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dbt-athena Upgrade Guidance

We have now fully migrated to using dbt-athena recommended by dbt as our interface with AWS. The guidance below details how you can properly test your models during software updates to the dbt-athena-community adapter. If you have any issues please get in touch via the #ask-data-modelling channel.

Table of contents

Test set up

We have created a branch called dbt-athena-upgrade-182 which contains all the latest models, sources, seeds, macros from the main branch as of the start of the update process (that is everything that exists in prod) and all the required upgrades. The main upgrades which you need to be aware of are:

  • dbt-athena-community 1.8.2.
  • dbt-core 1.8.1.
  • dbt-adapters 1.3.1 please note this package is NOT backwards compatible.

To set up for testing you will need to checkout this branch, uninstall the old adapter and rerun the requirements files to update your local venv with the correct versions. In Terminal (with your venv active) in the root directory run the following to pull the latest from main, switch to dbt-athena-upgrade-182 and update your venv:

git switch main
git fetch
git pull
git switch dbt-athena-upgrade-182

Next, install the new requirements files.

pip install -r requirements.txt
pip install -r requirements-lint.txt

To check you have the correct set up list your local environment packages with

pip list --local

and check the list output for dbt-core 1.8.1, dbt-athena-community 1.8.2 and dbt-adapters 1.3.1

Full evironment set up guidance here.

Test prod models

To test your prod models you need to create your own branch off the dbt-athena-upgrade-182 branch, deploy your models in dev, run your dbt tests and lint. You can also manually run equality tests in Athena to compare tables from prod created using the old dbt-athena adapter to the tables you have just created in dev using dbt-athena-community adapter.

To explicitly create a new branch off dbt-athena-upgrade-182 run the following:

git checkout -b <new-branch-name> dbt-athena-upgrade-182

All your prod models have the external_location parameter inserted into a config block at the top of each .sql file (see the Insert external_location section for more details).

As a consequence all prod models are already deployed into dev by the deploy-dev workflow. However, for robustness, we would still like you to test your prod models by deploying them yourselves; cd into the mojap_derived_tables directory to run dbt commands as usual.

If you have any issues due to redeploying please delete your dev models and try again, see Delete dev models instructions.

Once you have deployed your models please run your tests and lint.

Please keep us up to date with your progress in the #ask-data-modelling channel. When all users are happy that prod models are deploying as expected using the upgrades we will merge the branch dbt-athena-upgrade-182 into main.

 Test dev models

Once you have completed testing of your prod models you may wish to continue testing with your dev models. To do this you will need to create another branch off dbt-athena-upgrade-182 (see instructions above) and then merge into this from your feature branch. For example, I have some dev models on a branch called my-feature-branch so:

git checkout -b new-test-branch dbt-athena-upgrade-182
git fetch origin my-feature-branch
git pull origin my-feature-branch
git merge origin/my-feature-branch

This creates a new branch new-test-branch off dbt-athena-upgrade-182 branch and then collects the changes from my-feature-branch and merges these in to new-test-branch. After the first command check you are on the new-test-branch before proceeding.

Once you have created a branch from the upgrade, you may then run dev deployments of any models you own/work on to test that you are able to deploy them successfully, as before, with the command:

dbt build --select ./path/to/your/model

Which will then run any models and tests associated with them at the path selected.

Update your feature branch with the dbt-athena upgrades during testing

While we are testing we may make changes to the dbt-athena-upgrade-182 branch which you will then need to merge into your branches. Whilst on the branch you want to update with the latest from dbt-athena-upgrade-182 run:

git fetch origin dbt-athena-upgrade-182
git pull origin dbt-athena-upgrade-182
git merge origin/dbt-athena-upgrade-182

At this point you may have merge conflicts that need to be resolved; please see GitHub resolve merge conflicts. If required, ask for help on the #ask-data-modelling slack channel.

Working with the current version after testing.

As noted above, the dbt-adapters package is required for working with dbt-core >= 1.8.0. However, it will NOT be uninstalled by pip when reinstalling a lower versioned instance of dbt-core, and WILL cause compatability issues and errors if left alone. Thankfully, it is easy to fix, as you simply need to run

git switch main
pip uninstall dbt-adapters -y
pip install -r requirements.txt

As long as you uninstall dbt-adapters before reinstalling the current requirements, this should resolve any issues that would otherwise be caused by it.


Unless stated otherwise, the codebase is released under the MIT License. This covers both the codebase and any sample code in the documentation.

The documentation is © Crown copyright and available under the terms of the Open Government 3.0 licence.

This page was last reviewed on 13 June 2023. It needs to be reviewed again on 13 June 2024 by the page owner #ask-data-modelling .
This page was set to be reviewed before 13 June 2024 by the page owner #ask-data-modelling. This might mean the content is out of date.