sql_table_name (for views)

This page refers to the sql_table_name parameter that is part of a view.

sql_table_name can also be used as part of a join, described on the sql_table_name (for joins) parameter documentation page.

sql_table_name can also be used as part of an Explore, described on the sql_table_name (for Explores) parameter documentation page.


view: view_name {
  sql_table_name: table_name ;;
Default Value
The name of the view

A table name in your database

Special Rules


The sql_table_name parameter specifies the table in your database that will be queried by a view.

If you want to create a view based on a derived table, do not use the sql_table_name parameter. Instead use the derived table parameter, described on the derived_table documentation page. The Looker IDE will return an error if you have both sql_table_name and derived_table in a view file.

If a view does not contain either the sql_table_name or the derived_table parameter, Looker assumes that the view is based on a database table, and that the name of the database table matches the name of the view. In other words, this:

view: my_name { ... }

is logically equivalent to this:

view: my_name {
  sql_table_name: my_name ;;

It is quite common to fall back on this default behavior, and not use sql_table_name. However, there are some major situations where it can be useful. First, in some cases you'll simply want the view to have a different name than the underlying table, such as to clean up a messy table name:

view: orders {
  sql_table_name: prod_orders_2 ;;

Additionally, there are cases when a view needs to be based on a database or schema that is not in the database user's default search path. You can then scope the table name, using the format <schema_name>.<table_name>, like this:

view: desired_view_name {
  sql_table_name: database_name.schema_name.table_name ;;

Scoping table names

When you reference a table using the table name alone, Looker will use the default search path (the database and schema) that your Looker admin has configured in the connection settings for the database connection. See the Things to consider section on this page for more information.

If you need to reference a table in a different database and schema that is not in the database user's default search path, you can scope the table name using the <database_name>.<schema_name>.<table_name> format to point to another database or schema:

  • To reference a table from a different schema, use <schema_name>.<table_name>, as shown in the example on this page.
  • To reference a table from a different database, use the full <database_name>.<schema_name>.<table_name>.

For a Google BigQuery connection, you can reference a table in a different project and dataset by scoping the table name using the format <project_name>.<dataset_name>.<table_name>. See the Google BigQuery connection documentation page for additional information.

Federated joins

Joining two tables from different databases is called a federated join. Federated joins can be performed using Looker if the two databases are on the same SQL dialect, the dialect supports federated joins, and the two databases are both accessible from the same connection in Looker. Depending on your database configuration, the tables may also need to reside on the same physical machine.

Under those conditions, you can create a federated join by specifying the database name of each table in the sql_table_name parameter for that view:

view: view_1 {
  sql_table_name: database_name.table_1 ;;

view: view_2 {
  sql_table_name: another_database_name.table_2 ;;

Then join these views using the sql_on parameter:

explore: view_1 {
  join: view_2 {
    sql_on: ${view_1.view_1_ID} = ${view_2.view_2_ID} ;;

If you want to join databases that are in different SQL dialects, we recommend replicating one database into the other so that you can pull all data from a single source.


This example makes the customers view rely on the customer_1 table from the default schema:

view: customers {
  sql_table_name: customer_1 ;;

This example makes the customers view rely on the customer_1 table from the analytics by scoping the table name to include the schema name (using the format <schema_name>.<table_name>):

view: customers {
  sql_table_name: analytics.customer_1 ;;

Things to consider

Tables referenced by view must be accessible from the current connection

When the sql_table_name parameter is used within a view object, that view object can be referenced in an explore object, which is in turn referenced in a model object. The model object has a database connection defined in it. When you reference a database table in the sql_table_name parameter, the table needs to be accessible within the associated connection specified in the model file.

The default database and schema (or, for Google BigQuery, the billing project and dataset) are defined by your Looker admin when they create the Looker connection to your database for the database connection.

Unfriendly table names may require additional formatting

Some dialects require that table names that have unsupported characters, also known as "unfriendly" table names, be enclosed in square brackets, double quotes, or single quotes. For example, the table name Customers.PaymentInfo includes a period in the table name, which could be interpreted as a table called PaymentInfo in the schema Customers. To correct this, if your dialect requires square brackets, you can enclose the table name in square brackets, as follows:

sql_table_name: [Customers.PaymentInfo] ;;

If your dialect requires double quotes or single quotes, you would replace the square brackets for those characters.