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A view (as opposed to a table) is a defined passthrough SQL query that can be run against a database (or data warehouse). A view doesn’t store data, like a table does, but it defines the logic that you need to fetch the underlying data.

For example, you might define a SQL view to count new users in a day:

count(distinct(user_id)) as new_users
from users
group by created_date

But this SQL might get tedious to write over and over again, so instead you could define it as a view called new_users, and instead query select * from new_users.

When that new_users query runs, the underlying view compiles and runs against the database.

Tips on using views

A healthy relationship with views is built on expectations.

You shouldn’t expect a view in itself to be your final destination in terms of data modeling (they’re slow + often more costly to query than tables, not great for connecting to a downstream process like reporting), but you should trust them to get you from point A to point B.

Further reading