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ETL Using Python: Exploring the Pros vs. Cons

March 20th, 2024

Are you looking to automate and streamline your data integration process? ETL (extract, transform, and load) collects data from various sources, applies business rules and transformations, and loads the data into a destination system. Today, you will learn how to build ETL pipelines using Python – a popular and versatile programming language.

Is It Possible to Build ETL Using Python?

Yes! Python has a rich set of libraries and frameworks that can handle different aspects of the ETL process, such as data extraction, manipulation, processing, and loading.

Python makes it easy to create ETL pipelines that manage and transform data based on business requirements.

There are several ETL tools written in Python that leverage Python libraries for extracting, loading and transforming diverse data tables imported from multiple data sources into data warehouses. Python ETL tools are fast, reliable, and deliver high performance.

Some top tools that build ETL using Python are:

Advantages of Configuring ETL Using Python

Easy to Learn

Python has a simple and consistent syntax that makes writing and understanding ETL code easy. Python also has a REPL (read-eval-print loop) that allows interactive ETL code testing and debugging.

Moreover, Python has a “batteries included” philosophy that provides built-in modules and functions for everyday ETL tasks, such as data extraction, manipulation, processing, and loading.

For instance, you can use the CSV module to read and write CSV files, the JSON module to handle JSON data, the SQLite3 module to connect to SQLite databases, and the urllib module to access web resources. Therefore, if you are looking for a simple way to build data pipelines, configuring ETL using Python might be a good choice.


Python has a flexible and dynamic typing system allows ETL developers to work with different data sources and formats, such as CSV, JSON, SQL, and XML.

Python supports multiple paradigms and styles of programming, such as object-oriented, functional, and procedural, that enable ETL developers to choose the best approach for their ETL logic and design.

Python also has a modular and scalable structure that allows ETL developers to organize their ETL code into reusable and maintainable components, such as functions, classes, and modules.

For instance, you can use the Pandas library to create and manipulate DataFrames, the NumPy library to perform numerical computations, the SciPy library to apply scientific and statistical functions, and the Matplotlib library to generate and display data visualizations. Therefore, if you are looking for a flexible and adaptable way to build data pipelines, ETL using Python is the way to go.


Python has a robust and diverse set of third-party libraries and frameworks that can handle different aspects of the ETL process, such as data extraction, transformation, loading, and workflow management. Some standard Python tools and frameworks for ETL are Pandas, Beautiful Soup, Odo, Airflow, Luigi, and Bonobo.

These tools and frameworks provide features and functionalities that can enhance the performance and efficiency of the ETL process, such as data cleaning, data aggregation, data merging, data analysis, data visualization, web scraping, data movement, workflow management, scheduling, logging, and monitoring.

For instance, you can use the Beautiful Soup library to extract data from HTML and XML documents, the Odo library to move data between different formats and sources, the Airflow framework to create and run ETL pipelines, the Luigi framework to build complex data pipelines, and the Bonobo framework to build ETL pipelines using a functional programming approach.

Drawbacks of Configuring ETL Using Python


Python is an interpreted language that runs slower than compiled languages, such as C or Java. Python also has a global interpreter lock (GIL) that prevents multiple threads from executing Python code simultaneously, limiting the concurrency and parallelism of the ETL process.

Python also has a high memory consumption and garbage collection overhead, which can affect the scalability and stability of the ETL process. Therefore, if you are dealing with large and complex data sets, configuring ETL using Python may affect your system’s performance.


Python has multiple versions and implementations, such as Python 2 and 3 or CPython and PyPy, which can cause compatibility issues and inconsistencies in the ETL code and environment.

Python also has a dependency management system that can be complex and cumbersome to manage, especially when dealing with multiple libraries and frameworks for ETL.

Moreover, Python lacks standardization and documentation for some ETL tools and frameworks, making learning and using them challenging. For instance, there are many different ways to connect to a database using Python, such as psycopg2, SQLalchemy, pyodbc, and cx_Oracle, but each has syntax, features, and limitations. Therefore, building ETL pipelines using Python can be difficult when you’re working with different data sources and formats.


Configuring ETL using Python is complex and challenging to design, develop, and debug, especially when you’re dealing with large and diverse data sources and formats, such as CSV, JSON, SQL, and XML. Python ETL developers need to have a good understanding of the data sources, the business logic, and the data transformations, as well as the Python libraries and frameworks that can handle them. Python ETL developers also need to write many custom codes and scripts to connect, extract, transform, and load data, which can be prone to errors and bugs.

For instance, if you want to extract data from a web page using Python, you may have to use a library like Beautiful Soup to parse the HTML, a library like Requests to make HTTP requests and a library like LXML to handle XML data. Therefore, you might have to spend a lot of time and effort configuring ETL using Python and debugging data pipelines.


Maintaining and updating ETL using Python can be difficult and costly to, especially when the data sources, the business requirements, or the destination systems change. Python ETL developers must constantly monitor and test the ETL pipelines, handle errors and exceptions, log and track the ETL process, and optimize the ETL performance.

Python ETL developers also need to ensure the quality and accuracy of the data, as well as the security and compliance of the data transfer. For instance, if you want to load data into a data warehouse using Python, you may have to use a library like sqlalchemy to create and manage the database schema, a library like Pandas to manipulate and validate the data, and a library like pyodbc to execute the SQL queries. Therefore, you may have a messy and unreliable ETL pipeline that can compromise your data quality and integrity if you are not careful and diligent.


As your data increases in volume and variety, Python code can increase in length and complexity, making it harder to maintain. Building ETL using Python can also be challenging with large and complex data sets, as it can exhaust the memory or have long execution times.

To improve the scalability and efficiency of the ETL, users can leverage distributed computing frameworks, such as Spark or Hadoop, which can utilize multiple nodes and parallel processing to handle large and complex data sets.

However, integrating Python with these frameworks can also pose challenges, as it can require additional configuration and coding, increasing the ETL’s complexity and overhead.

ETL Using Python vs. Astera

Aspect Astera Python
Data Integration Supports various data sources and destinations with ease. Supports multiple data types and formats but requires additional libraries for different sources.
Data Quality Provides advanced data profiling and quality rules. Lacks built-in quality framework, requiring external libraries for checks and validations.
Data Transformations Supports visual design for data transformations and mappings. Requires coding for transformations, potentially slower iterations.
Data Governance Offers a robust governance framework for compliance. Lacks built-in governance, necessitating external libraries for encryption and security.
Customizability Offers a code-free interface for ETL pipeline design. Provides a versatile language for custom logic but requires extensive coding.
Performance Utilizes parallel processing for efficient handling. Slower due to interpretation, limited concurrency, and high memory consumption.
Maintenance Provides a visual interface for debugging and optimizing. Requires constant monitoring, error handling, and performance optimization.
Complexity Simplifies ETL pipeline management with intuitive UI. Demands extensive coding and rigorous maintenance processes.
Scalability Accelerates reading large datasets from databases and files by partitioning data, breaking tables into chunks, and reading them simultaneously High memory consumption and complex dependency management hinder scalability.
Security Offers advanced security features compliant with industry standards. Relies on external libraries for security and may lack compliance with specific regulations.
Cost Savings Significant long-term cost savings The need for skilled, high-end developers and ongoing maintenance offsets lower upfront costs.
Self-Regulating Pipelines Provides features for automated monitoring, alerts, and triggers. Requires custom implementation for automated pipelines.
Workflow Automation Offers built-in workflow orchestration and scheduling features. Relies on external libraries or frameworks for workflow automation.
Time to Market Rapid development with intuitive UI and pre-built connectors. Longer development time due to coding and integration requirements.

How Astera Streamlines ETL

Python and Astera are powerful and popular tools, but Astera has some clear advantages and benefits over Python that you should know about.

Astera is a no-code ETL platform that lets you create, monitor, and manage data pipelines without writing code. It has a graphical user interface, making it easy to drag and drop various components, such as data sources, destinations, transformations, and workflows, to build and execute ETL pipelines.

You can also see the data flow and the results in real time, which helps you validate and troubleshoot your ETL logic. Astera supports various data types and formats, such as CSV, JSON, databases, XML, unstructured documents and can integrate with multiple systems and platforms, such as databases, data warehouses, data lakes, cloud services, and APIs.

Astera further improves ETL performance thanks to parallel processing. Astera supports parallel and distributed processing, which can leverage the power of multiple cores and nodes to handle large data processing tasks. Likewise, Astera offer low memory consumption and an intelligent caching mechanism, which can improve scalability and stability.

Moreover, Astera has a standardized and documented platform that can make it easy to learn and use effectively. Astera ETL pipelines can also be simple and easy to design, develop, and debug, especially when dealing with large and diverse data sources and formats, such as CSV, JSON, SQL, and XML. You don’t have to write complex, lengthy code or scripts to transform and load your data. You can use the built-in components and functions Astera provides or create custom ones if necessary.

You can easily reuse and share your ETL pipelines across different projects and teams, increasing productivity and collaboration.

Ready to experience the power and potential of no-code ETL tools like Astera for your data integration projects? If so, you can take the next step and request a free 14-day trial or schedule a custom demo today.

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