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dbt Models

Use Census directly with dbt through the native dbt integration.
Census supports connecting to an existing dbt project via GitHub, which allows you to select models you want to make available to sync into all your business tools. This means you can keep all your source code & transforms in a single repository.
Census compiles your models on the fly whenever a sync is scheduled so your data and your models are always up to date. It also means that Census can confirm that your pull requests for dbt model changes won't accidentally drop or rename a model that is currently in use. Census is designed to work hand-in-hand with dbtCloud or any other dbt runner.

Setting it up

Here are the instructions for connecting a dbt project:
  1. 1.
    Connect to your GitHub repository. We currently only support dbt projects stored in GitHub. If you’d prefer to use a different service, please let us know!
  2. 2.
    Select the branch (if any) you’d like Census to use. Census will refresh the project on a regular basis and detect any changes to your models. You can force a refresh at any point from the models' page.
  3. 3.
    Customize the Census model selector. Any model exposed to Census becomes available as a source for syncing your data to external tools. By default, Census looks for models with the census tag but you can customize the filter.
Example Selectors
  • All models with a tag: tag:census
  • All models in a directory: path/to/models
  • All models: *
For more information on selector syntax, see dbt’s Model Selector Syntax.
Finally, specify where intermediate models are materialized. If the models you expose in Census have dependencies, we will attempt to use these materialized tables. You may need to ensure that our database connection has read access to these tables.
Once you’ve configured your project repository, Census will analyze your project and display the models you’ve made available. You’re now ready to start using these models as part of Census syncs!

dbt Continuous Integration (CI) Checks

For dbt models used in Census syncs, Census can check whether you are going to drop, rename, or move a model that will end up breaking an active sync in your account. When a Pull Request (or commit to a Pull Request) is created, dbt CI Checks will help ensure that your dbt development never unexpectedly breaks downstream Census syncs.

Installing Checks

To enable these CI checks, navigate to your dbt integration in Census and click "Enable CI/CD Tests in GitHub".
You can find dbt Checks in a new section of your dbt integration, under "Automatic tests in dbt".
Once you enable CI checks, Census will automatically run a sample check on a PR. You can then view the PR to see the results of the check.
If any tests do not pass, you can click "Details" to view more information about the results. You'll see a report of any broken models and their dependent syncs, with links to investigate these syncs further in Census.
A detailed view of the test failures.

Coordinating with dbt Cloud

If you're using dbt Cloud to run your dbt project, our integration goes even further. You can configure Census to automatically run syncs whenever your models have been rebuilt. See our documentation on connecting and configuring dbt Cloud.

Required data warehouse permissions

Census doesn't necessarily require the same permissions your dbt project needs because Census only runs the models you've exposed to Census during set up. Census only requires read access to your selected models and any of their materialized dependencies. That means you can use dbt's materialize configuration flag to create permissions boundaries. Once materialized dependencies are generated by dbt runner, Census will reference the materialized results when accessing your models.

dbt version and unsupported features

Our dbt integration is designed to pair nicely with your existing dbt runner, whether dbt Cloud or self-hosted. We do this by using the dbt compile command rather than the typical dbt run and then make use of the compiled output only.
As a result, there's several dbt features that Census does not make use of. These include:
  • Materialization directives. Census doesn’t currently materialize your tables back to your data warehouse. Census will however use materialized tables by your dbt runner to speed up the execution
  • Changing the default schema behavior by overriding the generate_schema_name macro​
  • Pre and post hooks
  • Non-public packages
Our dbt integration currently supports version 1.0, 1.2, and 1.3. We also post version support in our changelog.
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Last modified 2d ago