GitHub to Azure Synapse

This page provides you with instructions on how to extract data from GitHub and load it into Azure Synapse. (If this manual process sounds onerous, check out Stitch, which can do all the heavy lifting for you in just a few clicks.)

What is GitHub?

GitHub is a hosting service for computer code and other resources managed by the Git version control and source code management system. It provides collaboration features such as bug tracking, feature requests, task management, and wikis for hosted projects.

What is Azure Synapse?

Azure Synapse (formerly Azure SQL Data Warehouse) is a cloud-based petabyte-scale columnar database service with controls to manage compute and storage resources independently. It offers encryption of data at rest and dynamic data masking to mask sensitive data on the fly, and it integrates with Azure Active Directory. It can replicate to read-only databases in different geographic regions for load balancing and fault tolerance.

Getting data out of GitHub

GitHub has a REST API that you can use to get information about projects, repositories, pull requests, and just about every other kind of data GitHub stores. For example, to get information about an issue, you would issue the call GET /repos/:owner/:repo/issues/:number.

Sample GitHub data

Here's an example of the kind of response you might see with a query like the one above.

{
  "id": 1,
  "node_id": "MDU6SXNzdWUx",
  "url": "https://api.github.com/repos/octocat/Hello-World/issues/1347",
  "repository_url": "https://api.github.com/repos/octocat/Hello-World",
  "labels_url": "https://api.github.com/repos/octocat/Hello-World/issues/1347/labels{/name}",
  "comments_url": "https://api.github.com/repos/octocat/Hello-World/issues/1347/comments",
  "events_url": "https://api.github.com/repos/octocat/Hello-World/issues/1347/events",
  "html_url": "https://github.com/octocat/Hello-World/issues/1347",
  "number": 1347,
  "state": "open",
  "title": "Found a bug",
  "body": "I'm having a problem with this.",
  "user": {
    "login": "octocat",
    "id": 1,
    "node_id": "MDQ6VXNlcjE=",
    "avatar_url": "https://github.com/images/error/octocat_happy.gif",
    "gravatar_id": "",
    "url": "https://api.github.com/users/octocat",
    "html_url": "https://github.com/octocat",
    "followers_url": "https://api.github.com/users/octocat/followers",
    "following_url": "https://api.github.com/users/octocat/following{/other_user}",
    "gists_url": "https://api.github.com/users/octocat/gists{/gist_id}",
    "starred_url": "https://api.github.com/users/octocat/starred{/owner}{/repo}",
    "subscriptions_url": "https://api.github.com/users/octocat/subscriptions",
    "organizations_url": "https://api.github.com/users/octocat/orgs",
    "repos_url": "https://api.github.com/users/octocat/repos",
    "events_url": "https://api.github.com/users/octocat/events{/privacy}",
    "received_events_url": "https://api.github.com/users/octocat/received_events",
    "type": "User",
    "site_admin": false
  },
  "labels": [
    {
      "id": 208045946,
      "node_id": "MDU6TGFiZWwyMDgwNDU5NDY=",
      "url": "https://api.github.com/repos/octocat/Hello-World/labels/bug",
      "name": "bug",
      "description": "Something isn't working",
      "color": "f29513",
      "default": true
    }
  ],
  "assignee": {
    "login": "octocat",
    "id": 1,
    "node_id": "MDQ6VXNlcjE=",
    "avatar_url": "https://github.com/images/error/octocat_happy.gif",
    "gravatar_id": "",
    "url": "https://api.github.com/users/octocat",
    "html_url": "https://github.com/octocat",
    "followers_url": "https://api.github.com/users/octocat/followers",
    "following_url": "https://api.github.com/users/octocat/following{/other_user}",
    "gists_url": "https://api.github.com/users/octocat/gists{/gist_id}",
    "starred_url": "https://api.github.com/users/octocat/starred{/owner}{/repo}",
    "subscriptions_url": "https://api.github.com/users/octocat/subscriptions",
    "organizations_url": "https://api.github.com/users/octocat/orgs",
    "repos_url": "https://api.github.com/users/octocat/repos",
    "events_url": "https://api.github.com/users/octocat/events{/privacy}",
    "received_events_url": "https://api.github.com/users/octocat/received_events",
    "type": "User",
    "site_admin": false
  },
  "assignees": [
    {
      "login": "octocat",
      "id": 1,
      "node_id": "MDQ6VXNlcjE=",
      "avatar_url": "https://github.com/images/error/octocat_happy.gif",
      "gravatar_id": "",
      "url": "https://api.github.com/users/octocat",
      "html_url": "https://github.com/octocat",
      "followers_url": "https://api.github.com/users/octocat/followers",
      "following_url": "https://api.github.com/users/octocat/following{/other_user}",
      "gists_url": "https://api.github.com/users/octocat/gists{/gist_id}",
      "starred_url": "https://api.github.com/users/octocat/starred{/owner}{/repo}",
      "subscriptions_url": "https://api.github.com/users/octocat/subscriptions",
      "organizations_url": "https://api.github.com/users/octocat/orgs",
      "repos_url": "https://api.github.com/users/octocat/repos",
      "events_url": "https://api.github.com/users/octocat/events{/privacy}",
      "received_events_url": "https://api.github.com/users/octocat/received_events",
      "type": "User",
      "site_admin": false
    }
  ],
  "milestone": {
    "url": "https://api.github.com/repos/octocat/Hello-World/milestones/1",
    "html_url": "https://github.com/octocat/Hello-World/milestones/v1.0",
    "labels_url": "https://api.github.com/repos/octocat/Hello-World/milestones/1/labels",
    "id": 1002604,
    "node_id": "MDk6TWlsZXN0b25lMTAwMjYwNA==",
    "number": 1,
    "state": "open",
    "title": "v1.0",
    "description": "Tracking milestone for version 1.0",
    "creator": {
      "login": "octocat",
      "id": 1,
      "node_id": "MDQ6VXNlcjE=",
      "avatar_url": "https://github.com/images/error/octocat_happy.gif",
      "gravatar_id": "",
      "url": "https://api.github.com/users/octocat",
      "html_url": "https://github.com/octocat",
      "followers_url": "https://api.github.com/users/octocat/followers",
      "following_url": "https://api.github.com/users/octocat/following{/other_user}",
      "gists_url": "https://api.github.com/users/octocat/gists{/gist_id}",
      "starred_url": "https://api.github.com/users/octocat/starred{/owner}{/repo}",
      "subscriptions_url": "https://api.github.com/users/octocat/subscriptions",
      "organizations_url": "https://api.github.com/users/octocat/orgs",
      "repos_url": "https://api.github.com/users/octocat/repos",
      "events_url": "https://api.github.com/users/octocat/events{/privacy}",
      "received_events_url": "https://api.github.com/users/octocat/received_events",
      "type": "User",
      "site_admin": false
    },
    "open_issues": 4,
    "closed_issues": 8,
    "created_at": "2015-04-10T20:09:31Z",
    "updated_at": "2018-03-03T18:58:10Z",
    "closed_at": "2017-02-12T13:22:01Z",
    "due_on": "2016-10-09T23:39:01Z"
  },
  "locked": true,
  "active_lock_reason": "too heated",
  "comments": 0,
  "pull_request": {
    "url": "https://api.github.com/repos/octocat/Hello-World/pulls/1347",
    "html_url": "https://github.com/octocat/Hello-World/pull/1347",
    "diff_url": "https://github.com/octocat/Hello-World/pull/1347.diff",
    "patch_url": "https://github.com/octocat/Hello-World/pull/1347.patch"
  },
  "closed_at": null,
  "created_at": "2015-04-22T13:33:48Z",
  "updated_at": "2015-04-22T13:33:48Z",
  "closed_by": {
    "login": "octocat",
    "id": 1,
    "node_id": "MDQ6VXNlcjE=",
    "avatar_url": "https://github.com/images/error/octocat_happy.gif",
    "gravatar_id": "",
    "url": "https://api.github.com/users/octocat",
    "html_url": "https://github.com/octocat",
    "followers_url": "https://api.github.com/users/octocat/followers",
    "following_url": "https://api.github.com/users/octocat/following{/other_user}",
    "gists_url": "https://api.github.com/users/octocat/gists{/gist_id}",
    "starred_url": "https://api.github.com/users/octocat/starred{/owner}{/repo}",
    "subscriptions_url": "https://api.github.com/users/octocat/subscriptions",
    "organizations_url": "https://api.github.com/users/octocat/orgs",
    "repos_url": "https://api.github.com/users/octocat/repos",
    "events_url": "https://api.github.com/users/octocat/events{/privacy}",
    "received_events_url": "https://api.github.com/users/octocat/received_events",
    "type": "User",
    "site_admin": false
  }
}

Whew!

Loading data into Azure Synapse

Azure Synapse provides a multi-step process for loading data. After extracting the data from its source, you can move it to Azure Blob storage or Azure Data Lake Store. You can then use one of three utilities to load the data:

  • AZCopy uses the public internet.
  • Azure ExpressRoute routes the data through a dedicated private connection to Azure, bypassing the public internet by using a VPN or point-to-point Ethernet network.
  • The Azure Data Factory (ADF) cloud service has a gateway that you can install on your local server, then use to create a pipeline to move data to Azure Storage.

From Azure Storage you can load the data into Azure Synapse staging tables by using Microsoft's PolyBase technology. You can run any transformations you need while the data is in staging, then insert it into production tables. Microsoft offers documentation for the whole process.

Keeping GitHub data up to date

Now what? You've built a script that pulls data from the GitHub API and loads it into your data warehouse, but what happens tomorrow when you have new data?

The key is to build your script in such a way that it can identify incremental updates to your data. Thankfully, many of GitHub's API results include fields like created_at that allow you to identify records that are new since your last update (or since the newest record you've copied). Once you've take new data into account, you can set your script up as a cron job or continuous loop to keep pulling down new data as it appears.

Other data warehouse options

Azure Synapse is great, but sometimes you need to optimize for different things when you're choosing a data warehouse. Some folks choose to go with Amazon Redshift, Google BigQuery, PostgreSQL, Snowflake, or Panoply, which are RDBMSes that use similar SQL syntax. Others choose a data lake, like Amazon S3. If you're interested in seeing the relevant steps for loading data into one of these platforms, check out To Redshift, To BigQuery, To Postgres, To Snowflake, To Panoply, and To S3.

Easier and faster alternatives

If all this sounds a bit overwhelming, don’t be alarmed. If you have all the skills necessary to go through this process, chances are building and maintaining a script like this isn’t a very high-leverage use of your time.

Thankfully, products like Stitch were built to move data from GitHub to Azure Synapse automatically. With just a few clicks, Stitch starts extracting your GitHub data via the API, structuring it in a way that's optimized for analysis, and inserting that data into your Azure Synapse data warehouse.