it's a testing run that determines whether the query includes testing_column:

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{% set testing = True %}

SELECT
  normal_column,
  {% if testing %}
    testing_column
  {% endif %}
FROM table

Because testing is True, the rendered query would be:

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SELECT
  normal_column,
  testing_column
FROM table

User-defined macro functions

User-defined macro functions allow the same macro code to be used in multiple models.

Jinja macro functions should be placed in .sql files in the SQLMesh project's macros directory. Multiple functions can be defined in one .sql file, or they can be distributed across multiple files.

Jinja macro functions are defined with the {% macro %} and {% endmacro %} statements. The macro function name and arguments are specified in the {% macro %} statement.

For example, a macro function named print_text that takes no arguments could be defined with:

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{% macro print_text() %}
text
{% endmacro %}

This macro function would be called in a SQL model with {{ print_text() }}, which would be substituted with text" in the rendered query.

Macro function arguments are placed in the parentheses next to the macro name. For example, this macro generates a SQL column with an alias based on the arguments expression and alias:

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{% macro alias(expression, alias) %}
  {{ expression }} AS {{ alias }}
{% endmacro %}

We might call this macro function in a SQL query like this:

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SELECT
  item_id,
  {{ alias('item_id', 'item_id2')}}
FROM table

After processing, it would render to this:

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SELECT
  item_id,
  item_id AS item_id2
FROM table

Note that both argument values are quoted in the call alias('item_id', 'item_id2') but are not quoted in the rendered query. During the rendering process, SQLMesh uses its semantic understanding of the query to build the rendered text - it recognizes that the first argument is a column name and that column aliases are unquoted by default.

In that example, the SQL query selects the column item_id with the alias item_id2. If instead we wanted to select the string 'item_id' with the name item_id2, we would pass the expression argument with double quotes around it: "'item_id'":

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SELECT
  item_id,
  {{ alias("'item_id'", 'item_id2')}}
FROM table

After processing, it would render to this:

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SELECT
  item_id,
  'item_id' AS item_id2
FROM table

The double quotes around "'item_id'" signal to SQLMesh that it is not a column name.

Some SQL dialects interpret double and single quotes differently. We could replace the rendered single quoted 'item_id' with double quoted "item_id" in the previous example by switching the placement of quotes in the macro function call. Instead of alias("'item_id'", 'item_id2') we would use alias('"item_id"', 'item_id2').

Mixing macro systems

SQLMesh supports both the Jinja and SQLMesh macro systems. We strongly recommend using only one system in a single model - if both are present, they may fail or behave in unintuitive ways.

Predefined SQLMesh macro variables can be used in a query containing user-defined Jinja variables and functions. However, predefined variables passed as arguments to a user-defined Jinja macro function must use the Jinja curly brace syntax {{ start_ds }} instead of the SQLMesh macro @ prefix syntax @start_ds. Note that curly brace syntax may require quoting to generate the equivalent of the @ syntax.