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Connect to Airtable as an External Data Source using PolyBase

Use the CData ODBC Driver for Airtable and PolyBase to create an external data source in SQL Server 2019 with access to live Airtable data.

PolyBase for SQL Server allows you to query external data by using the same Transact-SQL syntax used to query a database table. When paired with the CData ODBC Driver for Airtable, you get access to your Airtable data directly alongside your SQL Server data. This article walks through creating an external data source and external tables to grant access to live Airtable data using T-SQL queries.

The CData ODBC drivers offer unmatched performance for interacting with live Airtable data using PolyBase due to optimized data processing built into the driver. When you issue complex SQL queries from SQL Server to Airtable, the driver pushes down supported SQL operations, like filters and aggregations, directly to Airtable and utilizes the embedded SQL engine to process unsupported operations (often SQL functions and JOIN operations) client-side. And with PolyBase, you can also join SQL Server data with Airtable data, using a single query to pull data from distributed sources.

Connect to Airtable

If you have not already, first specify connection properties in an ODBC DSN (data source name). This is the last step of the driver installation. You can use the Microsoft ODBC Data Source Administrator to create and configure ODBC DSNs. To create an external data source in SQL Server using PolyBase, configure a System DSN (CData Airtable Sys is created automatically).

APIKey, BaseId and TableNames parameters are required to connect to Airtable. ViewNames is an optional parameter where views of the tables may be specified.

  • APIKey : API Key of your account. To obtain this value, after logging in go to Account. In API section click Generate API key.
  • BaseId : Id of your base. To obtain this value, it is in the same section as the APIKey. Click on Airtable API, or navigate to https://airtable.com/api and select a base. In the introduction section you can find "The ID of this base is appxxN2ftedc0nEG7."
  • TableNames : A comma separated list of table names for the selected base. These are the same names of tables as found in the UI.
  • ViewNames : A comma separated list of views in the format of (table.view) names. These are the same names of the views as found in the UI.

Click "Test Connection" to ensure that the DSN is connected to Airtable properly. Navigate to the Tables tab to review the table definitions for Airtable.

Create an External Data Source for Airtable Data

After configuring the connection, you need to create a master encryption key and a credential database for the external data source.

Creating a Master Encryption Key

Execute the following SQL command to create a new master key, 'ENCRYPTION,' to encrypt the credentials for the external data source.

CREATE MASTER KEY ENCRYPTION BY PASSWORD = 'password';

Creating a Credential Database

Execute the following SQL command to create credentials for the external data source connected to Airtable data.

NOTE: Since Airtable does not require a User or Password to authenticate, you may use whatever values you wish for IDENTITY and SECRET.

CREATE DATABASE SCOPED CREDENTIAL airtable_creds
WITH IDENTITY = 'username', SECRET = 'password';

Create an External Data Source for Airtable

Execute the following SQL command to create an external data source for Airtable with PolyBase, using the DSN and credentials configured earlier.

For Airtable, set SERVERNAME to 'localhost' or '127.0.0.1' and leave PORT empty. PUSHDOWN is set to ON by default, meaning the ODBC Driver can leverage server-side processing for complex queries.

CREATE EXTERNAL DATA SOURCE cdata_airtable_source
WITH ( 
  LOCATION = 'odbc://SERVERNAME[:PORT]',
  CONNECTION_OPTIONS = 'DSN=CData Airtable Sys',
  -- PUSHDOWN = ON | OFF,
  CREDENTIAL = airtable_creds
);

Create External Tables for Airtable

After creating the external data source, use CREATE EXTERNAL TABLE statements to link to Airtable data from your SQL Server instance. The table column definitions must match those exposed by the CData ODBC Driver for Airtable. You can refer to the Tables tab of the DSN Configuration Wizard to see the table definition.

Sample CREATE TABLE Statement

The statement to create an external table based on a Airtable SampleTable_1 would look similar to the following:

CREATE EXTERNAL TABLE SampleTable_1(
  Id [nvarchar](255) NULL,
  Column1 [nvarchar](255) NULL,
  ...
) WITH ( 
  LOCATION='SampleTable_1',
  DATA_SOURCE=cdata_airtable_source
);

Having created external tables for Airtable in your SQL Server instance, you are now able to query local and remote data simultaneously. Thanks to built-in query processing in the CData ODBC Driver, you know that as much query processing as possible is being pushed to Airtable, freeing up local resources and computing power. Download a free, 30-day trial of the ODBC Driver for Airtable and start working with live Airtable data alongside your SQL Server data today.