Accessing HBase from Jython

This page describes the process of connecting to HBase from Jython. These instructions should help in connecting from other dynamic languages running on the JVM like Scala, JRuby, etc. The code mostly follows the Can someone give an example of basic API-usage going against hbase? example listed in the HBase FAQ.

Setting Your Classpath

Working with HBase from Jython is pretty simple assuming you've got your CLASSPATH set up. The CLASSPATH is an environment variable that is basically a module search path containing paths to jar files where the code you're going import/use lives. The HBase team are working on making it easy to set and get your CLASSPATH, but for now the way to get it is to start HBase:


and then get the classpath like so

ps ax | grep regionserver

Which will spit out a bunch of stuff. Within that blob of text is a -classpath option, which will likely contain a ton of paths to stuff. Alternatively, as regionserver seems not to be output any more, you could do:

ps auwx|grep java|grep org.apache.hadoop.hbase.master.HMaster|perl -pi -e "s/.*classpath //"

Copy that text and then do


My CLASSPATH then contains 24 entries. When you start Jython it will likely print some stuff to the screen about processing each of the jars listed in your CLASSPATH.

An alternative is to do the following:

$ HBASE_OPTS="-Dpython.path=$JYTHON_HOME" HBASE_CLASSPATH=$JYTHON_HOME/jython.jar ./bin/hbase org.python.util.jython
Jython 2.2.1 on java1.5.0_13
Type "copyright", "credits" or "license" for more information.
>>> from org.apache.hadoop.hbase.client import HTable

This will start up a jython shell with all of hbase and hadoop on its CLASSPATH. Be sure to define JYTHON_HOME so it points at your jython install.

Note: trying to add the hbase jars to jython sys.path (using for instance the JYTHONPATH) will not work. To use Hbase jar in jython you really need to use a pure java CLASSPATH.

The Code

Once you've got that set it's as simple as just translating the Java on the FAQ page to legal Jython.

The code below creates a table, puts some data in it, fetches that data back out and then deletes the table.

Note: BatchUpdate is now Deprecated. As of hbase 0.20.0, replaced by new org.apache.hadoop.hbase.client.Get

/Put/Delete/Result-based API.

import java.lang
from org.apache.hadoop.hbase import HBaseConfiguration, HTableDescriptor, HColumnDescriptor, HConstants
from org.apache.hadoop.hbase.client import HBaseAdmin, HTable
from import BatchUpdate, Cell, RowResult

# First get a conf object.  This will read in the configuration 
# that is out in your hbase-*.xml files such as location of the
# hbase master node.
conf = HBaseConfiguration()

# Create a table named 'test' that has two column families,
# one named 'content, and the other 'anchor'.  The colons
# are required for column family names.
tablename = "test"  

desc = HTableDescriptor(tablename)
admin = HBaseAdmin(conf)

# Drop and recreate if it exists
if admin.tableExists(tablename):

tables = admin.listTables()
table = HTable(conf, tablename)

# Add content to 'column:' on a row named 'row_x'
row = 'row_x'
update = BatchUpdate(row)
update.put('content:', 'some content')

# Now fetch the content just added, returns a byte[]
data_row = table.get(row, "content:")
data = java.lang.String(data_row.value, "UTF8")

print "The fetched row contains the value '%s'" % data

# Delete the table.

Another Sample

# Print all rows that are members of a particular column family 
# by passing a regex for family qualifier

import java.lang

from org.apache.hadoop.hbase import HBaseConfiguration
from org.apache.hadoop.hbase.client import HTable

conf = HBaseConfiguration()

table = HTable(conf, "wiki")
col = "title:.*$"

scanner = table.getScanner([col], "")
while 1:
    result =
    if not result:
    print java.lang.String(result.row), java.lang.String(result.get('title:').value)

Hbase/Jython (last edited 2009-12-03 16:22:20 by tuxracer69)