Liquid variable reference

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Liquid is a templating language that you can use in Looker to create more dynamic content. For example, you could build URLs to external tools based on the results of a query, or change which database table is queried based on a user's selection.

Liquid statements are built from variables, filters, and tags. Variables contain information that you want to use, and the variables that Looker provides are described on this page. You can further modify those values by using filters and tags, which you can read about in this Liquid guide.

There are several places in LookML that you can use Liquid:

Using Liquid variables

Basic usage of Liquid variables is straightforward. Once you've identified the variable you'd like to use (see the following list), simply insert it into a valid LookML parameter. The specific Liquid variables that you can use in specific LookML parameters are defined next.

Two kinds of Liquid usage

There are two ways to make use of a Liquid variable:

  1. Output Syntax: This type of usage can insert text, and is probably the most common way to use Liquid in Looker. In this method, you enclose the Liquid variable in two curly braces. For example: {{ value }}
  2. Tag Syntax: This type of usage usually doesn't insert text; instead, it is for logical comparisons and other Liquid operations. In this method, you enclose the Liquid variable in one curly brace and a single percent sign. For example: {% if value > 10000 %}

Basic examples

In this example of HTML usage, a product ID is being inserted into an <img> tag to generate product images:

dimension: product_image {
  sql: ${product_id} ;;
  html: <img src="https://www.brettcase.com/product_images/{{ value }}.jpg" /> ;;
}

In this example of URL usage, an artist name is being inserted into a URL to produce a Google search for that artist.

dimension: artist_name {
  sql: ${TABLE}.artist_name ;;
  link: {
    label: "Google"
    url: "https://www.google.com/search?q={{ value }}"
    icon_url: "https://google.com/favicon.ico"
  }
}

In this example of SQL usage, the database table is being determined according to which fields the user chooses. The syntax uses an if, else if (denoted as elsif), else structure to check and react to the fields included in the query.

sql_table_name:
  {% if event.created_date._in_query %}
    event_by_day
  {% elsif event.created_week._in_query %}
    event_by_week
  {% else %}
    event
  {% endif %} ;;

In this example of label usage, the email dimension changes its label value depending on the LookML model name. This will dynamically change the name of the field in the field picker and in any query results that include the email dimension:

dimension: email {
  label: "{% if _model._name == 'thelook' %} Looker Registered Email Address {% else %} External Email Address {% endif %}"
  type: string
  sql: ${TABLE}.email ;;
}

For additional usage examples, see the individual LookML parameter page you're interested in.

Accessing variables from other fields

Liquid variables are usually based on the field where they are being used. However, you can also access values from other fields if needed.

Use the format {{ view_name.field_name._liquid-variable-name }} to access other fields from the same row in the query result. Replace _liquid-variable-name with any of the Looker Liquid variables. Make sure the variable name is preceded by an underscore if it isn't normally, like these:

  • {{ view_name.field_name._value }}
  • {{ view_name.field_name._rendered_value }}
  • {{ view_name.field_name._model._name }}

This example shows this type of usage to access a website URL from a different field:

dimension: linked_name {
  sql: ${name} ;;
  html: <a href="{{ website.url._value }}" target="_blank">{{ value }}</a> ;;
}

When you reference another field with the {{ field_name._value }} Liquid variable syntax, the referenced field is added to the SELECT clause of the SQL query and added as an additional column in the GROUP BY clause. This is necessary to properly retrieve the values in the referenced field. However, it can cause unexpected results in aggregate measures. For more information, see the section on using Liquid variables in aggregate measures on this page.

Liquid variable definitions

The following table describes the Liquid variables that you can use with LookML. The Usage column indicates which LookML parameters each Liquid variable can be used with, and includes the following options:

A = Works with the action parameter.

DV = Works with the default_value (for dashboards) parameter.

DE = Works with the description parameter at the field level, but will not work with description at the Explore level.

F = Works with the filters (for dashboard elements) parameter.

H = Works with the html parameter.

LA = Works with the label parameters at the field level, including the label parameter, view_label parameter, group_label parameter, and group_item_label parameter, but will not work with label parameters at the model, Explore, view, or reference line level, or with label as a subparameter of link.

LI = Works with the link parameter.

S = Works with all LookML parameters that begin with sql (e.g. sql, sql_on, and sql_table_name).

Variable Definition Usage Example Output
Field Values
value The raw value of the field returned by the database query. Can refer to a pivoted field's value.

In addition to the parameters shown in the Usage column, value is supported in the label subparameter of the action and link parameters.
A H LI 8521935
rendered_value The value of the field with Looker's default formatting.

You can reference date formatting syntax in rendered_value, as shown in the Easy date formatting with Liquid Best Pratices page.

In addition to the parameters shown in the Usage column, rendered_value is supported in the label subparameter of the action and link parameters.
A H LI $8,521,935.00
filterable_value The value of the field formatted for use as a filter in a Looker URL.

For example, when filtering on a string value that include a comma such as "Periaptly, Inc", the value variable returns two different strings, "Periaptly" and "Inc". The filterable_value variable corrects this by escaping special characters and returning a single string, in this example, "Periaptly, Inc".
A H LI 8521935
Links
link The URL to Looker's default drill link. Note that some fields will not have any default link. A H LI S /explore/thelook/orders?fields=orders.order_amount&limit=500
linked_value The value of the field with Looker's default formatting and default linking. Measures do not have default linking, so measures require configuration of the drill_fields parameter to work with linked_value. A H LI $8,521,935.00
Filters
_filters['view_name.field_name'] The user filters applied to the field you ask for with view_name.field_name.

_filters['view_name.field_name'] is also supported in the sql parameter of a derived table, but is not supported in other sql parameters.

Using _filters['view_name.field_name'] in a derived table sql parameter requires the sql_quote Liquid filter.
A DE H LA LI NOT NULL
{% date_start date_filter_name %} The beginning date in a date filter you ask for with date_filter_name. See the Usage of date_start and date_end section for more information. S 2017-01-01
{% date_end date_filter_name %} The ending date in a date filter you ask for with date_filter_name. See the Usage of date_start and date_end section for more information. S 2017-01-01
{% condition filter_name %}
sql_or_lookml_reference
{% endcondition %}
The value of the filter you ask for with filter_name applied to the sql_or_lookml_reference as SQL. This variable is used with templated filters and conditional joins. S See the Templated filters documentation page and the Conditional joins section of the sql_on documentation page for examples.
{% parameter parameter_name %} The value of the parameter filter you ask for with parameter_name. DE LA S See the parameter parameter documentation page for examples.
parameter_name._parameter_value Injects the value of the parameter filter you ask for with parameter_name into a logical statement. DE H LA LI S See the parameter parameter documentation page for important details and examples.
User Attributes
_user_attributes['name_of_attribute'] The value of the user attribute you ask for with name_of_attribute, for the particular user running the query, if user attributes are being used. The _user_attributes['name_of_attribute'] variable can also be used in advanced filter syntax. A DE H LA LI S DV F northeast
(if, for example, the user attribute was "region")

See the Using user attributes for dynamic schema and table name injection Best Practices page for an additional example.
_localization['localization_key'] Returns the value associated with a localization key defined in a model's strings file based on a user's locale. DV F See the Localizing your LookML model documentation page for an example.
LookML Objects
_model._name The name of the model for this field. A DE H LA LI S thelook
_view._name The name of the view for this field. A DE H LA LI S orders
_explore._name The name of the Explore for this field. A DE H LA LI S order_items
_explore._dashboard_url ADDED 22.12 The relative URL for the current dashboard. H LI /dashboards/5
_field._name The name of the field itself, in view_name.field_name format. A DE H LA LI S orders.total_order_amount
Queries
_query._query_timezone The time zone in which the query was run. A DE H LA LI S America/Los_Angeles
view_name._in_query Returns true if any field from the view is included in the query. DE LA LI S true
view_name.field_name._in_query Returns true if the field you ask for with view_name.field_name appears in the query data table, or is included in a filter for a query, or is included in a query via the required_fields parameter. DE LA LI S true
view_name.field_name._is_selected Returns true if the field you ask for with view_name.field_name appears in the query data table. DE LA LI S true
view_name.field_name._is_filtered Returns true if the field you ask for with view_name.field_name is included in a filter for the query. DE LA LI S true

Usage of date_start and date_end

The date_start and date_end Liquid variables are very useful for database dialects that partition data into multiple tables by date, such as BigQuery. Please note that you must use the tag syntax {% date_start date_filter_name %} or {% date_end date_filter_name %}. You cannot use the output syntax {{ date_start date_filter_name }} or {{ date_end date_filter_name }}, even though this syntax would typically be used to generate text.

For example, you can create these fields in a view:


filter: new_filter_test{
  type: date
}

dimension: filter_start{
  type: date
  sql: {% date_start new_filter_test %} ;;
}

dimension: filter_end{
  type: date
  sql: {% date_end new_filter_test %} ;;
}

If you filter an Explore on new_filter_test using the date range April 1, 2022 to May 25, 2022, the filter_start dimension would evaluate to April 1, 2022; the filter_end would evaluate to May 25, 2022.

Note the following about date_start and date_end:

  • If the user doesn't filter the query using the filter that is specified in the date_filter part of the Liquid variable, both {% date_start date_filter %} and {% date_end date_filter %} will evaluate to NULL.

  • If the user filters the query with an open-ended range on the filter that is specified in the date_filter part of the Liquid variable, the open end of the range will resolve to NULL. For example, using the example, if in the Explore a user sets the new_filter_test to before 2022-06-07, the {% date_start date_filter %} output will be NULL, since the user specified a range that has an end date but no start date. If a user sets the new_filter_test to after 2022-06-07, the {% date_end date_filter %} output will be NULL.

In either of these scenarios where the Liquid output may show a result of NULL, be sure to include a SQL function in the sql parameter to account for NULL values, such as IFNULL or COALESCE, depending on your database dialect.

See the Using date_start and date_end Best Practices page for an in-depth explanation on how to use the date_start and date_end Liquid variables to deal with date-partitioned tables.

See the Analytic Block Flexible period-over-period analysis Community post for an example of using date_start and date_end for flexible period-over-period analysis.

Usage of _in_query, _is_selected, and _is_filtered

Note that the _in_query, _is_selected, and _is_filtered variables provide either a true or false value, as shown in this example. Consequently, choosing the proper type of Liquid variable reference is important.

If you want to determine whether or not something is included in your query, then insert certain text based on that, you should use a pattern like this:

{% if view_name.field_name._in_query %}
  something to insert if true
{% else %}
  something to insert if false
{% endif %}

If you want to literally insert the word "true" or "false", use a pattern like this:

{{ view_name.field_name._in_query }}

Some SQL dialects do not support the literal words "true" and "false". In that case, you can add the sql_boolean filter to get the true and false values you need:

{{ view_name.field_name._in_query | sql_boolean }}

The same patterns apply to the _is_selected and _is_filtered variables.

Usage of Liquid variables with the label parameter

You can use Liquid variables in a field's label parameter to dynamically change the field's appearance in the field picker and in visualizations. See the table section on this page to see which Liquid variables will work with the label parameter.

Liquid variables work with label parameters at the field level, including the label parameter, view_label parameter, group_label parameter, and group_item_label parameter, but will not work with label parameters at the model, Explore, view, or reference line level, or with label as a subparameter of link.

The following variables can be used with label to affect the field picker, column headers in the data section of an Explore, and visualizations:

  • _model._name
  • _view._name
  • _explore._name
  • _field._name
  • _user_attributes['name_of_attribute']

The other Liquid variables marked with LA in the table above, such as those that return a value based on a filter (like _filters) or require that a query be run before the variable value can be determined (like in_query), will not change the name of the field in the field picker. In those cases, the field name will only be changed in the resulting visualization.

When using the parameter Liquid variable with label, label is passed the value of the value subparameter.

Usage of Liquid variables with the description parameter

You can use Liquid variables with the description parameter to dynamically change the description for a field. This description appears when users hover over the field's information icon in the field picker, the field's column name in the data section of the Explore, or the field's column name in a table chart. See the table in the Liquid variable definitions section on this page to see which Liquid variables work with the description parameter.

Liquid variables work with the description parameter only at the field level. They will not work with the description parameter at the Explore level.

The following variables can be used with description to affect the field picker, the data section of an Explore, and the column header in a table chart:

  • _model._name
  • _view._name
  • _explore._name
  • _field._name
  • _user_attributes['name_of_attribute']

The other Liquid variables marked with DE in the table above, such as Liquid variables that return a value based on a filter (like _filters) or require that a query run before the variable value can be determined (like in_query) will not change the description in the field picker or in the data section of an Explore. These Liquid variables will only affect the description shown when a user hovers over the field's column header in a table chart.

For examples of how to use Liquid in the description parameter, see the description parameter documentation page.

Things to consider

Referencing yesno fields

To reference a yesno field's value, the value is case sensitive. Use Yes or No. For example:

{% if value == 'Yes' %}

Using logical operators with Liquid variables

You can use the logical operators and, or, and not with Liquid variables. Logical operators in Liquid are case-sensitive and must be written in all lowercase. For example:

{% if value == "Shirt" or value == "Shoes" %}
  This is a shirt or shoes.
{% endif %}

Getting the "Variable not found" error

One reason you might get this error in Liquid is if you use {{ }} and {% %} at the same time, like this:

{% if value > {{ search_latency_top_hr.limit_95._value }} %}

Instead do this:

{% if value > search_latency_top_hr.limit_95._value %}

If you are using a templated filter, then check whether you are referencing a table name that you have not joined into the derived table.

Naming conventions can affect query grouping

If there is a field with the name value, this field will be included in the GROUP BY clause of an Explore query whenever the value Liquid variable is referenced in another field within the same view.

For example:

dimension: id {
  primary_key: true
  type: number
  sql: ${TABLE}.id ;;
  html:
    {% if value > 10 %}
      <font color="darkgreen">{{ rendered_value }}</font>
    {% elsif value > 11 %}
      <font color="goldenrod">{{ rendered_value }}</font>
    {% else %}
      <font color="darkred">{{ rendered_value }}</font>
    {% endif %} ;;
}

dimension: value {
  sql: ${TABLE}.status ;;
  type: string
}

This will generate the following SQL when only id is selected in an Explore:

SELECT
orders.id AS orders.id,
orders.status AS orders.value
FROM order_items
LEFT JOIN orders ON order_items.order_id = orders.id

GROUP BY 1,2
ORDER BY orders.id
LIMIT 500

To avoid this grouping behavior, make sure to scope the value variable with the name of the field to explicitly reference the field:

dimension: id {
  primary_key: true
  type: number
  sql: ${TABLE}.id ;;
  html:
    {% if value > 10 %}
      <font color="darkgreen">{{ id._rendered_value }}</font>
    {% elsif value > 11 %}
      <font color="goldenrod">{{ id._rendered_value }}</font>
    {% else %}
      <font color="darkred">{{ id._rendered_value }}</font>
    {% endif %} ;;
}

Using _filters['view_name.field_name'] in a derived table requires sql_quote

When you are defining a SQL-based derived table, if you use the _filters['view_name.field_name'] Liquid variable where the value is rendered in SQL and the filter returns a string value, you need to add single quotation marks around the output. You can do this by including the sql_quote Liquid filter.

For example, if you are using either of these Liquid variables in the sql parameter of a derived_table parameter:

{{ _filters['view_name.field_name'] }}

or

{% assign foo = _filters['view_name.field_name']  %} foo

You can append the Liquid filter | sql_quote to the Liquid variable declaration:

{{ _filters['view_name.field_name'] | sql_quote }}

and

{% assign foo = _filters['view_name.field_name'] | sql_quote %} foo

Here is an example derived table that uses the _filters['view_name.field_name'] variable:

view: users_sql_based_dt {
  derived_table: {
    sql:
    SELECT
      users.id AS id,
          (DATE(users.created_at)) AS created_date,
      users.city AS city,
      COUNT(*) AS user_count
    FROM
        public.users AS users
    {% if users_sql_based_dt.city._is_filtered %}
      WHERE
        users.city = {{ _filters['users_sql_based_dt.city'] | sql_quote  }}
    {% endif %}
    GROUP BY
        1,
        2,
        3
    ORDER BY
        2 DESC
      ;;
  }

The city field is a string that will be output to SQL, so the sql_quote Liquid filter is needed to be sure that the output SQL is enclosed in single quotes. In the resultant Explore, when a user specifies a city name as a filter, Looker encloses the city name string in quotes. Looker sends this SQL to the database if a user filters the Explore query on the city value New York:

WHERE
    users.city = 'New York'

If you are using the _filters['view_name.field_name'] Liquid variable for a string field in a derived table where the value is rendered in SQL, you will get the following LookML warning if you do not append | sql_quote to the Liquid variable:

Using "_filters[]" in Derived Table SQL without "sql_quote" is discouraged.

You can also use sql_quote with this syntax to quote multiple values in an array:

{{ _filters['view_name.field_name'] |split(",") | sql_quote |join(",") }}

Here is an example where the Liquid output is being used as input for an IN statement:

 WHERE
    users.city IN({{ _filters['users_sql_based_dt.city'] |split(",") | sql_quote |join(",") }})

With this syntax, the Liquid output will have quotes around each individual value ('value1','value2','value3') instead of having quotes around the full list ('value1, value2, value3').

Liquid variables in aggregate measures affect grouping

When you use the {{ view_name.field_name._value }} syntax or the {{ field_name._value }} syntax in the link or html parameter of a measure to reference a value from another field, Looker pulls that field into the SQL query to grab the field value. Because of this, Liquid can affect how SQL queries are generated and how many columns the GROUP BY clause uses, which can cause unexpected behavior when you're working with aggregate measures, such as measures of type: count.

For example, suppose you have the two following measures:

measure: count_without_liquid {
  type: count
}

measure: count_with_liquid {
  type: count
  link: {
    label: "Status Count"
    url: "https://www.google.com/search?q={{ status._value }}"
  }
}

When you generate a query using the count_without_liquid measure, you get the following results:

Results in a data table for a query with the Created Month and Count Without Liquid fields selected.

In this case, the query returns a single count for each month. The SQL that is generated for the previous results is shown next:

SELECT
  TO_CHAR(DATE_TRUNC('month', order_items.created_at ), 'YYYY-MM') AS "order_items.created_month",
  COUNT(*) AS "order_items.count_without_liquid"
FROM order_items AS order_items

GROUP BY DATE_TRUNC('month', order_items.created_at )
ORDER BY 1 DESC
LIMIT 500

However, when you generate a query using the count_with_liquid measure, you get the following results:

Results in a data table for a query with the Created Month and Count with Liquid fields selected.

This example shows that, instead of a count for each month in the query, you receive a count for each month and for each status. That is because, in the generated SQL, the status field was added to the query so that its value could be retrieved. And, because it was added to the query, it was also added to the GROUP BY clause:

SELECT
  TO_CHAR(DATE_TRUNC('month', order_items.created_at ), 'YYYY-MM') AS "order_items.created_month",
    order_items.status AS "order_items.status",
    COUNT(*) AS "order_items.count_without_liquid"
FROM order_items AS order_items

GROUP BY DATE_TRUNC('month', order_items.created_at ),2
ORDER BY 1 DESC
LIMIT 500

One option to stop this from happening is to use the row[] function with the Liquid variable, which pulls its value from the rendered results in the browser and therefore does not add the referenced field into the SQL query:

  link: {
    label: "{% if row['view_name.field_name'] %} some_label {% endif %}"
    url: "https://www.google.com/search?q={{ row['view_name.field_name'] }}"
  }

When you're using this syntax, note that the link parameter works only if the field is selected or included in the query by some other means.

To sum up, the use of the row[] syntax will not cause the field to be added to the query like {{ field_name._value }} does. The dynamic label will cause the link to have no label if the field is not available, which causes the link to disappear from the link menu.