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Designed byVuk Ercegovac (Google)
First appearedOctober 9, 2008; 15 years ago (2008-10-09)
Stable release
0.5.1 / July 12, 2010; 14 years ago (2010-07-12)
Implementation languageJava
LicenseApache License 2.0
Major implementations
IBM BigInsights

Jaql (pronounced "jackal") is a functional data processing and query language most commonly used for JSON query processing on big data.

It started as an open source project at Google[1] but the latest release was on 2010-07-12. IBM[2] took it over as primary data processing language for their Hadoop software package BigInsights.

Although having been developed for JSON it supports a variety of other data sources like CSV, TSV, XML.

A comparison[3] to other BigData query languages like PIG Latin and Hive QL illustrates performance and usability aspects of these technologies.

Jaql supports[4] lazy evaluation, so expressions are only materialized when needed.


The basic concept of Jaql is

source -> operator(parameter) -> sink ;

where a sink can be a source for a downstream operator. So typically a Jaql program has to following structure, expressing a data processing graph:

source -> operator1(parameter) -> operator2(parameter) -> operator2(parameter) -> operator3(parameter) -> operator4(parameter) -> sink ;

Most commonly for readability reasons Jaql programs are linebreaked after the arrow, as is also a common idiom in Twitter Scalding:

source -> operator1(parameter)
-> operator2(parameter)
-> operator2(parameter)
-> operator3(parameter)
-> operator4(parameter)
-> sink ;

Core operators[edit]



Use the EXPAND expression to flatten nested arrays. This expression takes as input an array of nested arrays [ [ T ] ] and produces an output array [ T ], by promoting the elements of each nested array to the top-level output array.


Use the FILTER operator to filter away elements from the specified input array. This operator takes as input an array of elements of type T and outputs an array of the same type, retaining those elements for which a predicate evaluates to true. It is the Jaql equivalent of the SQL WHERE clause. Example:

data = [
  {name: "Jon Doe", income: 20000, manager: false},
  {name: "Vince Wayne", income: 32500, manager: false},
  {name: "Jane Dean", income: 72000, manager: true},
  {name: "Alex Smith", income: 25000, manager: false}

data -> filter $.manager;

    "income": 72000,
    "manager": true,
    "name": "Jane Dean"

data -> filter $.income < 30000;

    "income": 20000,
    "manager": false,
    "name": "Jon Doe"
    "income": 25000,
    "manager": false,
    "name": "Alex Smith"


Use the GROUP expression to group one or more input arrays on a grouping key and applies an aggregate function per group.


Use the JOIN operator to express a join between two or more input arrays. This operator supports multiple types of joins, including natural, left-outer, right-outer, and outer joins.


Use the SORT operator to sort an input by one or more fields.


The TOP expression selects the first k elements of its input. If a comparator is provided, the output is semantically equivalent to sorting the input, then selecting the first k elements.


Use the TRANSFORM operator to realize a projection or to apply a function to all items of an output.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]