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Back to Basics: Understanding Data Engineering with Python

Written on November 06, 2023 by Rab Mattummal.

3 min read
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Embarking on the journey of data engineering with Python is an exciting endeavor. In this guide, we'll cover some fundamental concepts and provide real-life examples to solidify your understanding.

Why Python for Data Engineering?

Python has become a preferred language for data engineering due to its simplicity, readability, and a rich ecosystem of libraries. It enables data engineers to perform various tasks efficiently.

Data Representation and Manipulation

Lists and Dictionaries

In Python, lists and dictionaries are versatile data structures. Lists allow you to store and manipulate ordered collections, while dictionaries are handy for key-value pair storage.

# Example of a list
fruits = ['apple', 'banana', 'orange']
# Example of a dictionary
person = {'name': 'John', 'age': 30, 'city': 'New York'}

Pandas Library

The Pandas library is a powerful tool for data manipulation and analysis. It introduces the DataFrame, a two-dimensional table, which is especially useful for working with structured data.

import pandas as pd
# Creating a DataFrame
data = {'Name': ['Alice', 'Bob', 'Charlie'],
        'Age': [25, 30, 22]}
df = pd.DataFrame(data)

Data Processing

Reading and Writing Files

Python provides various libraries for reading and writing different file formats. For instance, using the csv module for CSV files or the pandas library for Excel files.

# Reading CSV file
import csv
with open('data.csv', 'r') as file:
    reader = csv.reader(file)
    for row in reader:

ETL (Extract, Transform, Load) Process

The ETL process is fundamental in data engineering. Python simplifies this process with libraries like pandas for transformations and SQLalchemy for database interactions.

# Example of data transformation using pandas
df['Birth_Year'] = 2023 - df['Age']

Data Storage

SQLite Database

For smaller-scale projects, SQLite is a lightweight, embedded database that Python supports out of the box.

import sqlite3
# Connecting to SQLite database
conn = sqlite3.connect('example.db')

BigQuery with Google Cloud

For larger-scale and cloud-based solutions, Python integrates seamlessly with Google Cloud's BigQuery, enabling efficient processing of massive datasets.

from import bigquery
# Connecting to BigQuery
client = bigquery.Client()


This brief guide scratches the surface of data engineering with Python. As you delve deeper, you'll discover a vast landscape of tools and techniques to process, store, and analyze data effectively. Happy coding!

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