Urban Airship to Google Data Studio

This page provides you with instructions on how to extract data from Urban Airship and analyze it in Google Data Studio. (If the mechanics of extracting data from Urban Airship seem too complex or difficult to maintain, check out Stitch, which can do all the heavy lifting for you in just a few clicks.)

What is Urban Airship?

Urban Airship is a cloud-based mobile marketing platform that aims to improve customer engagement.

Getting data out of Urban Airship

Urban Airship offers a REST API that lets you access data stored in the system. The API exposes 16 endpoints, including channels, segments, and schedules. To get information about static lists, for example, you could call GET /api/lists with an optional type parameter, in which you can specify user, lifecycle, or all lists.

Sample Urban Airship data

The Urban Airship API returns data in JSON format. For example, the results of a call to retrieve lists might look like this.

{
   "ok" : true,
   "lists" : [
      {
         "name" : "platinum_members",
         "description" : "loyalty program platinum members",
         "extra" : { "key" : "value" },
         "created" : "2017-08-08T20:41:06",
         "last_modified" : "2017-11-01T18:00:27",
         "channel_count": 3145,
         "status": "ready"
      },
      {
         "name": "gold_members",
         "description": "loyalty program gold member",
         "extra": { "key": "value" },
         "created": "2017-08-08T20:41:06",
         "last_updated": "2017-11-01T18:00:27",
         "channel_count": 678,
         "status": "ready"
      }
   ]
}

Preparing Urban Airship data

If you don't already have a data structure in which to store the data you retrieve, you'll have to create a schema for your data tables. Then, for each value in the response, you'll need to identify a predefined datatype (INTEGER, DATETIME, etc.) and build a table that can receive them. Urban Airship's documentation should tell you what fields are provided by each endpoint, along with their corresponding datatypes.

Complicating things is the fact that the records retrieved from the source may not always be "flat" – some of the objects may actually be lists. This means you'll likely have to create additional tables to capture the unpredictable cardinality in each record.

Keeping Urban Airship data up to date

At this point you've coded up a script or written a program to get the data you want and successfully moved it into your data warehouse. But how will you load new or updated data? It's not a good idea to replicate all of your data each time you have updated records. That process would be painfully slow and resource-intensive.

Instead, identify key fields that your script can use to bookmark its progression through the data and use to pick up where it left off as it looks for updated data. Auto-incrementing fields such as updated_at or created_at work best for this. When you've built in this functionality, you can set up your script as a cron job or continuous loop to get new data as it appears in Urban Airship.

And remember, as with any code, once you write it, you have to maintain it. If Urban Airship modifies its API, or the API sends a field with a datatype your code doesn't recognize, you may have to modify the script. If your users want slightly different information, you definitely will have to.

From Urban Airship to your data warehouse: An easier solution

As mentioned earlier, the best practice for analyzing Urban Airship data in Google Data Studio is to store that data inside a data warehousing platform alongside data from your other databases and third-party sources. You can find instructions for doing these extractions for leading warehouses on our sister sites Urban Airship to Redshift, Urban Airship to BigQuery, and Urban Airship to Snowflake.

Easier yet, however, is using a solution that does all that work for you. Products like Stitch were built to solve this problem automatically. With just a few clicks, Stitch starts extracting your Urban Airship data via the API, structuring it in a way that is optimized for analysis, and inserting that data into a data warehouse that can be easily accessed and analyzed by Google Data Studio.