Release Notes 4.20.x

Release 4.20.0

New Features

  • Alation now provides a public API to interact with articles. The API provides an interface for all CRUD operations, allowing for programmatic management of articles. For further details and code samples, refer to the API documentation.

  • Users can now perform searches based on the contents of Rich Text fields, allowing users for data sources that match broader criteria. This is enabled for both quick and advanced search. Note that after upgrading, it will likely take several hours to re-index objects and see this change come into effect.

  • On Table Catalog Pages for Hive Data Sources, Alation now shows a link in Properties to the Catalog page for the Amazon S3 or HDFS file or directory that backs the Hive Table. The HDFS or S3 File System must also be cataloged in Alation for this feature to work. On HDFS and S3 File System catalog pages, Alation now shows a link in Properties to the Catalog page to the Hive Table if this file backs the Hive Table. To enable this, the alation.feature_flags.enable_hive_links feature flag must be set to True.

  • Customize Catalog now includes a new Custom Field type: Multi-Select Picker. Similar to Picker, it provides a dropdown menu to select from predefined values, but with a checklist for multiple value selection. Advanced Search allows faceting by values in these fields.

  • For users of Compose, Trust Check is now available in conjunction with Compose Previews to trust the data they’re querying. With Trust Check, flags added to the catalog are shown to the right users at the right time, so they have more impact with less effort. The data objects documented in the catalog are now brought forward in Compose through color coded highlights or underlines in the query text as you type. Users have control over the indicators in Compose. They can choose whether to get indicators for deprecations, warnings, and endorsements, or for objects without any quality flags.  In 4.20.0, this feature is behind a feature flag and can be enabled with `alation_conf alation.feature_flags.enable_semantics_check -s True`

  • Catalog sets now allow users to pick and choose specific objects (Datasource, Database Catalog, Schema, Table, Column) through the “Manual” set tab (accessible through Admin -> Catalog Sets). This is helpful when simple conditional rules can’t express the group. In addition, users now have the ability to sync fields (title/description, custom fields, flags and tags) across the children of the manual set members. Once the manual set is created, the fields that have to be synced can fully be customized through the “Sync Children” tab on the catalog set page. This is useful when there are duplicate items (with the same name) across different schemas or datasources and fields would normally have to be copied manually to the duplicates. When syncing is enabled for the first time or the sync settings are modified, the metadata is copied from the children in the order of how their parents were added in the set. Metadata is synced across the children when one of the children is modified (through catalog UI / API / data dictionary upload). More details on how syncing works is present on the “Sync Children” tab. With Manual Catalog Sets enabled, Object Equivalence feature is deprecated, as Manual Catalog Sets support synchronization of tags, flags, and custom fields, in addition to title and description. Existing Schema Equivalences defined on the Object Equivalence tab in Admin Settings have been migrated to Schema Manual Catalog Sets with children syncing (for tables and columns) on title and description. Object Equivalence can still be used when Manual Catalog Sets is disables. As Object Equivalence is a deprecated feature, it will be removed from Alation in the near future. The new catalog set features can be enabled by `alation_conf alation.feature_flags.enable_cognates -s True`. Any user can create/view manual sets but field synchronization settings can be enabled/modified only by admins.


  • For users using the “governance officer hat”, the Governance Tracking Dashboard is now populated by default. This was previously behind a configuration flag, obscuring the feature. Every 6 hours a new data point will be added.

  • There is now an option on the Notification tab of the User accounts page to opt out of all notifications at once. In addition, an option has been added to opt out of License warnings. These reduce the amount of noise a user will have to filter through in a given day.

  • For users of the Report Sources API, the API now allows filtering of datatables and report objects by ID. For example, GET /catalog/reportobject?id=1 will return the report object with an ID of 1, where previously a user could only get All objects. This should simplify any scripts that use this API, as well as reduce network load from the Alation server.

  • After Data Profiling, empty tables are no longer reported as permission errors, instead saying “No rows at time of last sample”.

Bug Fixes

  • Fixed a bug introduced in 4.18 which made the “Open With” menu appear on schema, table, and column pages even if there were no applications available in the menu. Now the “Open With” menu only appears if there are available applications.

  • A bug has been fixed where arbitrary users could attempt to edit the title of a query on the Query Catalog page. For any user that did not author the query, the edit button is now disabled and a tooltip is displayed explaining why.

  • Fixed a bug where using keyboard navigation to select object types in LHN Search Box, @-mentions, and Object Set Fields selected the wrong object type

  • Fixed a bug where flags weren’t loading correctly for ExpressionTemplate and Predicate catalog pages.

  • Resolved an issue that would occur when a data source had Obfuscate Literals enabled. A user viewing an obfuscated Compose query would see the query as a single line with most whitespace removed and literals were replaced with “<var1>”. Whitespace is no longer trimmed and running the resulting query now prompts the user with a query form instead of failing.

  • Fixed a bug on Schema, Table, and Column Catalog pages in IE10 where it was not possible to click the edit button for the title if there was also a title added by a Catalog Set. Now it is possible to click the edit button and edit the title.

  • Untitled items would occasionally display incorrect titles in the Catalog Browser. Now items correctly display their Untitled status.

  • The notification setting for mentions in an article or conversation (on the user account settings page) now correctly prevents notifications from being sent when the option is turned off.

  • Fixed a bug for Curator Users where the ‘Track’ dropdown would not properly display menu options until the user hovered over the dropdown.

  • On the Data Source settings page, clicking the white space surrounding a checkbox will no longer activate that checkbox.

  • Fixed an issue where Compose was attempting to extract metadata for Teradata Temp tables. This was causing frequent error warnings to show up for Teradata users. Now Compose avoids attempting to extract metadata for newly created temp tables in Teradata using the keyword “set” or “multiset”, whether “volatile” or “global temporary”.

  • For MicroStrategy users, previews of Microstrategy dashboards are no longer cropped, and the aspect ratio is now the same as the actual dashboard, allowing for more accurate visual identification of a dashboard without needing to click in and confirm.

  • Fixed a bug introduced in 4.18 where the Catalog page for a Tableau Server would sometimes fail to render.

  • Fixed a bug where changes to column headings on the Glossary page would revert after reloading the page. Changes will now persist as they should.

  • The public API to upload a preview image to a BI report will now return an error message if the report doesn’t exist. Previously it would just appear to be “running” forever and not complete.

  • Fixed a bug where Alation would display an incorrect table count for a schema with a single quote in the name.

  • Fixed a bug on the Execution Result and Article pages where a user who requested access might see a loading indicator that would never finish. This occurred if there was an error sending the email. The UI now informs the user of any errors.

  • In Custom Templates, “Attribute custom templates” has been renamed to “Column custom templates” to match with the vernacular of the rest of the product.

Admin Release Notes

New Features

  • Admin can now toggle feature flags on/off via a new feature flag admin page, reducing the need to use the alation shell. Changing flags will cause all users’ pages to reload

  • Alation can now collect query logs for PostgreSQL data sources. Admins can configure Query Log Ingestion through CSV Logs (by default) or Audit Logs in the Data Source Settings page. Features such as Popularity, Top Users, Joins, Filters, and Lineage are driven by this data. For PostgreSQL data sources, Alation previously took into account only queries run in Compose. Now Alation can take advantage of query logs for a more comprehensive picture of usage.

  • Alation now supports Metadata Extraction from Salesforce Einstein Analytics. This can be configured by following the steps in the Add New BI Server page in Admin Settings. Due to limitations of the Salesforce APIs, Lineage is only available to datasets, and is unavailable between datasource and datatable. This feature is enabled by alation_conf Set the generic bi flag (if not already set) alation_conf alation.feature_flags.enable_generic_bi -s True Set the salesforce flag alation_conf alation.feature_flags.enable_salesforce_bi -s True

  • Alation now supports Metadata Extraction from Salesforce DB as a datasource, further expanding the array of datasources accessible through Alation. SObjects are extracted as tables, using Fields as columns. These are all extracted under one schema, “sobjects,” and schema filtering has been disabled as a result. Also note that Compose, Sampling, and Usage data are disabled. Admin users can enable this feature through the UI by going to Settings > Admin Settings > Labs -> and toggling “Enable SFDC Database Type”

  • Alation now supports Metadata Extraction from IBM Cognos as a BI Server. In Admin Setting, Add New Bi Server, register a Business Intelligence Server IBM cognos Limitation: Usage stats are currently only supported when Cognos is configured to use Oracle or SQL Server database types to store usage This feature is enabled by alation_conf Set the generic bi flag alation_conf alation.feature_flags.enable_generic_bi -s True Set the cognos flag alation_conf alation.feature_flags.enable_cognos -s True

  • Alation now supports Azure SQL Datawarehouse as a data source In Settings, Add a new data source and choose Azure SQL DW as the Dbtype. This feature is enabled by toggling the following Labs Setting: Settings -> Admin Settings -> Labs -> Enable Azure SQL Data Warehouse Database Type

  • Support for Execution Engines has been improved. The Add Datasource wizard now allows adding “Presto” as a multi-catalog datasource. The previous support as a single Hive Catalog is supported through the datasource type “Presto on Hive”. Existing Presto datasources will continue to work as a Presto on Hive single catalog data sources. This feature is enabled through a Labs Setting Settings -> Admin Settings -> Labs -> Enable Presto Database Type with multiple catalogs


  • NTP configuration is no longer a required part of the installation process for Alation.

  • Adding an initial Data Source is no longer a required part of the installation process for Alation.

  • Administrators can no longer configure Alation to authenticate with LDAP or SAML from the install wizard. This needs special setup and should be completed from the Authentication panel under Admin Settings after initial install completes.

  • The Deployment Command Center has been reorganized. There are now tabs for Datasources, Filesystems and BI Servers, which allow for quicker navigation to specific sources.

  • For Microstrategy users, with BI sources from before 4.16: There is now a process to copy Logical Metadata (titles, descriptions, etc.) into a new BI Server object, bringing these objects in line with any future BI servers. For details, see [zendesk link]

  • When cataloging a Microstrategy Server, Alation specifically looks for the “Public Folders” and “Reports” folders. These names can be customized on the settings page to match the names on the microstrategy server. This feature is available only when feature flag enable_generic_bi is set to True.

  • In Metadata Extraction settings for MicroStrategy and Cognos (speak to your Alation contact about enabling these features), admins will now find a “Selective Extraction” field where they may either include or exclude certain projects.

  • The File Systems Extraction Job History table is now paginated, reducing page load times for devices that see hundreds of Extraction Jobs.

  • For Hive + Kerberos users, When adding a Hive datasource, checking the “Use Kerberos” box now displays a text field to add your Hive Principal. This streamlines setup, as users previously had to either edit the URI after setup, or provide the entire JDBC URI at setup.

Bug Fixes

  • Fixed a bug where Hive QLI did not support root HDFS path “/” to be set as the Log path from the QLI Settings page. Now, “/” value for HDFS path value will be correctly processed.

  • HDFS Extraction is now more robust to Errors encountered during Extraction.

  • Fixed a bug introduced in 4.18.1 where Oracle Query Log Ingestion failed with error: “ORA-01843: not a valid month”. Now Oracle Query Log Ingestion succeeds.

  • Addressed behavior introduced in 4.6.0 where Metadata Extraction for Greenplum and Postgres databases would omit tables which had a comment (in the source database) on one of their columns but no comment on the table itself. These tables are no longer skipped.

  • Fixed a bug where MicroStrategy extraction would fail if “Public Folders” and “Reports” objects are hidden (usually because shortcuts are exposed for them instead). Now Alation successfully extracts metadata for reports in those folders even when they’re hidden.

  • For Tableau users, a bug was fixed where Tableau lineage could not always be established for dashboards with custom SQL. If the SQL contained ‘<’ or ‘>’ characters, they were escaped by Tableau in a way that could interfere with the Alation parsing, and prevent Alation from establishing a lineage connection to the tables mentioned in the query. Alation can now properly parse those queries and establish lineage.

  • Fixed a bug where Hive QLI did not support root HDFS path “/” to be set as the MR Folder HDFS Path from the QLI Settings page.

  • For SQL Server users with that choose to use XEvents for Query Log ingestion, there is no longer a prompt to define a table for query logs. This was a source of confusion and irrelevant work, as a user would have to define a table that the service account has access to.

  • Fixed a bug where Metadata Extraction would not complete if it received certain exceptions from Hive while requesting metadata about a schema. Now Metadata Extraction skips the schema and continues.

  • Fixed a bug where system schemas were being included in the catalog by default for the Sybase data source. Now system schemas in Sybase are excluded from metadata extraction by default. If system schemas are showing in your catalog from a previous extraction, you can clear them out by re-running metadata extraction after checking the checkbox for “Remove schemas from the catalog that are not captured by the lists below.”

  • For users of Virtual Data Sources, the error reporting of the Metadata API has been improved. When a parsing failure occurs, the line number that caused the error is now reported.

  • Fixed a bug where Query Log Ingestion for Presto would fail if all the tables in a query were fully qualified (in this case, the log would omit the “schema” field). Now Query Log Ingestion should successfully parse those queries.

  • Fixed a bug where metadata extraction was slow and sometimes failed on Oracle schemas using certain features such as Packages or Types. Now Alation metadata extraction for those schemas is faster and more robust.

  • Fixed a bug during Metadata Extraction on Hive where a certain kind of failure to connect to the Thrift service would show an unintelligible error message. Now the error message clearly indicates that the thrift service could not be reached.

  • Fixed a bug where a Conversations sidebar would be nonsensically displayed on the Tableau Server Settings page. The sidebar is no longer displayed.

Release 4.20.1

Bug Fixes

  • Resolved an issue introduced in 4.20.0 where Compose scheduled queries at monthly, weekly, or daily intervals would fail to execute with an error about being outside the delay tolerance (could be addressed by lengthening the delay tolerance).  These schedules now work with the standard delay tolerance.

  • Resolved an issue where Compose results would sometimes not render until the user switched tabs and switched back.

  • Resolved an issue where Compose SmartSuggest would not return a full list of matching objects when the data source has objects with uppercase characters in the name.  SmartSuggest should now show up to 10 matching items, regardless of case.

  • Resolved an issue where Compose SmartSuggest did not suggest tables in order of popularity.  Now SmartSuggest should suggest the most popular tables first.

Admin Release Notes


  • Further improvements to Snowflake support.  Alation now supports metadata extraction, sampling, and Compose access for Snowflake Data Warehouse.  Query Log Ingestion is not yet supported.

  • Alation now supports nonstandard system home directory and shell for UNIX accounts used by Alation on the server.