A table is a durable, partitioned collection that models change over time. It's the mutable counterpart to the immutable stream. By contrast to streams, which represent a historical sequence of events, tables represent what is true as of “now”. For example, you might model the locations that someone has lived at as a stream: first Miami, then New York, then London, and so forth. You can use a table to roll up this information and tell you where they live right now. Tables can also be used to materialize a view by incrementally aggregating a stream of events.

Tables work by leveraging the keys of each event. Keys are used to denote identity. If a sequence of events shares a key, the last event for a given key represents the most up-to-date information. Under the hood, ksqlDB uses Kafka’s notion of a compacted topic to make this work. Compaction is a process that periodically deletes all but the newest events for each key. For more information, see Log Compaction.

You can create a table from scratch or declare a table on top of an existing Apache Kafka® topic. You can supply a variety of configuration options. In either case, the table is not materialized, which limits its ability to be queried. Only tables that are derived from other collections are materialized. For more information, see Materialized Views.

Create a table from scratch

When you create a table from scratch, a backing compacted Kafka topic is created automatically. Use the CREATE TABLE statement to create a table from scratch, and give it a name, schema, and configuration options. The following statement registers a movies table on a topic named movies. Events in the movies table are distributed over 5 partitions, are keyed on the title column, and are serialized in the Avro format.

CREATE TABLE movies (title VARCHAR, release_year INT)
    WITH (kafka_topic = 'movies',
          key = 'title'
          partitions = 5,
          value_format = 'avro');

In this example, a new table named movies is created with two columns: title and release_year. ksqlDB automatically creates an underlying movies topic that you can access freely. The topic has 5 partitions, and any new events that are integrated into the table are hashed according to the value of the title column. Because Kafka can store data in a variety of formats, we let ksqlDB know that we want the value portion of each row stored in the Avro format. You can use a variety of configuration options in the final WITH clause.


If you create a table from scratch, you must supply the number of partitions.

Create a table over an existing Kafka topic

You can also create a table on top of an existing Kafka topic. Internally, ksqlDB simply registers the topic with the provided schema and doesn't create anything new.

CREATE TABLE movies (title VARCHAR, release_year INT)
    WITH (kafka_topic = 'movies',
          value_format = 'avro');

Because the topic already exists, you can't specify the number of partitions. The key shouldn't be set here either, because any data that already exists in the same topic has a given key.

If an underlying event in the Kafka topic doesn’t conform to the given table schema, the event is discarded at read-time.

Page last revised on: 2019-12-12

Last update: 2019-12-12