Working with Catalog Data

Alation Cloud Service Applies to Alation Cloud Service instances of Alation

Customer Managed Applies to customer-managed instances of Alation

Alation makes it easy to review your data and to learn about the quality of the data. On each,

  • query

  • filter

  • column

  • table

  • schema

  • data source

you can

  • endorse

  • warn

  • deprecate

your data.

Have you found insights into the data? Add an endorsement. Are you aware of missing data? Add a warning with an explanation of the issue. Where an object should be avoided altogether, add a deprecation to warn users of data quality issues.

Alation provides a user interface for working with catalog data from your data sources. Alation tracks and displays editing history on data attributes, including data description, summary, and stewards. Some attributes are permanent and are always displayed. You can also create custom attributes that can be added or removed as needed.

In the catalog, the Alation data dictionary summarizes all titles, descriptions, and custom field values for a data source and child data objects. The dictionary includes all the data source information that is added to the catalog by users. When Alation users fill their catalog with content, including titles, descriptions, and custom field values, all of the information about data becomes an important asset in helping understand your data.

A synonym is a database object that has an alternative name for another database object. A synonym is used to create an abstraction between a database object and its user. Using synonyms can provide such benefits as:

  • simplified access to base objects with long and complex names

  • stability in database object referencing, in queries and applications

  • additional security for the base object name and location

Each table entry, associated with a synonym, includes the following columns to provide a granular view into your data:

  • name

  • title

  • type

  • popularity

The popularity column permits you to quickly assess which tables have the most relevant information and which tables are rarely used. Popularity is determined using an algorithm that accounts for

  • the number of data source accounts that used the object

  • the number of times the object was used

  • the number of Alation users that used the object

  • the number of times the object was used

displays data samples from the base table if Profiling is performed for the synonym.

Additional data insight is provided by the following capabilities:

  • By default, Alation scans the first 10,000 rows of your table and stores the first 100 rows as sample data.

  • You can specify synonym filtering using dedicated synonym filters.

  • You can view joins information for the synonym.

  • You can view table lineage of data ingested into Alation and created in Alation.

  • Alation lists published Compose queries that use the synonym.

The lineage for any Alation database is created by parsing queries from the query log, directly from Compose, and view SQL. As queries are parsed, Alation looks for CREATE, ALTER, INSERT statements, which it uses to build the table-level lineage.

If you want to export this information for analysis, you can use the data dictionary download to do that. Moreover, you can upload a data dictionary from a source file to bulk-update field values on a data source.

This section shows you how to work with these catalog data entities.