The annual dbt conference is sadly behind us. High time to discuss some highlights of dbt Coalesce 2023!

First of all, what is dbt? dbt stands for data build tool. This software allows us to transform data. We bring data together and enrich it to ultimately provide insights to organizations. The end result are transformed tables (also called models) that can very well be used by visualization tools to display information. In the process, all changes can be tracked exactly, making collaboration, even in large teams, very possible. At the same time, it remains very clear which data comes from where and which transformed tables/models depend on which.

dbt Core is an open-source tool that makes a lot of people's work better and easier. dbt Labs develops this freely available software. They also offer a cloud solution(dbt Cloud) that seamlessly integrates with it and provides a number of features that are essential for larger teams and organizations. dbt Coalesce is the annual conference for users of these tools. There were a number of locations, but The Information Lab Netherlands attended this year in San Diego!


A conference is always a good opportunity to meet people working on the same thing. Sharing knowledge and insights is very valuable. So it was very useful and fun to speak to so many other Analytics Engineers. The developers of dbt themselves were also present in large numbers. This gave us a nice look behind the scenes. One of the highlights was definitely the sense of community we experienced. It provides confidence to know how involved dbt Labs is with the people and organizations using dbt.

Another highlight is the new features that have been made available. These were also discussed and explained in detail at the conference:

1. Continuous integration improvements

Improved Continuous Integration options allow for cost savings. With the new setup, models don't have to be materialized as often, which saves money. At the same time, with CI jobs automatically triggered on a Merge/Pull request, we know that the code we want to add doesn't break something else.

2. Semantic Layer

The new Semantic Layer is finally here! dbt Labs has invested a great deal in creating a new samantic layer that will make integration with BI Tools even easier. The concepts of the semantic layer fit well with many BI tools, but more importantly: definitions of calculations can now be defined centrally. This reduces the room for error.

3. dbt Cloud CLI

For users who want to use dbt Cloud functionality outside the dbt Cloud IDE, the dbt Cloud CLI is going to mean a lot, I think. (CLI stands for command-line interface.) This makes it possible to be able to opt for a more hybrid method of development and brings dbt Core closer to dbt Cloud.

4. dbt Mesh

One of the big themes of this conference was how large some dbt projects have become over the years. dbt Labs has added a number of tools to deal with this, under the name dbt Mesh. The great thing is that many tools can be used independently of each other, but actually complement each other very well. Here are some examples:

  1. Larger projects can be broken up into multiple projects, where we can refer in one project to a public model in another.
  2. Model contracts allow us to avoid making changes to a model used by other models (for example, in another project).
  3. There is a new way to understand the structure of a dbt project: the dbt Explorer!


The dbt Coalesce 2023 conference was very informative and useful and I really enjoyed it. Hopefully I was able to share some of that enthusiasm with this blog!

Thanks for reading this blog. Check out our blog page for more blogs about Tableau, Alteryx, and Snowflake.

Work together with one of our consultants and get more out of your data. 

Contact us and we will help you.