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The interface between Apache Avro and pandas DataFrame.


pandavro is available to install from PyPI.

$ pip install pandavro


It prepares like pandas APIs:

  • read_avro
    • Read the records from Avro file and fit them into pandas DataFrame using fastavro.
  • to_avro
    • Write the rows of pandas DataFrame to Avro file with the original schema infer.

What can and can't pandavro do?

Avro can represent the following kinds of types:

  • Primitive types (null, bool, int etc.)
  • Complex types (records, arrays, maps etc.)
  • Logical types (annotated primitive/complex type to represent e.g. datetime)

When converting to Avro, pandavro will try to infer the schema. It will output a non-nested schema without any indexes set on the dataframe and it will also not try to infer if any column can be nullable so all columns are set as nullable, i.e. a boolean will be encoded in Avro schema as ['null', 'bool'].

Pandavro can handle these primitive types:

Numpy/pandas type Avro primitive type
np.bool_ boolean
np.float32 float
np.float64 double
np.unicode_ string
np.object_ string
np.int8, np.int16, np.int32 int
np.uint8, np.uint16, np.uint32 int
np.int64, np.uint64 long
pd.Int8Dtype, pd.Int16Dtype, pd.Int32Dtype int
pd.UInt8Dtype, pd.UInt16Dtype, pd.UInt32Dtype "unsigned" int
pd.Int64Dtype long
pd.UInt64Dtype "unsigned" long

Pandas 0.24 added support for nullable integers, which we can easily represent in Avro. We represent the unsigned versions of these integers by adding the non-standard "unsigned" flag as such: {'type': 'int', 'unsigned': True}.

If a boolean column includes empty values, pandas classifies the column as having a dtype of object - this is accounted for in complex column handling.

And these complex types - all complex types other than 'fixed' will be classified by pandas as having a dtype of object, so their underlying python types are used to determine the Avro type:

Numpy/Python type Avro complex type
dict, collections.OrderedDict record
list array
np.void fixed

Record and array types can be arbitrarily nested within each other.

The schema definition of a record requires a unique name for the record separate from the column itself. This does not map to any concept in pandas, so for this we just append '_record' to the original column name and a number to ensure that there are zero duplicate 'name' values.

The remaining Avro complex types are not currently supported for the following reasons:

  1. Enum: The closest pandas type to Avro's enum type is pd.Categorical, but it still is not a complete match. Possible values of the enum type can only be alphanumeric strings, whereas pd.Categorical values have no such limitation.
  2. Map: No strictly matching concept in Python/pandas - Python dictionaries can have arbitrarily typed keys. Functionality can be essentially be achieved with the record type.
  3. Union: Any column with mixed types (other than empty values/NoneType) are treated by pandas as having a dtype of object, and will be written as strings. It would be difficult to deterministically infer multiple allowed data types based solely on a column's contents.

And these logical types:

Numpy/pandas type Avro logical type
np.datetime64, pd.DatetimeTZDtype, pd.Timestamp timestamp-micros/timezone-millis

Note that the timestamp must not contain any timezone (it must be naive) because Avro does not support timezones. Timestamps are encoded as microseconds by default, but can be encoded in milliseconds by using times_as_micros=False

If you don't want pandavro to infer this schema but instead define it yourself, pass it using the schema kwarg to to_avro.


import os
import numpy as np
import pandas as pd
import pandavro as pdx


def main():
    df = pd.DataFrame({"Boolean": [True, False, True, False],
                       "Float64": np.random.randn(4),
                       "Int64": np.random.randint(0, 10, 4),
                       "String": ['foo', 'bar', 'foo', 'bar'],
                       "DateTime64": [pd.Timestamp('20190101'), pd.Timestamp('20190102'),
                                      pd.Timestamp('20190103'), pd.Timestamp('20190104')]})

    pdx.to_avro(OUTPUT_PATH, df)
    saved = pdx.read_avro(OUTPUT_PATH)

if __name__ == '__main__':


Apache Avro <-> pandas DataFrame








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