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Don't nest your curlies


Don't Nest Your Curlies

If dbt errors out early

and your Jinja is making you surly

don't post to the slack

just take a step back

and check if you're nesting your curlies.


When writing jinja code in a dbt project, it may be tempting to nest expressions inside of each other. Take this example:

  {{ dbt_utils.date_spine(
start_date=[ USE JINJA HERE ]

To nest a jinja expression inside of another jinja expression, simply place the desired code (without curly brackets) directly into the expression.

Correct example Here, the return value of the var() context method is supplied as the start_date argument to the date_spine macro. Great!

  {{ dbt_utils.date_spine(

Incorrect example This code does not work in dbt >= v0.15.0. Once we've denoted that we're inside a jinja expression (using the {{ syntax), no further curly brackets are required inside of the jinja expression. This code will supply a literal string value, "{{ var('start_date') }}", as the start_date argument to the date_spine macro. This is probably not what you actually want to do!

-- Do not do this! It will not work!

{{ dbt_utils.date_spine(
start_date="{{ var('start_date') }}"

Here's another example:

{# Either of these work #}

{% set query_sql = 'select * from ' ~ ref('my_model') %}

{% set query_sql %}
select * from {{ ref('my_model') }}
{% endset %}

{# This does not #}
{% set query_sql = "select * from {{ ref('my_model')}}" %}

An exception

There is one exception to this rule: curlies inside of curlies are acceptable in hooks (ie. on-run-start, on-run-end, pre-hook, and post-hook).

Code like this is both valid, and encouraged:

{{ config(post_hook="grant select on {{ this }} to role bi_role") }}

So why are curlies inside of curlies allowed in this case? Here, we actually want the string literal "grant select on {{ this }} ..." to be saved as the configuration value for the post-hook in this model. This string will be re-rendered when the model runs, resulting in a sensible SQL expression like grant select on "schema"."table".... being executed against the database. These hooks are a special exception to the rule stated above.