Quick Start to Apache Drill Project

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4 min read

Apache Drill is coming together rapidly. Lots of progress is being made on multiple fronts as different groups start digging in and as the Apache infrastructure is fleshed out. The progress falls into several categories including community building, coding and logistics.

Community As far as community is concerned, participation in this project continues to grow. There have been many user group meetings, and the mailing list and Meetups have attracted a lot of participants very quickly. The Drill development mailing list now has over 200 subscribers and more than 200 people have signed up for the Bay Area Drill Users’ Group on Meetup. In terms of actual participation, over 100 people attended first Drill Users’ Group meeting. People work in Apache projects as individuals, but their employers often determine what sorts of things they can work on so it is notable that Drill has attracted active participation from a number of companies that are key in this space.

Interest is also not limited to just the San Francisco bay area. There have been Meetups on both US coasts as well as in the middle of the US and in Europe. Strong online participation is coming from south and east Asia countries as well.

One of the most exciting community developments is that the Open Dremel project has decided to join and throw in their lot with the Apache Drill project.

As far as coding is concerned, there has been a different kind of explosion as well. Even before we had the revision control system fully up, we already had contributions coming in - Michael Hausenblas had written a web front-end and the Open Dremel group had a Dremel compatible parser to contribute. More recently, a collaborative effort has resulted in a first cut at the specifications for the physical plan intermediate language and a reference interpreter for that language. This is key because one of the main tenets of Drill is to make components as interchangeable as possible. To do this will require that we have solid specifications of intermediate representations. As the physical plan language becomes viable, the parser team can start generating plans in a compatible form.

This early progress has been fast enough that I anticipate we will have a working “hello world” version of Drill very soon and we may even see a usable release in a couple of months.

Joining In
It may look like the current contributors have everything all sorted and in well in hand, but there is still lots of room to contribute. Drill is turning out to be a really welcoming community so you shouldn’t hesitate to check it out. The first and easiest step if you are interested in Drill is to subscribe to the mailing list by sending email to


Once on the mailing list, you can start filing bug reports (or enhancement requests) by going to


You can also check out the source code (more is coming very soon) by following the directions on the Drill project web site at


Contributions can be in the form of kibitzing on the mailing list, writing documentation, helping with the specification documents or even writing or improving code. Whatever you do, we can use it.

This blog post was published October 19, 2012.

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