Apache Spark Session

Apache Spark Session : What is it and How to Create it ?

In this short article we will discuss about Apache Spark Session. What is it and how to create it on our production system.


An Apache Spark Session is the entry point and central interface for interacting with Apache Spark in a programmatic way. It provides a unified and high-level API for working with structured and unstructured data in a distributed computing environment. A Spark Session allows you to perform various data processing tasks, such as reading and writing data, executing SQL queries, and performing distributed machine learning.

Apache Spark Session Key Features

Here are some key features and functionalities of Apache Spark Session:

  • Unified Interface: A Spark Session provides a single interface for interacting with different Spark components, including Spark Core, Spark SQL, Spark Streaming, MLlib (machine learning library), and GraphX. It simplifies the process of working with various Spark features.
  • Data Source APIs: Spark Session allows you to read and write data from a variety of data sources, such as Hadoop Distributed File System (HDFS), Apache Cassandra, Apache HBase, Amazon S3, relational databases, JSON, CSV, Parquet, Avro, and more. It provides APIs to load, process, and store data efficiently.
  • DataFrame and Dataset APIs: Spark Session introduces the DataFrame and Dataset APIs, which provide a structured and type-safe way of working with distributed data. DataFrames and Datasets are distributed collections of data organized into named columns, similar to tables in a relational database. They support a wide range of operations, including filtering, aggregation, joining, and complex data transformations.
  • SQL and Hive Support: Spark Session enables you to execute SQL queries on DataFrames and Datasets using Spark SQL. It provides a SQL-like query interface, allowing you to leverage your SQL skills to analyze and manipulate data. Additionally, Spark Session integrates with the Hive metastore, enabling you to access and query Hive tables directly.
  • Interactive Shell: Spark Session provides an interactive shell called Spark Shell, which allows you to interactively experiment and explore data using Spark. The Spark Shell supports Scala, Python, and R languages, making it convenient for data exploration and prototyping.
  • Cluster Resource Management: Spark Session supports various cluster managers like Apache Mesos, Hadoop YARN, and Kubernetes, allowing you to run Spark on clusters managed by these systems. It abstracts away the complexities of cluster resource management, enabling you to focus on your data processing tasks.
  • Configuration and Fine-Tuning: Spark Session provides configuration options to customize the behavior and performance of Spark. You can set properties like the number of executor cores, memory allocation, shuffle partitioning, and more to optimize the execution of your Spark applications.
  • Integration with External Libraries: Spark Session integrates with external libraries and tools, such as machine learning libraries (MLlib) for distributed machine learning tasks, GraphX for graph processing, and Spark Streaming for real-time data processing. It allows you to leverage the capabilities of these libraries seamlessly within your Spark applications.

Creating Apache Spark Session

To create an Apache Spark session, we need to write code in one of the supported programming languages such as Scala, Python, or Java.

Here’s an example using Scala:

1. Import the necessary SparkSession class:

import org.apache.spark.sql.SparkSession

2. Create a SparkSession object:

val spark = SparkSession
.master("local[*]") // Set the Spark master URL

In the code above, builder() is used to create a builder object for SparkSession. We can specify various configuration options using methods like appName() (to set the application name), and master() (to set the Spark master URL). The getOrCreate() method either creates a new session or returns an existing one.

You can now use the spark object to perform various operations using Spark. For example, reading data from a file:

val data = spark.read.csv("path/to/file.csv")

3. Once we have finished using Spark, you should stop the session to release the resources:



The above example assumes you are running Spark in local mode using all available cores (local[*]). You can specify a different master URL if you want to run Spark on a cluster.


If you’re using Python or Java, the process is similar, but with slightly different syntax. Here’s an example using Python:

1. Import the necessary SparkSession class:

from pyspark.sql import SparkSession

2. Create a SparkSession object:

spark = SparkSession.builder \
.appName("YourAppName") \
.master("local[*]") # Set the Spark master URL \

3. Use the spark object to perform Spark operations:

data = spark.read.csv("path/to/file.csv")

4. Stop the Spark session:


Remember to adjust the code according to your specific needs, such as setting the appropriate application name and file paths.


By using the Spark Session, we can harness the power of Apache Spark’s distributed computing capabilities to process large volumes of data efficiently and perform complex analytics tasks.

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