Trello to Databricks

This page provides you with instructions on how to extract data from Trello and load it into Delta Lake on Databricks. (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 Trello?

Trello is a collaboration tool that organizes projects into boards, each of which can be filled with lists of notes that outline tasks for a team, complete with photos, documents, and other attachments. It includes tools to comment and collaborate among teammates. You can use it as a web-based project management application.

What is Delta Lake?

Delta Lake is an open source storage layer that sits on top of existing data lake file storage, such AWS S3, Azure Data Lake Storage, or HDFS. It uses versioned Apache Parquet files to store data, and a transaction log to keep track of commits, to provide capabilities like ACID transactions, data versioning, and audit history.

Getting data out of Trello

To claim your data from Trello, you can extract it from Trello's servers using the Trello API, a REST API that exposes endpoints that provide information on boards, lists, cards, and actions. For instance, to get data about a list, you might run /lists/[id].

Sample Trello data

The Trello API returns JSON-formatted data. Here's an example of the kind of response you might see when querying for the details of a list.

[{
    "id": "4efe314cc72846af4e00008a",
    "data": {
        "list": {
            "id": "4eea4ffc91e31d174600004a",
            "name": "To Do Soon"
        },
        "board": {
            "id": "4eea4ffc91e31d1746000046",
            "name": "Example Board"
        },
        "old": {
            "name": "To Do Later"
        }
    },
    "date": "2017-12-30T21:46:52.874Z",
    "idMemberCreator": "4ee7deffe582acdec80000ac",
    "type": "updateList",
    "memberCreator": {
        "id": "4ee7deffe582acdec80000ac",
        "avatarHash": null,
        "fullName": "Joe Tester",
        "initials": "JT",
        "username": "joetester"
    }
}, {
    "id": "4efe3147c72846af4e00006d",
    "data": {
        "list": {
            "id": "4eea4ffc91e31d174600004a",
            "name": "To Do Later"
        },
        "board": {
            "id": "4eea4ffc91e31d1746000046",
            "name": "Example Board"
        },
        "old": {
            "name": "To Do Eventually"
        }
    },
    "date": "2017-12-30T21:46:47.843Z",
    "idMemberCreator": "4ee7deffe582acdec80000ac",
    "type": "updateList",
    "memberCreator": {
        "id": "4ee7deffe582acdec80000ac",
        "avatarHash": null,
        "fullName": "Joe Tester",
        "initials": "JT",
        "username": "joetester"
    }
}]

Preparing Trello data

This part can get tricky: You need to parse the JSON in the API response and map each field to a corresponding table in the destination database. You'll need a solid handle on the datatypes for each endpoint. The Stitch Trello Docs can give you a sense of what datatypes will come through the API.

Loading data into Delta Lake on Databricks

To create a Delta table, you can use existing Apache Spark SQL code and change the format from parquet, csv, or json to delta. Once you have a Delta table, you can write data into it using Apache Spark's Structured Streaming API. The Delta Lake transaction log guarantees exactly-once processing, even when there are other streams or batch queries running concurrently against the table. By default, streams run in append mode, which adds new records to the table. Databricks provides quickstart documentation that explains the whole process.

Keeping Trello data up to date

At this point you've coded up a script or written a program to get the data you want and successfully moved it into your data warehouse. But how will you load new or updated data? It's not a good idea to replicate all of your data each time you have updated records. That process would be painfully slow and resource-intensive.

Instead, identify key fields that your script can use to bookmark its progression through the data and use to pick up where it left off as it looks for updated data. Auto-incrementing fields such as updated_at or created_at work best for this. When you've built in this functionality, you can set up your script as a cron job or continuous loop to get new data as it appears in Trello.

And remember, as with any code, once you write it, you have to maintain it. If Trello modifies its API, or the API sends a field with a datatype your code doesn't recognize, you may have to modify the script. If your users want slightly different information, you definitely will have to.

Other data warehouse options

Delta Lake on Databricks 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, or Snowflake, which are RDBMSes that use similar SQL syntax, or Panoply, which works with Redshift instances. 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 Trello to Delta Lake on Databricks automatically. With just a few clicks, Stitch starts extracting your Trello data, structuring it in a way that's optimized for analysis, and inserting that data into your Delta Lake on Databricks data warehouse.