Tutorial: Do batch processing with .NET for Apache Spark

In this tutorial, you learn how to do batch processing using .NET for Apache Spark. Batch processing is the transformation of data at rest, meaning that the source data has already been loaded into data storage.

Batch processing is generally performed over large, flat datasets that need to be prepared for further analysis. Log processing and data warehousing are common batch processing scenarios. In this scenario, you analyze information about GitHub projects, such as the number of time different projects have been forked or how recently projects have been updated.

In this tutorial, you learn how to:

  • Create and run a .NET for Apache Spark application
  • Read data into a DataFrame and prepare it for analysis
  • Process the data using Spark SQL


.NET for Apache Spark targets an out of support version of .NET (.NET Core 3.1). For more details see the .NET Support Policy.


If this is your first time using .NET for Apache Spark, check out the Get started with .NET for Apache Spark tutorial to learn how to prepare your environment and run your first .NET for Apache Spark application.

Download the sample data

GHTorrent monitors all public GitHub events, such as info about projects, commits, and watchers, and stores the events and their structure in databases. Data collected over different time periods is available as downloadable archives. Because the dump files are very large, this guide uses a truncated version of the dump file that can be downloaded from GitHub.


The GHTorrent dataset is distributed under a dual licensing scheme (Creative Commons +). For non-commercial uses (including, but not limited to, educational, research or personal uses), the dataset is distributed under the CC-BY-SA license.

Create a console application

  1. In your command prompt, run the following commands to create a new console application:

    dotnet new console -o mySparkBatchApp
    cd mySparkBatchApp

    The dotnet command creates a new application of type console for you. The -o parameter creates a directory named mySparkBatchApp where your app is stored and populates it with the required files. The cd mySparkBatchApp command changes the directory to the app directory you just created.

  2. To use .NET for Apache Spark in an app, install the Microsoft.Spark package. In your console, run the following command:

    dotnet add package Microsoft.Spark

Create a SparkSession

  1. Add the following additional using statements to the top of the Program.cs file in mySparkBatchApp.

    using System;
    using Microsoft.Spark.Sql;
    using static Microsoft.Spark.Sql.Functions;
  2. Add the following code to your project namespace. s_referenceData is used later in the program to filter based on date.

    static readonly DateTime s_referenceDate = new DateTime(2015, 10, 20);
  3. Add the following code inside your Main method to establish a new SparkSession. The SparkSession is the entry point to programming Spark with the Dataset and DataFrame API. By calling the spark object, you can access Spark and DataFrame functionality throughout your program.

    SparkSession spark = SparkSession
         .AppName("GitHub and Spark Batch")

Prepare the data

  1. Read the input file into a DataFrame, which is a distributed collection of data organized into named columns. You can set the columns for your data through Schema. Use the Show method to display the data in your DataFrame. Be sure to update the CSV file path to the location of the GitHub data you downloaded.

    DataFrame projectsDf = spark
        .Schema("id INT, url STRING, owner_id INT, " +
        "name STRING, descriptor STRING, language STRING, " +
        "created_at STRING, forked_from INT, deleted STRING," +
        "updated_at STRING")
  2. Use the Na method to drop rows with NA (null) values, and the Drop method to remove certain columns from your data. This helps prevent errors if you try to analyze null data or columns that are not relevant to your final analysis.

    // Drop any rows with NA values
    DataFrameNaFunctions dropEmptyProjects = projectsDf.Na();
    DataFrame cleanedProjects = dropEmptyProjects.Drop("any");
    // Remove unnecessary columns
    cleanedProjects = cleanedProjects.Drop("id", "url", "owner_id");

Analyze the data

Spark SQL allows you to make SQL calls on your data. It's common to combine user-defined functions and Spark SQL to apply a user-defined function to all rows of your DataFrame.

You can specifically call spark.Sql to mimic standard SQL calls seen in other types of apps. You can also call methods like GroupBy and Agg to specifically combine, filter, and perform calculations on your data.

The goal of this app is to gain some insights about the GitHub projects data. Add the following code snippets to your program to analyze the data.

  1. Add the following block of code finds the number of times each language has been forked. First, the data is grouped by language. Then, the average number of forks from each language is taken.

    // Average number of times each language has been forked
    DataFrame groupedDF = cleanedProjects
  2. Add the following block of code to order the average number of forks in descending order to see which languages are the most forked. That is, the largest number of forks will appear first.

    // Sort by most forked languages first
  3. The next block of code shows you how recently projects have been updated. You register a new user-defined function called MyUDF and compare it with a date, s_referenceDate, which was declared at the beginning of the tutorial. The date for each project is compared against the reference date. Then, Spark SQL is used to call the UDF on each row of the data to analyze each project in the data set.

    spark.Udf().Register<string, bool>(
        (date) => DateTime.TryParse(date, out DateTime convertedDate) &&
            (convertedDate > s_referenceDate));
    DataFrame dateDf = spark.Sql(
        "SELECT *, MyUDF(dateView.updated_at) AS datebefore FROM dateView");
  4. Call spark.Stop() to end the SparkSession.

Use spark-submit to run your app

  1. Use the following command to build your .NET app:

    dotnet build
  2. Run your app with spark-submit. Be sure to update the following command with the actual paths to your Microsoft Spark jar file.

    spark-submit --class org.apache.spark.deploy.dotnet.DotnetRunner --master local /<path>/to/microsoft-spark-<spark_majorversion-spark_minorversion>_<scala_majorversion.scala_minorversion>-<spark_dotnet_version>.jar dotnet /<path>/to/netcoreapp<version>/mySparkBatchApp.dll

Get the code

You can see the full solution on GitHub.

Next steps

Advance to the next article to learn how to process streaming data with .NET for Apache Spark.