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Azure Data Factory

ADF Switch Activity – A neat solution for nested IFs.

Whilst carrying out some work for a client using Azure Data Factory I was presented with the challenge of triggering different activities depending on the result of a stored procedure.

In fact the challenge posed was to…

  • Execute ‘Copy A’ activity if the result of a stored procedure returned (A),
  • Execute ‘Copy B’ activity if the result of a stored procedure returned (B),
  • Execute ‘Copy C’ activity if the result of a stored procedure returned (C)
  • Finally execute an error stored procedure if the result of the stored procedure returned (D).

Prior to the switch statement I could achieve this using 4 ‘IF’ activities connected to a lookup activity as shown in the snip below using my ‘Wait’ example pipeline.

However a neater solution is to use the ‘Switch’ activity to do this work instead. I’ll now jump straight into a worked example to show you how I achieved this.

I created a demo.RandomNumberGenerator stored procedure in our Purple Frog Demo database which declares a variable and sets it equal to a random number between 1 and 4. The stored procedure then uses this variable in a case statement to return a string. So if the @randomnumber variable returns 1 the case statement returns ‘Wait 1 Minute’.

I then used a lookup activity in ADF to return the result of this stored procedure which I then used to ‘feed’ my ‘Switch’ activity.

When I preview this lookup activity it just returns the result of the stored procedure. When this is run time and time again it just returns a random ‘ADFAction’ as named in my case statement generated by my rand() SQL function. So in the scenario above it returned an action of ‘Wait 1 Minute’. If I were to preview the stored procedure again it might return ‘Wait 4 Minutes’ instead.

I can then connect my switch activity to this lookup activity using the ‘success’ green output connector.

I now need to add some dynamic content to refer to the output of my lookup activity. I don’t need to create dynamic nested IF content to say if my stored procedure equals ‘Wait 1 Minute’ then do this, if my stored procedure equals ‘Wait 2 Minutes’ then do this… all I need to do is refer to the output of the connected lookup activity ‘Random Number Lookup Activity’.

So in my example this is simply just @activity(‘Random Number Lookup Activity’).output.firstrow.adfaction. ADF will then match the output of the stored procedure to the case statements I provide it. The default activity is just a set of activities that are executed when the expression evaluation isn’t satisfied. I.e. the output of my the stored procedure doesn’t match any of the case statements I provide it.

In the snip below I have provided 4 case statements which match all of the possible outputs from my stored procedure. Essentially there isn’t any need for default activity as my stored procedure will always return 1 of 4 results but it’s useful to know for future reference.

Within each case statement there is an activity for which I would like ADF to perform if it matches the result of my stored procedure. In my example these are just ‘Wait’ activities. So if the stored procedure returns ‘Wait 1 Minute’ I’ve put a ‘Wait’ activity within the case statement to wait 1 minute (or 60 seconds).

When I first ran this pipeline in debug mode I could see that the output of the stored procedure was ‘Wait 2 Minutes’. The switch activity then matched this to the case statements I provided and performed the activity within the ‘Wait 2 Minutes’ case statement and triggered my ‘Wait 2 Minutes’ activity.

When I debugged another run my stored procedure returned ‘Wait 4 Minutes’. The switch activity then executed my ‘Wait 4 Minutes’ activity. Perfect!

So it’s pretty much as simple that!

I hope this helps all you ADF’ers out there!

ADF: Where have my connections gone?

If you’ve been doing any development work in ADF this week you might have noticed that “Connections” has moved. But where has it gone?

The old location

When you click onto “Connections” now you’ll receive the following message:

Management Hub?

Clicking this button takes you to the new Management Hub, the new fourth icon which goes alongside the existing three.

New Manage (Management Hub)

Within this area you now have access to your Linked Services, Integration Runtimes and Triggers. These all have the same options as before, they’ve just moved!

Moved options and New options

You do now have access to more detailed Git configuration options and also the ability to change the Parameterization templates for your ARM templates. This is only accessible when you have a Git repository set up and the Parameter file within it.

You can currently still access Triggers from the main Author window, but I would recommend getting used to finding them in the Management Hub to keep everything together.

Release details of the Management Hub from Microsoft can be found here: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/data-factory/author-management-hub

Azure Data Factory (ADF) Parent Activities don’t trigger ON ERROR OUTPUT when Child Activities Error… What happens?

So that title is a big question that a client of ours came across that required some additional investigation… What does happen and how do we get around it?

In the below example we’ll use a simple IF Activity as our Parent Activity. To explain briefly how it functions, you provide it with a query that evaluates to either True of False. This then passes down to a set of Activities If True and a different set of Activities If False. We then have three Outputs, On Success, On Failure and On Completion. This looks like:

(Image 1) Pipeline with If Activity and three outputs

The IF Activity therefore has logically four different things it does given the query criteria:

  1. If the query evaluates correctly, then:
    • If True, Pass to True Activities
    • If False, Pass to False Activities
  2. Error Activity if the query doesn’t evaluate to True or False.

Following that, we have the below options:

  • When 1. If True Activities complete with Success, Trigger On Success Output and On Completion Output
  • When 1. If False Activities complete with Success, Trigger On Success Output and On Completion Output
  • When 2. completes with Error, Trigger On Error Output and On Completion Output

The issue occurs with the below options:
What happens when the If True Activities complete with Error?
What happens when the If False Activities complete with Error?

Logically you would expect that to cause the IF Activity to error as well. Right? WRONG!

Although it shows as if it has an error in the pipeline view:

(Image 2) If Condition Error, without passing down On Success or On Failure?

The details show “Activity failed because an inner activity failed.”:

(Image 3) If Condition Error Message

This means that the IF Activity itself has still started down it’s success pathway and is now just showing the error from further down. This causes the IF Activity to complete with neither Success or Error! (You can see this in Image 2 above). You can also see that the On Completion Output has triggered successfully.

This means that the Error Output of the If Activity can only be used to handle Errors on the Evaluation of the If Query itself. (When it can’t get to true or false, or can’t execute for another reason).

If you want to monitor the steps inside the IF Activity, you’ll need to put those output pathways inside the True and/or False activities themselves and handle this at a deeper level.

I have launched a new twitter account http://www.twitter.com/PurpleFrogReiss so please follow me there for updates on when I post new blog posts!

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The Frog Blog

Team Purple Frog specialise in designing and implementing Microsoft Data Analytics solutions, including Data Warehouses, Cubes, SQL Server, SSIS, ADF, SSAS, Power BI, MDX, DAX, Machine Learning and more.

This is a collection of thoughts, ramblings and ideas that we think would be useful to share.

Authors:

Alex Whittles
(MVP)
Reiss McSporran
Jeet Kainth
Jon Fletcher
Nick Edwards
Joe Billingham

Data Platform MVP

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