Example: Java App Engine Standard Environment

This example is an App Engine application, written in Java, that writes some "hello world" greetings to a table and reads them back. The application runs in the cloud in the App Engine [standard environment][standard-environment]. The application uses the Java 8 runtime, which is currently in beta. The code for this application is in the GitHub repository GoogleCloudPlatform/java-docs-samples, in the directory appengine-java8/bigtable.

Overview of the code sample

The code sample includes the following classes:


BigtableHelper provides a method to create a connection to Cloud Bigtable. It also caches the connection and provides a method that will retrieve the cached connection if it exists. This is because creating the connection is a relatively expensive operation.

public static void connect() throws IOException {

  if (PROJECT_ID == null || INSTANCE_ID == null) {
    if (sc != null) {
      sc.log("environment variables BIGTABLE_PROJECT, and BIGTABLE_INSTANCE need to be defined.");

  connection = BigtableConfiguration.connect(PROJECT_ID, INSTANCE_ID);

 * Get the shared connection to Cloud Bigtable.
 * @return the connection
public static Connection getConnection() {
  if (connection == null) {
    try {
    } catch (IOException e) {
      if (sc != null) {
        sc.log("connect ", e);
  if (connection == null) {
    if (sc != null) {
      sc.log("BigtableHelper-No Connection");
  return connection;


BigtableHelloWorld is used to write a series of greetings to Cloud Bigtable, then read them back and display them. The class gets a Cloud Bigtable connection from BigtableHelper; uses the connection to get a Table object, which enables you to read and write values; and uses the Table object to write to and read from the table:

 * A minimal application that connects to Cloud Bigtable using the native HBase API and performs
 * some basic operations.
public class BigtableHelloWorld {

  // Refer to table metadata names by byte array in the HBase API
  private static final byte[] TABLE_NAME = Bytes.toBytes("Hello-Bigtable");
  private static final byte[] COLUMN_FAMILY_NAME = Bytes.toBytes("cf1");
  private static final byte[] COLUMN_NAME = Bytes.toBytes("greeting");

  // Write some friendly greetings to Cloud Bigtable
  private static final String[] GREETINGS = {
    "Hello World!", "Hello Cloud Bigtable!", "Hello HBase!"

   * Create a table -- first time only.
   * @param connection to Bigtable
   * @return the status
  public static String create(Connection connection) {
    try {
      // The admin API lets us create, manage and delete tables
      Admin admin = connection.getAdmin();

      // Create a table with a single column family
      HTableDescriptor descriptor = new HTableDescriptor(TableName.valueOf(TABLE_NAME));
      descriptor.addFamily(new HColumnDescriptor(COLUMN_FAMILY_NAME));

    } catch (IOException e) {
      return "Table exists.";
    return "Create table " + Bytes.toString(TABLE_NAME);

  /** Connects to Cloud Bigtable, runs some basic operations and prints the results. */
  public static String doHelloWorld() {

    StringBuilder result = new StringBuilder();

    // Create the Bigtable connection, use try-with-resources to make sure it gets closed
    Connection connection = BigtableHelper.getConnection();
    try (Table table = connection.getTable(TableName.valueOf(TABLE_NAME))) {

      // Retrieve the table we just created so we can do some reads and writes

      // Write some rows to the table
      result.append("Write some greetings to the table<br>");
      for (int i = 0; i < GREETINGS.length; i++) {
        // Each row has a unique row key.
        // Note: This example uses sequential numeric IDs for simplicity, but
        // this can result in poor performance in a production application.
        // Since rows are stored in sorted order by key, sequential keys can
        // result in poor distribution of operations across nodes.
        // For more information about how to design a Bigtable schema for the
        // best performance, see the documentation:
        //     https://cloud.google.com/bigtable/docs/schema-design
        String rowKey = "greeting" + i;

        // Put a single row into the table. We could also pass a list of Puts to write a batch.
        Put put = new Put(Bytes.toBytes(rowKey));
        put.addColumn(COLUMN_FAMILY_NAME, COLUMN_NAME, Bytes.toBytes(GREETINGS[i]));

      // Get the first greeting by row key
      String rowKey = "greeting0";
      Result getResult = table.get(new Get(Bytes.toBytes(rowKey)));
      String greeting = Bytes.toString(getResult.getValue(COLUMN_FAMILY_NAME, COLUMN_NAME));
      result.append("Get a single greeting by row key<br>");
      result.append("     ");
      result.append("= ");

      // Now scan across all rows.
      Scan scan = new Scan();

      result.append("Scan for all greetings:");
      ResultScanner scanner = table.getScanner(scan);
      for (Result row : scanner) {
        byte[] valueBytes = row.getValue(COLUMN_FAMILY_NAME, COLUMN_NAME);
        result.append("    ");

    } catch (IOException e) {
      result.append("Exception while running HelloWorld: " + e.getMessage() + "<br>");
      return result.toString();

    return result.toString();

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