Bigtable: Qwik Start - Command Line

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Bigtable: Qwik Start - Command Line

30 minutes 1 Credit


Google Cloud Self-Paced Labs

Cloud Bigtable is Google's NoSQL Big Data database service. It's the same database that powers many core Google services, including Search, Analytics, Maps, and Gmail. Bigtable is designed to handle massive workloads at consistent low latency and high throughput, so it's a great choice for both operational and analytical applications, including IoT, user analytics, and financial data analysis.

In this lab you'll learn how to use the cbt command line to connect to a Cloud Bigtable instance, perform basic administrative tasks, and read and write data in a table.

Setup and Requirements

Qwiklabs setup

Before you click the Start Lab button

Read these instructions. Labs are timed and you cannot pause them. The timer, which starts when you click Start Lab, shows how long Google Cloud resources will be made available to you.

This hands-on lab lets you do the lab activities yourself in a real cloud environment, not in a simulation or demo environment. It does so by giving you new, temporary credentials that you use to sign in and access Google Cloud for the duration of the lab.

What you need

To complete this lab, you need:

  • Access to a standard internet browser (Chrome browser recommended).
  • Time to complete the lab.

Note: If you already have your own personal Google Cloud account or project, do not use it for this lab.

Note: If you are using a Chrome OS device, open an Incognito window to run this lab.

Cloud Console

How to start your lab and sign in to the Google Cloud Console

  1. Click the Start Lab button. If you need to pay for the lab, a pop-up opens for you to select your payment method. On the left is a panel populated with the temporary credentials that you must use for this lab.

    Open Google Console

  2. Copy the username, and then click Open Google Console. The lab spins up resources, and then opens another tab that shows the Sign in page.

    Sign in

    Tip: Open the tabs in separate windows, side-by-side.

  3. In the Sign in page, paste the username that you copied from the left panel. Then copy and paste the password.

    Important: You must use the credentials from the left panel. Do not use your Google Cloud Training credentials. If you have your own Google Cloud account, do not use it for this lab (avoids incurring charges).

  4. Click through the subsequent pages:

    • Accept the terms and conditions.
    • Do not add recovery options or two-factor authentication (because this is a temporary account).
    • Do not sign up for free trials.

After a few moments, the Cloud Console opens in this tab.

Cloud Shell

Activate Cloud Shell

Cloud Shell is a virtual machine that is loaded with development tools. It offers a persistent 5GB home directory and runs on the Google Cloud. Cloud Shell provides command-line access to your Google Cloud resources.

In the Cloud Console, in the top right toolbar, click the Activate Cloud Shell button.

Cloud Shell icon

Click Continue.


It takes a few moments to provision and connect to the environment. When you are connected, you are already authenticated, and the project is set to your PROJECT_ID. For example:

Cloud Shell Terminal

gcloud is the command-line tool for Google Cloud. It comes pre-installed on Cloud Shell and supports tab-completion.

You can list the active account name with this command:

gcloud auth list


Credentialed accounts: - <myaccount>@<mydomain>.com (active)

(Example output)

Credentialed accounts: -

You can list the project ID with this command:

gcloud config list project


[core] project = <project_ID>

(Example output)

[core] project = qwiklabs-gcp-44776a13dea667a6

Create a Cloud Bigtable instance

In the Cloud Console, go to Navigation menu menu, click on Bigtable in the Databases section, then click Create instance.

Fill in the fields for your instance as follows:

Field Value
Instance name: quickstart-instance
Instance ID: quickstart-instance
Storage type: SSD
Cluster ID: quickstart-instance-c1
Region: us-east1
Zone: us-east1-c

bigtable_instance_1.png bigtable_instance_2.png bigtable_instance_3.png Click Create to create the instance.

Connect to your instance

In Cloud Shell, configure cbt to use your project and instance by modifying the .cbtrc file:

echo project = `gcloud config get-value project` > ~/.cbtrc echo instance = quickstart-instance >> ~/.cbtrc

Now you're ready to use the cbt command.

Click Check my progress to verify the objective.

Create a Cloud BigTable instance

Read and Write Data

Cloud Bigtable stores data in tables, which contain rows. Each row is identified by a row key.

Data in a row is organized into column families, or groups of columns. A column qualifier identifies a single column within a column family.

A cell is the intersection of a row and a column. Each cell can contain multiple versions of a value.

Create a table named my-table.

cbt createtable my-table

List your tables:

cbt ls

The command displays output similar to the following:


Add one column family named cf1:

cbt createfamily my-table cf1

List your column families:

cbt ls my-table

The command displays output similar to the following:

Family Name GC Policy ----------- --------- cf1 <never>

Click Check my progress to verify the objective.

Create a table

Put the value test-value in the row r1, using the column family cf1 and the column qualifier c1:

cbt set my-table r1 cf1:c1=test-value

Use the cbt read command to read the data you added to the table:

cbt read my-table

The shell displays output similar to the following:

---------------------------------------- r1 cf1:c1 @ 2016/10/31-15:05:38.840000 "test-value"

Delete the table my-table:

cbt deletetable my-table

Click Check my progress to verify the objective.

Delete the table

You have now used the cbt command line to access Bigtable.


Next Steps / Learn More

This lab is part of a series of labs called Qwik Starts. These labs are designed to give you a little taste of the many features available with Google Cloud. Search for "Qwik Starts" in the lab catalog to find the next lab you'd like to take!

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Manual Last Updated June 22, 2021
Lab Last Tested June 22, 2021

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