Add-On OCF Connector for dbt: Install and Configure


Generate a Manifest File


This section is only applicable to dbt Core. Users of dbt Cloud need to make sure they run their dbt project job routinely.

Before you can configure the dbt add-on connector in Alation, request your dbt admin to generate a manifest.json file using the dbt run or dbt docs commands. For more details on the manifest file, refer to Manifest. Place the manifest.json file in a location supported by Alation — AWS S3 or GitHub.

Storage for Manifest Files

The following storage locations are supported to store the manifest.json files:

  • GitHub

  • AWS S3

Alation needs access to the manifest file on the storage system you chose. If you chose to store it on AWS S3, see Create an AWS S3 User. If you choose to store it on GitHub, see Generate a Personal Access Token on GitHub.

Create an AWS S3 User


This section applies if you store the manifest.json files on AWS S3.

If you store multiple manifest files in different folders, access is required to the folders that have manifest files which need to be read by Alation. Create a user in AWS IAM with read-only access to the folder(s) that store the manifest file(s). Make sure to save the values of the access key and secret key. You will need to specify them in Alation when configuring the dbt add-on on your data source.

Generate a Personal Access Token on GitHub


This section is applicable, if the manifest.json files are stored on GitHub.

For the steps to create a token, refer to Create a Personal Access Token in GitHub documentation.


This section provides the URI required for dbt Cloud or dbt Core.

dbt Cloud URI


Account ID — Go to dbt > Account Settings. In the address bar you can find the Account_ID.



dbt Core

GitHub URI

To get the GitHub URI:

  1. Go to the repository that stores the manifest.json file and click the manifest.json file.

  2. Click the Raw button.

  1. Copy the part of the URL that inlcudes the repository name as shown below. The copied URL can be used as GitHub URI in Alation.


Access Token for dbt Cloud

To get the access token for dbt Cloud, see API Tokens.


API Key is called Access Token for dbt cloud in Alation.


Install the dbt Add-On OCF connector

Alation On-Premise


Installation of OCF connectors requires Alation Connector Manager to be installed as a prerequisite.

To install an OCF connector:

  1. If this has not been done on your instance, install the Alation Connector Manager: Install Alation Connector Manager.

  2. Ensure that the OCF connector Zip file is available on your local machine.

  3. Install the connector on the Connectors Dashboard page using the steps in Manage Connectors.

Alation Cloud Service


On Alation Cloud Service instances, Alation Connector Manager is available by default.

Depending on your network configuration, you may need to use Alation Agent to connect to databases.

Connection via Alation Agent
  1. Ensure that Alation Agent is enabled on your Alation instance. If necessary, create a Support ticket with Alation for an Alation representative to enable the Alation Agent feature on your instance and to receive the Alation Agent installer.

  2. Install the Alation Agent.

  3. Install the OCF connector on Alation Agent.

Connection Without Agent

To install an OCF connector:

  1. Ensure that the OCF connector Zip file is available on your local machine.

  2. Install the connector on the Connectors Dashboard page using the steps in Manage Connectors.


Install the dbt add-on connector on the same Alation Agent on which the primary connector is installed.


Enable the dbt Connector

To use the dbt add-on connector:

  1. Go to Admin Settings > Server Admin > Feature Configuration.

  2. Enable the Enable DBT Connector for OCF RDBMS sources (Paid Feature) flag. By default, this flag is disabled.

Enabling this feature will add the dbt connector configuration fields to the Settings page of the supported primary connectors (Snowflake, Redshift, PostgreSQL).

General Settings

After you have enabled the feature flag of the dbt connector, you can configure extraction from dbt on the General Settings tab of the primary connector:

  1. In Add-On Connector Settings, enable the Configure DBT OCF connector toggle. Once you enable the toggle, the DBT configuration settings fields will appear.

  2. Choose the DBT Configuration Settings (DBT Cloud or DBT Core) and click Save.

  3. If you selected DBT Cloud, specify the DBT configuration settings for DBT Cloud.



    Cloud URL

    Specify the dbt Cloud URL.

    Project(s) name

    Specify the projects name separated by comma.

    Example: project1, project2

    Access token

    Specify the dbt Cloud API Key assigned to the account Alation will use to make the API calls.

  4. If you selected DBT core, Specify the DBT configuration settings for DBT Core.



    Repository type

    Select a repository type from the droplist. The supported repository types are:

    • GitHub

    • Amazon S3


    GitHub URL

    Specify the GitHub URI in the required format.

    Manifest file(s) location

    Specify the manifest.json file locations separated by comma. The manifest.json file path:

    • Works with or without the leading slash and the trailing slash.

    • Folder name is case sensitive.

    Example: dbt/Manifest1/project1, dbt/Manifest2/project2

    Access Token

    Specify the GitHub personal access token.

    AWS S3


    Specify the AWS S3 region. Example: us-east-1

    Bucket Name

    Specify the AWS S3 bucket name.

    Manifest file(s) location

    Specify the manifest.json file locations separated by comma. The manifest.json file path:

    • Must not contain leading slash and trailing slash.

    • Folder name is case sensitive.

    Example: dbt/Manifest1/project1, dbt/Manifest2/project2

    Access Key

    Provide the AWS access key ID of the IAM user. Make sure that the IAM user has access to the destination bucket.

    Secret key

    Specify the secret key.

  1. Click Save.


Metadata Extraction

The metadata extraction from dbt will run as a child job of the primary connector’s MDE. To make sure that the extraction from dbt is successful:

  1. In the Extract Job Status section, click View Details.

  2. The successful extraction message will be displayed as shown below.


The descriptions extracted from dbt will be cataloged as Source Comments as shown below.


On the Snowflake data source, there is 90 minutes latency time to update views ACCOUNT_USAGE views. So the new descriptions created will be extracted during metadata extraction after the latency time. Refer to Account Usage — Snowflake Documentation for information about the latency time for each item.


The alias config can be used to change the name of a model’s identifier in the database. To display the alias name instead of the table name in the catalog, make sure you add the alias name to the model file before generating the manifest file. See Custom Aliases for more details.




Lineage is available from dbt Add-On OCF connector version 2.0.0 or later and Alation version 2023.1 or later. See Lineage Support for the types of materializations supported for each data source.


Query Log Ingestion must be performed first to get the Lineage generated in Alation.

The dbt Connector will add a Jinja tab to the dataflow object if Alation can match the compiled SQL from dbt to SQL extracted by the base connector’s QLI process.


Alation now provides the ability to represent lineage objects based on their logical alignment with the data source and dataflow objects: the Compound Layout View of the lineage data. The view supports the Show Parent/Show Children functionality which will display additional upstream and downstream lineage nodes that are not directly linked to the main object.

This feature is not enabled by default. To make it available on your Alation instance, set the following alation_conf flags to True:

  • alation.feature_flags.DEV_enable_lineage_asset_grouping—Enables the Compound Layout View toggle on the Lineage tab.

  • alation.feature_flags.DEV_enable_lineage_asset_grouping—Enables the three-dot menu on lineage nodes on the Compound Layout View.

  • alation.feature_flags.DEV_enable_lineage_collection_nodes_modal—Adds the Show Parent/Show Children functionality.

On the lineage diagram for objects that have dbt lineage, users will see the dbt dataflow objects grouped together for the supported data sources.


Compound Layout View currently doesn’t support column-level lineage.



Refer to Troubleshooting.