A Python in-memory test stub for BigQuery
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Latest commit 9382b18 Jun 19, 2018



tinyquery is a partial implementation of the BigQuery API that runs completely in-memory in Python code. If you have Python code that uses the BigQuery API, you may be able to use tinyquery to make your automated tests orders of magnitude faster, more reliable, and less annoying to run.

There are still lots of missing pieces, but enough of the API and SQL language is filled in that it can be used for some production-size BigQuery pipelines.


BigQuery is a Google service that lets you import giant data sets and run arbitrary SQL queries over them. The most common use case is to allow people to dig into their data manually using SQL, but BigQuery also lets you build complex data pipelines entirely in SQL, which has a number of advantages over other approaches like MapReduce.

One of the biggest challenges when writing a data pipeline on top of BigQuery is writing high-quality automated tests. Normally, you're left with a few less-than-perfect options:

  • Skip automated testing and rely only on manual testing.
  • Swap out the BigQuery service with a mock object that asserts the API usage and returns pre-canned results. This lets you test some basic things, but won't give you confidence in your system if most of your business logic is in SQL.
  • Run tests against some other SQL implementation that can be run locally. Since every dialect of SQL is different (and with BigQuery having a dramatically different architecture than a typical relational database), this would likely cause more trouble than it's worth.
  • Run tests against the real BigQuery service. This is probably the best option, but has a few problems:
    • The tests can get very slow as the code gets more complex, since they will involve lots of network I/O over the internet and BigQuery operations tend to have highly-variable response times anyway.
    • Anyone running your test needs to have the right credentials to access BigQuery.
    • Running the test requires an internet connection.
    • If you don't take additional measures, two people running the test at the same time could trample each other's test state and cause confusing test failures.

tinyquery lets you write a test against the real BigQuery API, then swap out BigQuery for a fake implementation for fast iteration. For example, tinyquery was used to dramatically improve a test at Khan Academy that ran a large data pipeline three times in different conditions. Originally, the test took about 8 minutes (and at its worst point took about an hour to run) and required some manual steps. After modifying the test to use tinyquery, the test now takes 2 seconds to run and can be run as part of the regular build process (or manually by any developer) without any extra work.

How to use

tinyquery is a drop-in replacement as long as you're accessing the BigQuery API using the Python client library.

Here's the basic setup code that you would use to get started:

from tinyquery import tinyquery
from tinyquery import api_client
tq_service = tinyquery.TinyQuery()
tq_api_client = api_client.TinyQueryApiClient(tq_service)

The tq_service instance gives you direct Python access to various tinyquery operations. The tq_api_client instance is an API wrapper that you can patch/inject into your production code as a replacement for the return value of apiclient.discovery.build().

If your code catches the apiclient.errors.HttpError exception, you may also want to patch tinyquery.api_client.FakeHttpError with that class.


  • Almost all of the core SQL language: SELECT, FROM, WHERE, HAVING, GROUP BY, JOIN (including LEFT OUTER JOIN and CROSS JOIN), LIMIT, subqueries.
  • Many of the common functions and operators. See runtime.py for a list.
  • Importing from CSV.
  • API wrappers for creating, getting, and deleting tables, and for creating and managing query and copy jobs and getting query results.

What's missing?

  • Many features that behave uniquely with repeated and record fields:
    • WITHIN and scoped aggregation
  • Window functions and OVER/PARTITION BY.
  • Various operators and functions.
  • Lots of API operations are unsupported. The ones that are supported are missing various return fields from the API.
  • There are some edge cases in the core language where BigQuery and tinyquery differ:
    • differences involving fully-qualified column names (e.g. table_alias.column being allowed in tinyquery but not BigQuery or vice versa).
    • tinyquery allows SELECTing from multiple repeated fields more often than bigquery does.




tinyquery is licensed under the MIT License.



Pinned dependencies to versions.


Initial release to PyPI.