Enhancing Data Processing Workflows with Chained Materialized Views in ClickHouse

Chaining materialized views in ClickHouse is a powerful feature that can significantly enhance data processing workflows by creating layers of data transformation and aggregation. This technique involves creating a series of materialized views where each view is based on another, effectively forming a processing pipeline. Here’s an overview of how chaining materialized views works in ClickHouse and some strategies for implementing this effectively:

Understanding Chaining Materialized Views

  1. Basic Concept:
    • In ClickHouse, a materialized view stores data transformed from a select query against a table or another view. By chaining these views, you can perform sequential data transformations or aggregations where the output of one materialized view becomes the input for the next.
  2. Operational Mechanism:
    • When data is inserted into the original table, the first materialized view in the chain triggers its transformation or aggregation, storing the results. Each subsequent materialized view then triggers based on the data from the previous view, creating a cascade of updates.

Benefits of Chaining Materialized Views

  • Complex Data Aggregation: Allows for the creation of complex aggregation layers, where each layer refines or aggregates the data further, which is ideal for preparing data in stages for analytical reporting.
  • Performance Optimization: Reduces the load on the primary database by distributing the data processing across multiple steps, thus optimizing the performance of each query involved.
  • Decoupled Processing: Each view can be updated independently, allowing for more manageable maintenance and updates without impacting the entire chain.

Implementation Strategies

  1. Designing the Chain:
    • Plan the Data Flow: Clearly define the purpose of each view in the chain. Consider what transformations or aggregations are necessary at each step and how they contribute to the final data model.
    • Optimize for Query Efficiency: Ensure that each view in the chain handles only the necessary transformations to maintain efficiency. Avoid redundant calculations across views.
  2. Creating Materialized Views:
    • Syntax for Chaining: When creating a materialized view that chains from another, use the TO clause to specify the target table or the next view. For example:
      CREATE MATERIALIZED VIEW view_level_1 TO view_level_2 AS SELECT * FROM original_table WHERE condition;
    • Populate Initial Data: If the chain starts with existing data, populate the first materialized view using a suitable query, which will cascade through the rest of the views.
  3. Monitoring and Maintenance:
    • Refresh Mechanisms: Depending on the need for real-time updates, consider the refresh strategy for each view. Some views might require more frequent updates than others.
    • Check Dependencies: Regularly check the dependencies between the views to ensure that changes in one view do not adversely affect the others in the chain.

Use Cases

  • Time-Series Analysis: For time-series data, each view could aggregate data over increasing time intervals, e.g., from minutes to hours to days.
  • Multi-Level Summaries: In retail analytics, one view could summarize daily sales data, another could aggregate this into monthly summaries, and a third could provide quarterly insights.


Chaining materialized views in ClickHouse allows for efficient, layered data processing and can be particularly useful in scenarios where data needs to be progressively aggregated or transformed. This approach leverages ClickHouse’s powerful query capabilities and the inherent efficiencies of its columnar storage architecture to deliver high-performance data analytics.

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About Shiv Iyer 222 Articles
Open Source Database Systems Engineer with a deep understanding of Optimizer Internals, Performance Engineering, Scalability and Data SRE. Shiv currently is the Founder, Investor, Board Member and CEO of multiple Database Systems Infrastructure Operations companies in the Transaction Processing Computing and ColumnStores ecosystem. He is also a frequent speaker in open source software conferences globally.