Labs

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Labs overview

Looker Labs features are new, in-progress features whose details may change over time. Labs features are split into two categories:

  • Beta: These features are expected to remain in the product, and errors are expected to be resolved at some point. However, these features may change in detail, and errors may not be fixed with the same speed as with normal features. You can see the list of current beta Labs features in the Beta features section on this page.
  • Experimental: These features may or may not remain in the product, and errors may or may not be corrected. These experimental features are intended to show you functionality that could be incorporated into Looker in the future and to get your feedback. You can see the list of current experimental Labs features in the Experimental features section on this page.

You can choose to use these features or leave them disabled. You'll see a list of these features on the Labs page in the General section of the Admin panel.

Each feature has a short description underneath it explaining the functionality that it adds to or changes in Looker.

Enabling and disabling Labs features

To enable or disable a feature, click the switch next to the feature name.

Use caution when disabling a Labs feature. If users or developers have relied on the feature to create a certain behavior, disabling the feature will break that functionality.

Current Labs features

Looker supports the following beta and experimental Labs features.

Beta features

Beta Labs features are expected to remain in the product, and errors are expected to be resolved at some point. However, their details may change, and errors may not be fixed with the same speed as they would be for normal features.

Accessible Data Table Visualizations

This Labs feature is disabled by default.

When this feature is enabled, the data table visualization will behave slightly differently in order to be fully accessible for all viewers. Specifically, this feature disallows double-clicking on table cells and unpins the row number column from the left side of the table.

Data Studio

This Labs feature is disabled by default.

When enabled on an instance, this Labs feature allows each Looker user to link their Google account to their Looker account for that Looker instance. Once the accounts are linked, users can view data from Looker Explores in Looker Studio reports by using the Looker connector. This connection is available only for Looker instances that are hosted on Google Cloud and only for the Google database dialects that are supported by Looker Studio.

Consider also enabling the Link to Data Studio from Explore Labs feature for the ability to open Explore queries in a Looker Studio report by using the Open in Data Studio Explore actions gear menu option.

Data history playback (data change over time animation) for visualization

This Labs feature is disabled by default.

If enabled, this Labs feature allows users to explore data changes over time for visualizations within dashboards. See the Viewing dashboards documentation page for more information.

Database Connection Pooling

This Labs feature is disabled by default.

This feature enables the use of preconfigured database connection pools on the Amazon Redshift, PostgreSQL, and Snowflake database dialects.

This option allows Looker to use pools of connections through the JDBC driver. Database connection pooling enables faster query performance; a new query does not need to create a new database connection but can instead use an existing connection from the connection pool. The connection pooling capability ensures that a connection is cleaned up after a query execution and is available for reuse after the query execution ends.

Embed Content Management

This Labs feature is disabled by default.

This feature enables content management features like moving, copying, and deleting content from the new embed navigation pane.

Embed Content Navigation

Enable this feature for enhanced content navigation on embedded dashboards, Looks, and Explores. If this feature is disabled, then embed content navigation will be disabled on dashboards, and the old navigation will be enabled on Looks and Explores.

Full Screen Visualizations

This Labs feature is enabled by default.

When enabled, this feature enables full-screen and expanded views for visualizations within dashboard tiles. See the Viewing dashboards documentation page for more information on view options.

Full-screen and expanded functionality can be turned off on a dashboard in the dashboard's Settings menu.

This option is not supported by legacy dashboards.

Improved LookML Generation

This Labs feature is disabled by default.

This feature improves the LookML generation experience and adds new features like auto-generated measures, inline comment explanations, and a README doc to new LookML projects that are generated from your database.

This feature also adds a Generate LookML from Database option to the + menu in the Looker IDE file browser toolbar.

In-page Table Calculations

This Labs feature is disabled by default.

The In-page Table Calculations Labs feature lets users create and edit table calculations directly in an Explore's Data section instead of using either the Create table calculation or the Edit table calculation pop-up. Creating and editing table calculations in the Data section lets users reference fields and values in an Explore query as they create and edit table calculation expressions.

New Explore Visualizations

The New Explore Visualizations Labs feature is enabled by default.

When this feature is enabled, the Explore page, Looks, embedded Looks or Explores, and dashboard tile edit windows display the same style of funnel chart, timeline, single value, and table visualizations as those that appear on dashboard tiles, instead of the styles that appear in legacy dashboards.

Additionally, when you enable the New Explore Visualizations Labs feature, the drill overlay that appears when you drill into an Explore matches the style of the drill overlay that appears in dashboards, instead of the style that appears in legacy dashboards and Looks.

Render Long Tables

This Labs feature is enabled by default.

This feature reduces the dashboard PDF rendering times for dashboards that contain tables with many rows, by displaying an experimental faster table.

If Render Long Tables is enabled and the Expand Tables to Show All Rows download or schedule option is selected, dashboard tiles that contain table visualizations may look slightly different in downloaded or delivered PDFs than they do inside Looker. The following differences may be noticeable in the PDF:

  • Customizations to background colors and font sizes are removed from column headers and subtotal rows.
  • Tables appear in the white theme.
  • The sort icon does not appear on pivoted tables that were not manually sorted.
  • Tables with Size Columns to Fit enabled stretch to the full width of the tile.

Additionally, for tables with more than 20,000 cells, the following differences may be noticeable in the PDF:

Smart Single Value Text Size

This Labs feature is disabled by default.

Enabling the Smart Single Value Text Size Labs feature automatically resizes the fonts on single value visualizations displayed within dashboard tiles. Fonts are resized to display at least 8-10 value characters within a tile; if the characters in the visualization overflow horizontally or vertically at a given size, the font size will step down. The minimum font size allowed is 14 pixels. Once the minimum font size is reached, any overflowing characters will be truncated with an ellipsis (...). The maximum font size allowed is 104 pixels.

When you're using this Labs features, single value tiles on dashboards may look less consistent, but more characters will fit on smaller tiles.

This Labs feature does not affect tiles on legacy dashboards.

SQL Runner Vis

This Labs feature is disabled by default.

This feature adds the ability to visualize ad hoc queries from SQL Runner.

Visual Drilling

This Labs feature is enabled by default.

The Visual Drilling Labs feature is not supported by dashboards. For these dashboards, visual drilling is possible through the use of the link parameter without needing to enable the Lab feature.

When Visual Drilling is turned off, the drill overlay always displays the data table.

When Visual Drilling is enabled, the drill overlays for Looks, Explores, and legacy dashboards consider the underlying data to select the best visualization type, which can be a table visualization or some other visualization type. Or, with Visual Drilling enabled, you can use the link parameter to customize a drill visualization, as shown on the link parameter documentation page and on the More powerful data drilling Best Practices page. When the visualization from a drill is not a table, buttons let the user switch between the default visualization type and a data table.

For more information about visualization types, see the Visualization types documentation page.

Experimental features

Experimental Labs features may or may not remain in the product, and errors may or may not be corrected. These experimental features are intended to show you functionality that could be incorporated into Looker in the future. We always welcome your feedback.

BI Engine Optimizations

This Labs feature is disabled by default.

When the BI Engine Optimizations Labs feature is enabled, Looker will generate experimental SQL patterns for certain types of LookML queries. These SQL changes are designed specifically to execute faster on Google BigQuery's BI Engine, but may provide performance enhancements for all database dialects. This feature should have no effect on query results, only runtime.

Cookieless Embed

This Labs feature is disabled by default.

When the Cookieless Embed Labs feature is enabled, browsers that block third-party cookies can authenticate users in the embedded iframe across different domains. Cookieless embed authentication requires server-side configuration. See the Looker JavaScript Embed SDK README for setup instructions.

Dashboards in Drill Menus

When this Labs feature is enabled, Looker automatically suggests dashboards that have a filter based on the field you are drilling into. Suggested dashboards appear in the drill menu.

In systems with many dashboards, this feature decreases dashboard performance.

Enhanced Query Admin

This Labs feature is disabled by default.

When enabled, this feature enhances the Queries page in the Database section of the Admin menu. The enhanced page features tabs for Recent and Complete queries. These tabs are paginated for improved performance, and display 50 queries per page.

  • The Recent tab displays queries run in the last hour. From this tab, Looker admins can cancel running queries.

  • The Complete tab displays the most recent 500 queries.

Guided analyses in System Activity

When enabled, the History System Activity Explore displays guided analysis options to leverage a question-and-answer format for performing analyses.

Instant Dashboards

Dashboards display previous data while new queries are run.

If Instant Dashboards are enabled, when a dashboard loads, Looker pulls data from the cache to immediately display data from the previous run. The dashboard issues new queries that run in the background, and dashboard tiles are then updated as new data is retrieved. The spinner icon appears on the top right of each tile that is still loading, indicating that a query is running in the background and that the currently displayed data is from the last time the query was run. This has the advantage of users not seeing a blank dashboard while it's loading, but the disadvantage of possibly showing stale data while the new queries run. Instant Dashboards are only supported by legacy dashboards.

Enabling Instant Dashboards also affects how long data is stored in the cache, since this feature relies on the existence of cached data to display.

This Labs feature is enabled by default.

The Link to Data Studio in Explore Labs feature lets users open Explore queries in a Looker Studio report by using the Open in Data Studio Explore gear menu option. This gear menu option is available only for the Google database dialects that are supported by Looker Studio.

In order to use the Link to Data Studio in Explore Labs feature:

  • The Data Studio Labs feature must also be enabled on your instance. If the Labs feature is not enabled, users will receive an error when they select the Open in Data Studio Explore gear menu option.
  • Your instance must be hosted on Google Cloud. If your instance is not hosted on Google Cloud, you will not see the Link to Data Studio in Explore Labs feature option on the Labs page in the Admin panel.

See the Connect to Looker documentation page for more information about ways to view Looker data in Looker Studio.

Local Project Import

This Labs feature is disabled by default.

A LookML project can reference files in other locally maintained projects through the use of the local_dependency keyword in a manifest file. Enabling this Labs feature is not required to use the remote_dependency keyword.

New Groups Page

This Labs feature is disabled by default.

The Groups page in the Users section of the Admin menu lists and lets you manage all the user groups on your Looker instance.

When New Groups Page is enabled, the Groups page displays a new, redesigned table and pagination that simplifies group management and increases performance on instances that have a large number of groups. For more information, see the New Groups Page section of the Groups documentation page.

New Users Page

This Labs feature is disabled by default.

The updated Users page in the Users section of the Admin menu lets you manage all the users on your Looker instance.

When New Users Page is enabled, the Users page displays a new, redesigned table and pagination that simplifies user management and increases performance on instances that have a large number of users.

Propose to switch to google map if mapbox fails within the dashboard

This Labs feature is enabled by default.

If this feature is enabled, Looker will propose switching map charts to Google Maps charts if map charts are broken in a dashboard's tiles.

If all map charts on a user-defined dashboard are broken, and a dashboard viewer has edit access for the dashboard, a window appears on the dashboard asking if the viewer would like to switch to Google Maps charts. If the viewer chooses to switch by clicking the Convert all Maps button, the dashboard enters edit mode and the charts are automatically updated to Google Maps charts. The viewer can then save the changes to the dashboard to exit edit mode. If the dashboard viewer does not have edit access, the window does not appear and the charts remain broken.

If all map charts on a LookML dashboard break, a window appears on the dashboard providing instructions for updating the dashboard LookML to convert all charts to Google Maps charts.

Reduce Filter Queries

This Labs feature is disabled by default.

This feature reduces the number of queries that are sent by filters. This moves any filter that requests suggestions into a popover where it will not fetch suggestions until a user clicks on it.

Redux DevTools

This Labs feature is disabled by default.

This feature enables Redux DevTools for debugging application state.