Creating your first dbt model

Are you ready to take your data modeling skills to the next level? Look no further than dbt, the data build tool that streamlines the process of transforming raw data into valuable insights. In this tutorial, we'll walk you through the steps of creating your first dbt model, from setting up your environment to writing SQL code that will transform your data.


Before we dive into the nitty-gritty of dbt modeling, let's make sure you have everything you need to get started. Here's what you'll need:

Setting up your environment

Once you have dbt installed, you'll need to set up your project directory. This is where you'll store all of your dbt models and related files. To create a new project directory, open your terminal and navigate to the directory where you want to create your project. Then, run the following command:

dbt init my_project

This will create a new directory called my_project with the following structure:

├── dbt_project.yml
├── models/
│   └──
└── analysis/

The dbt_project.yml file is the main configuration file for your project. It contains information about your data sources, target database, and other project-specific settings. The models directory is where you'll store your dbt models, and the analysis directory is where you'll store any analysis or reporting code that you write.

Connecting to your data source

Before you can start modeling your data, you'll need to connect dbt to your data source. To do this, you'll need to add a new section to your dbt_project.yml file. Here's an example configuration for connecting to a PostgreSQL database:

# dbt_project.yml

version: 2

# Configuration for connecting to your data source
# Replace the values in <> with your own information
    type: postgres
    host: <database_host>
    port: <database_port>
    user: <database_user>
    password: <database_password>
    database: <database_name>

Replace the values in < > with your own database information. Once you've added this configuration to your dbt_project.yml file, you can test your connection by running the following command:

dbt debug

This will test your connection and output any errors or warnings that dbt encounters.

Creating your first dbt model

Now that you're connected to your data source, it's time to create your first dbt model. A dbt model is a SQL query that transforms your raw data into a format that's more useful for analysis. To create a new model, navigate to your models directory and create a new file with a .sql extension. Here's an example model that calculates the total revenue for each customer:

-- models/revenue_by_customer.sql

{{ config(materialized='table') }}

  SUM(amount) AS total_revenue

Let's break down what's happening in this model:

Once you've written your model, you can run it by running the following command:

dbt run

This will compile your model into a SQL query and execute it against your data source. If everything goes well, you should see a message like this:

Running 1 model:
  * revenue_by_customer..................... [OK]

Completed successfully

Congratulations, you've just created your first dbt model!

Testing your dbt model

One of the key benefits of dbt is that it makes it easy to test your data transformations. To create a test for your model, create a new file in your models directory with a .sql extension. Here's an example test that checks that the total revenue for each customer is greater than zero:

-- models/revenue_by_customer_test.sql

  {{ ref('revenue_by_customer') }}
  total_revenue <= 0

This test selects the customer_id and total_revenue columns from the revenue_by_customer model, and filters the results to only include rows where the total_revenue is less than or equal to zero. If this test returns any rows, it means that there's a problem with your model.

To run your tests, run the following command:

dbt test

This will run all of the tests in your project and output any errors or warnings that dbt encounters.


Congratulations, you've just created your first dbt model! In this tutorial, we've covered the basics of setting up your dbt environment, connecting to your data source, creating a dbt model, and testing your model. With these skills under your belt, you're well on your way to becoming a dbt modeling expert.

If you're looking for more advanced dbt modeling techniques, check out our other tutorials and resources on Happy modeling!

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