What Is Struct Data Type in Spark?


Scott Campbell

What Is Struct Data Type in Spark?

Apache Spark is a powerful open-source framework used for big data processing and analytics. It provides a high-level programming interface for distributed data processing, making it easier to work with large datasets.

One of the key features of Spark is its support for structured data processing using the Structured API.

Structured Data Processing in Spark

Spark’s Structured API allows you to work with structured and semi-structured data efficiently. It provides a higher level of abstraction compared to the lower-level RDD (Resilient Distributed Dataset) API, making it easier to express complex data transformations and queries.

At the core of Spark’s Structured API is the struct data type. The struct data type represents a structured object or record that consists of one or more fields.

Each field has a name and a corresponding data type.

Defining Struct Types in Spark

To define a struct type in Spark, you can use the StructType class. This class allows you to specify the fields of the struct type along with their names and data types. Here’s an example:

import org.apache.spark.sql.types._

val schema = new StructType()
  .add("name", StringType)
  .add("age", IntegerType)
  .add("city", StringType)

In this example, we define a struct type with three fields: “name” of type StringType, “age” of type IntegerType, and “city” of type StringType.

Working with Struct Types in Spark SQL

Once you have defined a struct type, you can use it to create structured DataFrame or Dataset objects in Spark SQL. These structured objects provide a tabular view of the data, similar to a table in a relational database.

You can perform various operations on structured objects, such as filtering, aggregating, joining, and sorting the data. Spark’s optimizer takes care of optimizing these operations for efficient execution on distributed clusters.

Example: Creating a Structured DataFrame

Here’s an example that demonstrates how to create a structured DataFrame using a struct type:

import org._

val spark = SparkSession.builder()

val data = Seq(
  Row("John Doe", 30, "New York"),
  Row("Jane Smith", 25, "San Francisco"),
  Row("Bob Johnson", 35, "Chicago")

val schema = new StructType()
  .add("city", StringType)

val df = spark.createDataFrame(spark.sparkContext.parallelize(data), schema)

In this example, we create a DataFrame with three rows and three columns using the struct type we defined earlier. The resulting DataFrame looks like this:

  • name: John Doe | age: 30 | city: New York
  • name: Jane Smith | age: 25 | city: San Francisco
  • name: Bob Johnson | age: 35 | city: Chicago


In conclusion, the struct data type in Apache Spark’s Structured API provides a powerful way to work with structured data. It allows you to define complex data structures and perform efficient data processing operations on distributed clusters.

By leveraging the struct type and Spark’s high-level programming interface, you can unlock the full potential of big data processing and analytics.

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