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About dbt compile command

dbt compile generates executable SQL from source model, test, and analysis files. You can find these compiled SQL files in the target/ directory of your dbt project.

The compile command is useful for:

  1. Visually inspecting the compiled output of model files. This is useful for validating complex jinja logic or macro usage.
  2. Manually running compiled SQL. While debugging a model or schema test, it's often useful to execute the underlying select statement to find the source of the bug.
  3. Compiling analysis files. Read more about analysis files here.

Some common misconceptions:

  • dbt compile is not a pre-requisite of dbt run, or other building commands. Those commands will handle compilation themselves.
  • If you just want dbt to read and validate your project code, without connecting to the data warehouse, use dbt parse instead.

The command accesses the data platform to cache-related metadata, and to run introspective queries. Use the flags:

  • --no-populate-cache to disable the initial cache population. If metadata is needed, it will be a cache miss, requiring dbt to run the metadata query. This is a dbt flag, which means you need to add dbt as a prefix. For example: dbt --no-populate-cache.
  • --no-introspect to disable introspective queries. dbt will raise an error if a model's definition requires running one. This is a dbt compile flag, which means you need to add dbt compile as a prefix. For example:dbt compile --no-introspect.