Transform data by running U-SQL scripts on Azure Data Lake Analytics

A pipeline in an Azure data factory processes data in linked storage services by using linked compute services. It contains a sequence of activities where each activity performs a specific processing operation. This article describes the Data Lake Analytics U-SQL Activity that runs a U-SQL script on an Azure Data Lake Analytics compute linked service.

Create an Azure Data Lake Analytics account before creating a pipeline with a Data Lake Analytics U-SQL Activity. To learn about Azure Data Lake Analytics, see Get started with Azure Data Lake Analytics.

Azure Data Lake Analytics linked service

You create an Azure Data Lake Analytics linked service to link an Azure Data Lake Analytics compute service to an Azure data factory. The Data Lake Analytics U-SQL activity in the pipeline refers to this linked service.

The following table provides descriptions for the generic properties used in the JSON definition.

Property Description Required
type The type property should be set to: AzureDataLakeAnalytics. Yes
accountName Azure Data Lake Analytics Account Name. Yes
dataLakeAnalyticsUri Azure Data Lake Analytics URI. No
subscriptionId Azure subscription ID No
resourceGroupName Azure resource group name No

Service principal authentication

The Azure Data Lake Analytics linked service requires a service principal authentication to connect to the Azure Data Lake Analytics service. To use service principal authentication, register an application entity in Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) and grant it the access to both the Data Lake Analytics and the Data Lake Store it uses. For detailed steps, see Service-to-service authentication. Make note of the following values, which you use to define the linked service:

  • Application ID
  • Application key
  • Tenant ID

Grant service principal permission to your Azure Data Lake Anatlyics using the Add User Wizard.

Use service principal authentication by specifying the following properties:

Property Description Required
servicePrincipalId Specify the application's client ID. Yes
servicePrincipalKey Specify the application's key. Yes
tenant Specify the tenant information (domain name or tenant ID) under which your application resides. You can retrieve it by hovering the mouse in the upper-right corner of the Azure portal. Yes

Example: Service principal authentication

    "name": "AzureDataLakeAnalyticsLinkedService",
    "properties": {
        "type": "AzureDataLakeAnalytics",
        "typeProperties": {
            "accountName": "<account name>",
            "dataLakeAnalyticsUri": "<azure data lake analytics URI>",
            "servicePrincipalId": "<service principal id>",
            "servicePrincipalKey": {
                "value": "<service principal key>",
                "type": "SecureString"
            "tenant": "<tenant info, e.g.>",
            "subscriptionId": "<optional, subscription id of ADLA>",
            "resourceGroupName": "<optional, resource group name of ADLA>"
        "connectVia": {
            "referenceName": "<name of Integration Runtime>",
            "type": "IntegrationRuntimeReference"

To learn more about the linked service, see Compute linked services.

Data Lake Analytics U-SQL Activity

The following JSON snippet defines a pipeline with a Data Lake Analytics U-SQL Activity. The activity definition has a reference to the Azure Data Lake Analytics linked service you created earlier. To execute a Data Lake Analytics U-SQL script, Data Factory submits the script you specified to the Data Lake Analytics, and the required inputs and outputs is defined in the script for Data Lake Analytics to fetch and output.

    "name": "ADLA U-SQL Activity",
    "description": "description",
    "type": "DataLakeAnalyticsU-SQL",
    "linkedServiceName": {
        "referenceName": "<linked service name of Azure Data Lake Analytics>",
        "type": "LinkedServiceReference"
    "typeProperties": {
        "scriptLinkedService": {
            "referenceName": "<linked service name of Azure Data Lake Store or Azure Storage which contains the U-SQL script>",
            "type": "LinkedServiceReference"
        "scriptPath": "scripts\\kona\\SearchLogProcessing.txt",
        "degreeOfParallelism": 3,
        "priority": 100,
        "parameters": {
            "in": "/datalake/input/SearchLog.tsv",
            "out": "/datalake/output/Result.tsv"

The following table describes names and descriptions of properties that are specific to this activity.

Property Description Required
name Name of the activity in the pipeline Yes
description Text describing what the activity does. No
type For Data Lake Analytics U-SQL activity, the activity type is DataLakeAnalyticsU-SQL. Yes
linkedServiceName Linked Service to Azure Data Lake Analytics. To learn about this linked service, see Compute linked services article. Yes
scriptPath Path to folder that contains the U-SQL script. Name of the file is case-sensitive. Yes
scriptLinkedService Linked service that links the Azure Data Lake Store or Azure Storage that contains the script to the data factory Yes
degreeOfParallelism The maximum number of nodes simultaneously used to run the job. No
priority Determines which jobs out of all that are queued should be selected to run first. The lower the number, the higher the priority. No
parameters Parameters to pass into the U-SQL script. No
runtimeVersion Runtime version of the U-SQL engine to use. No

Compilation mode of U-SQL. Must be one of these values: Semantic: Only perform semantic checks and necessary sanity checks, Full: Perform the full compilation, including syntax check, optimization, code generation, etc., SingleBox: Perform the full compilation, with TargetType setting to SingleBox. If you don't specify a value for this property, the server determines the optimal compilation mode.


See SearchLogProcessing.txt for the script definition.

Sample U-SQL script

@searchlog =
    EXTRACT UserId          int,
            Start           DateTime,
            Region          string,
            Query           string,
            Duration        int,
            Urls            string,
            ClickedUrls     string
    FROM @in
    USING Extractors.Tsv(nullEscape:"#NULL#");

@rs1 =
    SELECT Start, Region, Duration
    FROM @searchlog
WHERE Region == "en-gb";

@rs1 =
    SELECT Start, Region, Duration
    FROM @rs1
    WHERE Start <= DateTime.Parse("2012/02/19");

OUTPUT @rs1   
    TO @out
      USING Outputters.Tsv(quoting:false, dateTimeFormat:null);

In above script example, the input and output to the script is defined in @in and @out parameters. The values for @in and @out parameters in the U-SQL script are passed dynamically by Data Factory using the ‘parameters’ section.

You can specify other properties such as degreeOfParallelism and priority as well in your pipeline definition for the jobs that run on the Azure Data Lake Analytics service.

Dynamic parameters

In the sample pipeline definition, in and out parameters are assigned with hard-coded values.

"parameters": {
    "in": "/datalake/input/SearchLog.tsv",
    "out": "/datalake/output/Result.tsv"

It is possible to use dynamic parameters instead. For example:

"parameters": {
    "in": "/datalake/input/@{formatDateTime(pipeline().parameters.WindowStart,'yyyy/MM/dd')}/data.tsv",
    "out": "/datalake/output/@{formatDateTime(pipeline().parameters.WindowStart,'yyyy/MM/dd')}/result.tsv"

In this case, input files are still picked up from the /datalake/input folder and output files are generated in the /datalake/output folder. The file names are dynamic based on the window start time being passed in when pipeline gets triggered.

Next steps

See the following articles that explain how to transform data in other ways: