How To
Oct 18, 2023

How to Open Parquet Files as Spreadsheets

Parquet is a great file format if you’re working with large-scale data processing. 

However, opening parquet files can be a hassle, especially if you have a non-technical background. You have to use programming languages like Python, Java, and Scala or Apache data processing frameworks like Spark and Hive. Simply put, working with parquet files usually requires familiarity with specialized software and some programming experience.

But what if you want to process large datasets with the comfort and convenience of a spreadsheet? Popular spreadsheet platforms like MS-Excel, Google Sheets, Apache Office Calc, Zoho Sheet don’t support parquet files. 

But there’s a way.

In this article, we’ll discuss why reading parquet files as spreadsheets is a challenge and show you how to open parquet files as spreadsheets. 

But first…

What is the parquet file format?

Parquet is a modern storage file format for big data processing. It’s an efficient and scalable storage format where you can access data in columns—instead of the typical row-based formats like JSON and CSV. 

As a part of the Apache Hadoop ecosystem, parquet is designed to speed up processing and compression. These characteristics make it an ideal solution for data warehousing, big data analytics, schema evolution, and other use cases.

Data and metadata are split into separate files. This allows data to be split into multiple parquet files, while having a single metadata file reference multiple parquet files.

Parquet File Layout

Why you can’t open parquet files as spreadsheets

Spreadsheet platforms like MS Excel and Google Sheets don’t natively support the parquet file format. The only way to open a parquet file in Excel is to convert it into a CSV or XLSX file first. However, this leaves you at the risk of losing rich metadata!

Since parquet files follow a column-based, nested structure, the data doesn’t adapt well to Excel’s row-column format. Even if you convert this file into an Excel workbook, the dataset will inevitably get disturbed and create mismatches. This can hurt your data’s integrity and accuracy. 

If you’re using an older version of Excel, you’ll likely face compatibility issues where the file can fail to load or become corrupt. 

However, the biggest challenge with opening parquet files as spreadsheets is the memory constraints in these platforms. Excel’s limitations on the number of total rows and columns can’t handle large parquet datasets. 

These memory constraints can also lead to performance issues. Excel or Google Sheets will slow down and likely crash while operating these large files.

So, what’s the best alternative? 

Let’s talk about the easiest way to open parquet files in the form of spreadsheets. 

How to open parquet files with Gigasheet *effortlessly*

We get it. There’s nothing like sorting and navigating a dataset in a spreadsheet. It’s fast, easy, and works with your muscle memory.

If you want to learn how to open parquet files as spreadsheets, Gigasheet is a seamless solution. Two main reasons why:

  • Unlike traditional spreadsheet platforms, Gigasheet runs on a sophisticated big data infrastructure. That means it’s equipped to handle high-volume file formats like parquet, PCAP, and SQLite.
  • Gigasheet can handle up to one billion rows per sheet without crashing or slowing down. It can process all the rich metadata in parquet files while maintaining complete data integrity.

Gigasheet’s intuitive interface and an AI-powered sheet assistant to perform any function with quick prompts are just the cherry on top! 

But instead of talking on and on about the platform’s advanced capabilities, we decided to run a short experiment and demonstrate exactly why you should use Gigasheet to open parquet files. 

We first downloaded a sample 1 million row parquet dataset from Tab Lab. This dataset recorded one million flights’ arrival and departure times. It was a 12MB file. 

Dummy Parquet File

Step 1: Upload the dataset to Gigasheet 

You can sign up on Gigasheet (if you don’t have an account already) and click the New button to upload a new file. 

Uploading Parquet file to Gigasheet

We uploaded the sample dataset file from the local device. Gigasheet took under five seconds to upload this file. 

Gigasheet Uploading the Parquet File

Step 2: Wait for complete processing 

Once uploaded, Gigasheet also processed this file to convert the column-based structure into the spreadsheet format automatically. This loading bar showed the progress, which took about a minute to process fully. 

Processing Parquet File

The processing time depends entirely on the size of your file. While it took only a minute to load this 12MB file, the wait time might be longer for bigger files. 

But the good thing is that you can upload massive files to Gigasheet and receive an email notification once these files are processed. 

Processing Complete

Step 3: Read and edit your parquet file in a spreadsheet

And just like that, we successfully opened a parquet file as a spreadsheet on Gigasheet. Here’s what the data looked like—clear and easy to understand. 

Read and edit your parquet file in a spreadsheet

Gigasheet’s versatile editing capabilities make it easy to organize and dig deeper into your data. You can:

  • Group data to analyze segments 
  • Filter data using specific conditions 
  • Use the IF/THEN function to expand the data
  • Write prompts for Sheet Assistant to perform actions
  • Enrich data points using various apps or custom enrichments

You can also collaborate with your team to read and analyze parquet files collaboratively. Plus, all your files are stored on the cloud. So you can access them anywhere on the go. 

Open parquet files without a hassle!

You’re working with complex data processing tools to open parquet files. But if you want the simplicity + efficiency of spreadsheets, upload your files to Gigasheet and enjoy all the functionalities of a spreadsheet.  

You don’t have to worry about compatibility, performance, memory constraints, or data mismatch. With its quick editing features, this big data spreadsheet platform can handle complex parquet datasets and make life easy for you. Take it for a spin and see for yourself.

The ease of a spreadsheet with the power of a database, at cloud scale.

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