Apache Spark : Handle null timestamp while reading csv in Spark 2.0.0

Hello folks, Hope you all are doing good !!!

In this blog, I will discuss a problem which I faced some days back. One thing to keep in mind that this problem is specifically related to Spark version 2.0.0. Other than this version, this problem does not occur.

Problem : Spark code was reading CSV file. This particular CSV file had one timestamp column that might have null values as well. So when Spark tried to read the CSV, it was throwing error whenever it gets null values for the timestamp field. So I needed the solution which can handle null timestamp fields.

You can find the code snippet below :

You can see easily that the above code is inferring the schema while reading the csv file.

Solution: To solve the above problem, we need to follow the below approach:

  1. Need to provide custom schema where timestamp field must be read as String type.
  2. Then, Cast the timestamp field explicitly.

By using the above approach, we can solve the null timestamp field issue. But there is one thing to notice that we must have known already the field which is timestamp in CSV and the schema for the whole CSV file. Only then we would be able to cast that field from String to timestamp expicitly and would maintain the original schema for the file.

In my case, I am taking below CSV file : test.csv


The schema for the CSV file is as :

ID : String, PHONE : Integer, BIRTH_DT : Timestamp

The soultion code must be as follows :

import org.apache.spark.sql.SparkSession
import org.apache.spark.sql.functions.{col, unix_timestamp}
import org.apache.spark.sql.types._

object CsvReader extends App {

  val sparkSession = SparkSession.builder()

  val schema = StructType(List(
    StructField("ID", StringType),
    StructField("PHONE", IntegerType),
    StructField("BIRTH_DT", StringType)

  val df = sparkSession.read
    .option("header", "true")

  val columnName = "BIRTH_DT"
  val updatedDF = df.withColumn(columnName, unix_timestamp(col(columnName), "yyyy-MM-dd HH:mm:ss").cast("timestamp"))


That’s it. I hope this blog will be helpful to you as well.

Happy Blogging !!!


Written by 

Rishi is a Lead Consultant, with experience of more than 7 years. Rishi is product focused developer who loves developing both front-end user interfaces and scalable back-end infrastructure. He is a good team player, quick learner and a humble person. He has good time management skills, aimed to give best results and fully dedicated towards his work & responsibilities. He is able to work as individual and as well as in team. He loves to share his knowledge, therefore he often writes technical blogs.

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