Using rlwrap with Apache Hive beeline for improved readline functionality

rlwrap is a nice little wrapper in which you can invoke commandline utilities and get them to behave with full readline functionality just like you’d get at the bash prompt. For example, up/down arrow keys to move between commands, but also home/end to go to the start/finish of a line, and even ctrl-R to search through command history to rapidly find a command. It’s one of the standard config changes I’ll make to any system with Oracle’s sqlplus on, and it works just as nicely with Apache Hive’s commandline interface, beeline.

beeline comes with some of this functionality (up/down arrow) but not all (for me, it was ‘home’ and ‘end’ not working and printing 1~ and 5~ respectively instead that prompted me to setup rlwrap with it).

Installing rlwrap

To install rlwrap simply add the EPEL yum packages to your repository configuration:

sudo rpm -Uvh http://dl.fedoraproject.org/pub/epel/6/`uname -p`/epel-release-6-8.noarch.rpm

and then install rlwrap from yum:

sudo yum install -y rlwrap

Use

Once rlwrap is installed you can invoke beeline through it manually, specifying all the standard beeline options as you would normally: (I’ve used the </code> line continuation character here just to make the example nice and clear)

rlwrap -a beeline \
-u jdbc:hive2://bdanode1:10000 \
-n rmoffatt -p password \
-d org.apache.hive.jdbc.HiveDriver

Now I can connect to beeline, and as before I press up arrow to access commands from when I previously used the tool, but I can also hit ctrl-R to start typing part of a command to recall it, just like I would in bash. Some other useful shortcuts:

  • Ctrl-l - clears the screen but with the current line still shown
  • Ctrl-k - deletes to the end of the line from the current cursor position
  • Ctrl-u - deletes to the beginning of the line from the current cursor position
  • Esc-f - move forward one word
  • Esc-b - move backward one word (more here)

And most importantly, Home and End work just fine! (or, ctrl-a/ctrl-e if you prefer).

NB the -a argument for rlwrap is necessary because beeline already does some readline-esque functions, and we want rlwrap to forceable override them (otherwise neither work very well). Or more formally (from man rlwrap):

Always remain in “readline mode”, regardless of command’s terminal settings. Use this option if you want to use rlwrap with commands that already use readline.

Alias

A useful thing to do is to add an alias directly in your profile so that it is always available to launch beeline under rlwrap, in this case as the rlbeeline command:

# this sets up "rlbeeline" as the command to run beeline
# under rlwrap, you can call it what you want though. 
cat >> ~/.bashrc<<EOF
alias rlbeeline='rlwrap -a beeline'
EOF
# example usage:
# rlbeeline /
# -u jdbc:hive2://bdanode1:10000 /
# -n rmoffatt -p password /
# -d org.apache.hive.jdbc.HiveDriver

If you want this alias available for all users on a machine create the above as a standalone .sh file in /etc/profile.d/.

Autocomplete

One possible downside of using rlwrap with beeline is that you lose the native auto-complete option within beeline for the HiveQL statements. But never fear - we can have the best of both worlds, with the -f argument for rlwrap, specifying a list of custom auto-completes. So this is even a level-up for beeline, because we could populate it with our own schema objects and so on that we want auto-completed.

As a quick-start, run beeline without rlwrap, hit tab-twice and then ‘y’ to show all options and paste the resulting list into a text file (eg beeline_autocomplete.txt). Now call beeline, via rlwrap, passing that file as an argument to rlwrap:

rlwrap -a -f beeline_autocomplete.txt beeline

Once connected, use auto-complete just as you would normally (hit tab after typing a character or two of the word you’re going to match):

Connecting to jdbc:hive2://bdanode1:10000
Connected to: Apache Hive (version 0.12.0-cdh5.0.1)
[...]
Beeline version 0.12.0-cdh5.0.1 by Apache Hive
0: jdbc:hive2://bdanode1:10000> SE
SECOND        SECTION       SELECT        SERIALIZABLE  SERVER_NAME   SESSION       SESSION_USER  SET
0: jdbc:hive2://bdanode1:10000> SELECT

Conclusion

rlwrap is the tool that keeps on giving; just as I was writing this article, I noticed that it also auto-highlights opening parentheses when typing the closing one. Nice!

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