announcement Cloud Bigtable now supports replication, currently in beta! We're gradually rolling out replication enhancements to the GCP Console, and you'll see them by Wednesday, May 2.

Using the Cloud Bigtable Emulator

The Cloud SDK provides a local, in-memory emulator for Cloud Bigtable, which you can use to test your application. Since the emulator stores data only in memory, it will not persist data across runs. Thus, it is intended for getting familiar with the Cloud Bigtable API during local development and testing scenarios, and not for production deployments.

You can use the emulator with the HBase client for Java, Go client, or Python client.

The emulator does not provide administrative APIs to create or manage instances and clusters. After the emulator starts up, you can connect to it using any project and instance name to create tables and read or write data.

Installing the emulator

To install the Cloud Bigtable emulator:

  1. Install the Cloud SDK.

  2. Update your gcloud command-line tool installation to get the latest features:

    gcloud components update beta
  3. Run the following command to start the emulator:

    gcloud beta emulators bigtable start

    If the emulator is not installed already, you will be prompted to download and install the binary for the emulator.

  4. Type Control-C to stop the emulator.

Using the emulator

To use the Cloud Bigtable emulator:

  1. Run the following command to start the Cloud Bigtable emulator:

    gcloud beta emulators bigtable start

    The emulator prints the host and port number where it is running.

  2. Connect your application to the emulator. This causes the application to run in the emulator, with no further action required.

    In the environment for your application, set the BIGTABLE_EMULATOR_HOST environment variable to the host and port where the Cloud Bigtable emulator is running (for example,

    If you are running the emulator on the same machine as your application, you can use the following command to set this environment variable automatically:

    $(gcloud beta emulators bigtable env-init)
  3. When you are done using the emulator, type Control-C to stop the emulator.


The following table shows which filters are currently supported.

Supported Supported, with limitations Not supported
  1. Regular expressions must contain only valid UTF-8 characters, unlike the actual Cloud Bigtable service which can process regular expressions as arbitrary bytes.
row_key_regex 1
column_qualifier_regex 1
value_regex 1

Issues related to Cloud Bigtable emulator development are tracked in the google-cloud-go GitHub repository, where you can file feature requests or comment on existing requests.

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Cloud Bigtable Documentation