AWS Big Data Blog

Use AWS Glue Data Catalog views to analyze data

In this post, we show you how to use the new views feature the AWS Glue Data Catalog. SQL views are a powerful object used across relational databases. You can use views to decrease the time to insights of data by tailoring the data that is queried. Additionally, you can use the power of SQL in a view to express complex boundaries in data across multiple tables that can’t be expressed with simpler permissions. Data lakes provide customers the flexibility required to derive useful insights from data across many sources and many use cases. Data consumers can consume data where they need to across lines of business, increasing the velocity of insights generation.

Customers use many different processing engines in their data lakes, each of which have their own version of views with different capabilities. The AWS Glue Data Catalog and AWS Lake Formation provide a central location to manage your data across data lake engines.

AWS Glue has released a new feature, SQL views, which allows you to manage a single view object in the Data Catalog that can be queried from SQL engines. You can create a single view object with a different SQL version for each engine you want to query, such as Amazon Athena, Amazon Redshift, and Spark SQL on Amazon EMR. You can then manage access to these resources using the same Lake Formation permissions that are used to control tables in the data lake.

Solution overview

For this post, we use the Women’s E-Commerce Clothing Review. The objective is to create views in the Data Catalog so you can create a single common view schema and metadata object to use across engines (in this case, Athena). Doing so lets you use the same views across your data lakes to fit your use case. We create a view to mask the customer_id column in this dataset, then we will share this view to another user so that they can query this masked view.


Before you can create a view in the AWS Glue Data Catalog, make sure that you have an AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) role with the following configuration:

  • The following trust policy:
      "Version": "2012-10-17",
      "Statement": [
          "Effect": "Allow",
          "Principal": {
            "Service": [
          "Action": "sts:AssumeRole"
  • The following pass role policy:
      "Version": "2012-10-17",
      "Statement": [
          "Sid": "Stmt1",
          "Action": [
          "Effect": "Allow",
          "Resource": "*",
          "Condition": {
             "StringEquals": {
               "iam:PassedToService": [
  • Finally, you will also need the following permissions:
    • "Glue:GetDatabase",
    • "Glue:GetDatabases",
    • "Glue:CreateTable",
    • "Glue:GetTable",
    • "Glue:UpdateTable",
    • "Glue:DeleteTable",
    • "Glue:GetTables",
    • "Glue:SearchTables",
    • "Glue:BatchGetPartition",
    • "Glue:GetPartitions",
    • "Glue:GetPartition",
    • "Glue:GetTableVersion",
    • "Glue:GetTableVersions"

Run the AWS CloudFormation template

You can deploy the AWS CloudFormation template glueviewsblog.yaml to create the Lake Formation database and table. The dataset will be loaded into an Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) bucket.

For step-by-step instructions, refer to Creating a stack on the AWS CloudFormation console.

When the stack is complete, you can see a table called clothing_parquet on the Lake Formation console, as shown in the following screenshot.

Create a view on the Athena console

Now that you have your Lake Formation managed table, you can open the Athena console and create a Data Catalog view. Complete the following steps:

  1. In the Athena query editor, run the following query on the Parquet dataset:
SELECT * FROM "clothing_reviews"."clothing_parquet" limit 10;

In the query results, the customer_id column is currently visible.

Next, you create a view called hidden_customerID and mask the customer_id column.

  1. Create a view called hidden_customerID:
SELECT * FROM clothing_reviews.clothing_parquet

In the following screenshot, you can see a view called hidden_customerID was successfully created.

  1. Run the following query to mask the first four characters of the customer_id column for the newly generated view:
ALTER VIEW clothing_reviews.hidden_customerid UPDATE DIALECT AS
SELECT '****' || substring(customer_id, 4) as customer_id,clothing_id,age,title,review_text,rating,recommend_ind,positive_feedback,division_name,department_name,class_name 
FROM clothing_reviews.clothing_parquet

You can see in the following screenshot that the view hidden_customerID has the customer_id column’s first four characters masked.

The original table clothing_parquet remains the same unmasked.

Grant access of the view to another user to query

Data Catalog views allow you to use Lake Formation to control access. In this step, you grant this view to another user called amazon_business_analyst and then query from that user.

  1. Sign in to the Lake Formation console as admin.
  2. In the navigation pane, choose Views.

As shown in the following screenshot, you can see the hidden_customerid view.

  1. Sign in as the amazon_business_analyst user and navigate to the Views page.

This user has no visibility to the view.

  1. Grant permission to the amazon_business_analyst user from the data lake admin.
  1. Sign in again as amazon_business_analyst and navigate to the Views page.

  1. On the Athena console, query the hidden_customerid view.

You have successfully shared a view to the user and queried it from the Athena console.

Clean up

To avoid incurring future charges, delete the CloudFormation stack. For instructions, refer to Deleting a stack on the AWS CloudFormation console.


In this post, we demonstrated how to use the AWS Glue Data Catalog to create views. We then showed how to alter the views and mask the data. You can share the view with different users to query using Athena. For more information about this new feature, refer to Using AWS Glue Data Catalog views.

About the Authors

Leonardo Gomez is a Principal Analytics Specialist Solutions Architect at AWS. He has over a decade of experience in data management, helping customers around the globe address their business and technical needs. Connect with him on LinkedIn

Michael Chess – is a Product Manager on the AWS Lake Formation team based out of Palo Alto, CA. He specializes in permissions and data catalog features in the data lake.

Derek Liu – is a Senior Solutions Architect based out of Vancouver, BC. He enjoys helping customers solve big data challenges through AWS analytic services.