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What is “view chaining” in Snowflake?


What is "view chaining" in Snowflake?

Daniel Steinhold Answered question August 7, 2023

"View chaining" in Snowflake refers to the practice of creating one or more views that are built upon or reference other views. This creates a chain or hierarchy of views where the output of one view is used as the input for another, allowing for progressively more complex data transformations and abstractions.

View chaining is a powerful technique that offers several benefits:

1. **Modularity and Reusability:** By breaking down complex logic into smaller, more manageable views, you can create modular components that can be reused across different queries and analyses.
2. **Data Abstraction:** Each layer of chained views can abstract away certain complexities, presenting users with a simplified and meaningful representation of the data.
3. **Simplified Queries:** Views can simplify the querying process by encapsulating complex joins, aggregations, and calculations. Chaining views can make queries more concise and easier to read.
4. **Security and Access Control:** Views can be used to enforce data access controls and expose only the required attributes to different users or roles. Chaining views allows you to control data exposure at different levels of abstraction.
5. **Performance Optimization:** Views can help optimize performance by precomputing and storing intermediate results. Chaining views can further enhance performance by building on these optimized results.
6. **Data Consistency:** Chaining views ensures that multiple users or applications access the same derived data, promoting consistency across analyses.

Here's a simplified example of view chaining:

Suppose you have three views: **`RawSalesData`**, **`MonthlySales`**, and **`QuarterlySummary`**.

1. **`RawSalesData`**: Contains raw sales data from a table.
2. **`MonthlySales`**: Aggregates data from **`RawSalesData`** to calculate monthly sales totals.
3. **`QuarterlySummary`**: Aggregates data from **`MonthlySales`** to provide a summary of sales for each quarter.

By chaining these views, you can build complex summaries starting from raw data while maintaining a clear and organized structure. A query on **`QuarterlySummary`** would implicitly include the calculations and transformations defined in the previous views.

Here's an example of chaining views:

sqlCopy code
YEAR(SaleDate) AS SaleYear,
MONTH(SaleDate) AS SaleMonth,
SUM(Revenue) AS TotalRevenue
FROM RawSalesData
GROUP BY SaleYear, SaleMonth;

CREATE VIEW QuarterlySummary AS
(SaleMonth - 1) / 3 + 1 AS Quarter,
SUM(TotalRevenue) AS TotalQuarterlyRevenue
FROM MonthlySales
GROUP BY SaleYear, Quarter;


In this example, **`MonthlySales`** chains on **`RawSalesData`**, and **`QuarterlySummary`** chains on **`MonthlySales`**. The result is a chain of views where each view builds upon the output of the previous one.

View chaining is a flexible approach to data transformation and organization, allowing you to create a layered architecture that enhances data management, analysis, and reporting.

Daniel Steinhold Answered question August 7, 2023
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