Does BigQuery Support Scripting?


Scott Campbell

BigQuery is a powerful and versatile tool for analyzing and querying large datasets. It is a cloud-based data warehouse provided by Google Cloud Platform (GCP).

One common question that often arises is whether BigQuery supports scripting. In this article, we will explore the scripting capabilities of BigQuery and see how it can enhance your data analysis workflow.

Introduction to BigQuery

Before diving into the details of scripting in BigQuery, let’s quickly recap what BigQuery is all about. BigQuery is a fully-managed, serverless data warehouse that allows you to store, query, and analyze large datasets without having to worry about infrastructure management. It provides high scalability, lightning-fast performance, and seamless integration with other GCP services.

What is Scripting?

In the context of databases and data warehouses like BigQuery, scripting refers to the ability to write and execute multiple SQL statements in a single script file. This can be immensely useful when you need to perform complex operations or automate repetitive tasks that involve multiple queries.

Does BigQuery Support Scripting?

Yes, BigQuery does support scripting. It introduced the scripting functionality in May 2020 as part of its Standard SQL dialect. This means you can now write scripts containing multiple SQL statements in a single script file and execute them in one go.

How to Use Scripting in BigQuery

To use scripting in BigQuery, you need to follow a few simple steps:

Step 1: Enable Scripting

By default, scripting is not enabled for your project in BigQuery. To enable it, you can go to the GCP console or use the command-line tool `bq`. Simply run the following command:

bq update --use_legacy_sql=false

This command ensures that Standard SQL dialect is used throughout your project.

Step 2: Write Your Script

Once scripting is enabled, you can start writing your script. In BigQuery, a script is nothing but a series of SQL statements separated by semicolons. You can use any valid SQL statement, including SELECT, INSERT, UPDATE, and DELETE.

Here’s an example of a simple script that creates a table and inserts data into it:

CREATE TABLE my_table (id INT64, name STRING);
INSERT INTO my_table (id, name) VALUES (1, 'John'), (2, 'Jane');

In this example, we first create a table called `my_table` with two columns: `id` of type INT64 and `name` of type STRING. Then we insert two rows of data into the table.

Step 3: Execute the Script

To execute the script in BigQuery, you can use the `bq query` command-line tool or the BigQuery web UI. Simply copy and paste your script into the respective interface and hit the execute button.

When you execute a script in BigQuery, each SQL statement is executed in order. If any statement fails to execute successfully, the entire script will be rolled back to maintain data integrity.

Benefits of Scripting in BigQuery

Using scripting in BigQuery offers several benefits:

Improved Efficiency: With scripting, you can combine multiple queries into a single file and execute them all at once. This reduces the number of round trips between your application and BigQuery and improves overall efficiency.

Data Transformation: Scripting allows you to perform complex data transformations by chaining together multiple SQL statements. For example, you can join tables, apply filters, aggregate data, and more within a single script.

Better Organization: By grouping related queries together in a script file with proper comments and subheaders, you can achieve better organization and maintainability of your codebase.

Limitations of Scripting in BigQuery

While scripting in BigQuery provides great flexibility, there are a few limitations to keep in mind:

  • Script files cannot exceed 10MB in size.
  • The maximum number of statements in a script is limited to 50,000.
  • Only one DML (Data Manipulation Language) statement per transaction is allowed.


In conclusion, BigQuery does support scripting through its Standard SQL dialect. By enabling scripting and writing scripts containing multiple SQL statements, you can enhance your data analysis workflow, improve efficiency, and perform complex data transformations.

Remember to consider the limitations when working with scripts in BigQuery. So go ahead and leverage the power of scripting to unlock the full potential of BigQuery for your data analysis needs!

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