c324596 Jul 16, 2016
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U-SQL Release Notes 2016-07-14

Breaking Changes

Start of Deprecation of {col:*} File Set pattern.

So far, one could write either {col} or {col:*} in a File Set pattern to wildcard part of a file path and expose that part as a column with the name col. {col} required that a predicate on col was specified in the script while {col:*} indicated that the predicate was not required.

After receiving some customer feedback and observing customer issues, we decided that offering these two closely related options added too much complexity. Thus, the {col:*} pattern will be deprecated in the following steps in starting with this release and the requirement to add a predicate will be dropped:

  1. Current release: U-SQL supports both {col} and {col:*} as synonyms without requiring the predicate. A warning is raised if the script uses the {col:*} pattern.

  2. A future release (probably before the GA release): U-SQL will remove {col:*} and will only support {col}.

So please start to replace your {col:*} with {col}. Note that it is still good practise to add a predicate on such columns to reduce the number of processed files.

We will announce the future phase out on our blog/release notes.

As an aside: The {*} pattern is still supported for unnamed wildcards.

Major U-SQL Bug Fixes

Space encoding in file paths are fixed

In previous releases, specifying paths with special characters such as spaces were causing the following problems:

  • Files paths with spaces were not found in file set specifications.
  • Some file locations would work with URI escaped paths but others would not.

These issues have been fixed:

  • File Set wildcards will match file paths with special characters in file paths such as spaces and will expose them in the virtual column unescaped, e.g. a virtual column pattern matching the file part "filename with spaces" will now will show "filename with spaces".
  • In order to specify spaces in file paths, the provided file path has to be specified with the standard URL encoding for spaces: %20. For example, if you want to EXTRACT from a file "filename with spaces.csv" you write FROM "filename%20with%20spaces.csv".

Data corruption due to non-determinism during writing into a U-SQL table is fixed

Under some conditions such as a plan that contains vertices that write to a table and any other location (including another vertex, table or file), and one of these vertices has to be rerun, there is a chance that the table meta data was not correctly updated. This would manifest itself in corrupted, non-readable tables. With this release, this condition has been addressed.

New U-SQL capabilities

PRESORT on REDUCE is now supported to provide the ability to do custom ordered aggregators/reducers.

For an example see

U-SQL now supports adding and removing columns on U-SQL tables

U-SQL now supports the ability to add columns to or remove columns from U-SQL tables with the following statement:

Alter_Table_AddDrop_Column_Statement :=
 	'ALTER' 'TABLE' Identifier 
	( 'ADD' 'COLUMN' Column_Definition_List 
	| 'DROP' 'COLUMN' Identifier_List  ).

Adding or dropping a column from a table is a meta data operation only and its performance will not be impacted by the size of the table. If the added column is of a nullable type, existing rows will contain null in the added column, if the added column is of a not-nullable type, then the column will contain the type's default value (e.g., 0 for type int).


CREATE TABLE Logs(date DateTime, 
                  eventType int, 
                  eventTime DateTime, 
                  INDEX Index_EventType CLUSTERED (eventType ASC)  PARTITIONED BY (date) DISTRIBUTED BY HASH(eventType) INTO 3);

// Add a column
ALTER TABLE Logs ADD COLUMN eventName string;

// add another column

// drop a column and add another one
ALTER TABLE Logs ADD COLUMN clientId string;

// drop a column and add 3 more columns
ALTER TABLE Logs ADD COLUMN result string, clientId string, payload int?;

// drop 2 columns
ALTER TABLE Logs DROP COLUMN clientId, result;

U-SQL now supports referencing custom assembly objects such as C# user-defined functions inside DECLARE statement.



DECLARE @myvar string = "string "+myns.myclass.mystringfn();

Note that these declarations are not constant-foldable.

U-SQL now supports a USING directive that allows shortening U-SQL custom code object references.

The new USING directive is similar to the C# using directive in that it allows to shorten function, type, extention methods, and UDO path names.


Using_Directive := 'USING' 	csharp_namespace 
                          | Alias '=' csharp_namespace_or_type. 

Examples: In this example we default C# namespace resolution to the specified namespace:

DECLARE @ input string = "somejsonfile.json";

REFERENCE ASSEMBLY [Microsoft.Analytics.Samples.Formats];

USING Microsoft.Analytics.Samples.Formats.Json;

@data0 = 
    EXTRACT IPAddresses string
    FROM @input
    USING new JsonExtractor("Devices[*]");


In this example we use an alias to shorten the namespace path with an alias:

DECLARE @ input string = "somejsonfile.json";

REFERENCE ASSEMBLY [Microsoft.Analytics.Samples.Formats];

USING json = Microsoft.Analytics.Samples.Formats.Json;

@data0 = 
    EXTRACT IPAddresses string
    FROM @input
    USING new json.JsonExtractor("Devices[*]");


In the following example, we alias the full type name. Note that we support quoting the name to allow all uppercase namespaces.

DECLARE @ input string = "somejsonfile.json";

REFERENCE ASSEMBLY [Microsoft.Analytics.Samples.Formats];

USING json = [Microsoft.Analytics.Samples.Formats.Json.JsonExtractor];

@data0 = 
    EXTRACT IPAddresses string
    FROM @input
    USING new json("Devices[*]");


Visual Studio ADL Tool Provides Local Failed Vertex Debug for Self-service Debugging

U-SQL provides a great extensibility model through C#, but sometimes the failures in your customized C# code are hard to debug. In the latest Azure Data Lake Tools for Visual Studio, you can debug failed customized C# code by downloading resources from your ADLA cluster to your local machine, and run the exact same code in both the cluster and local environment to catch the error and fix the code. The tool also provides a straightforward UI to help you download the required resources to your local machine for self-service debugging and troubleshooting. You can refer to this guide ( to learn more.


In order to get access to the new syntactic features and new tool capabilities on your local environment, you will need to refresh your ADL Tools. Otherwise you will not be able to use them during local run and submission to the cluster will give you syntax warnings for the new language features.