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Labs

Labs overview

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

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.

Database Connection Pooling

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

This option lets Looker 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. This Labs feature is disabled by default.

Enhanced Navigation

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New in Looker 21.12 is a new and redesigned navigation experience that makes it easier for users to self-serve and organize their content.

Redesigned and more performant navigation makes it faster for users to self-serve and organize the content they care about. This Labs feature is disabled by default.

Extension Framework

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New in Looker 21.12, Looker’s extension framework is no longer a Labs feature, and you can enable or disable it in the Platform section of the Admin menu.

Improved LookML Generation

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New in Looker 21.12 are enhancements to the LookML generation experience.

Improves the LookML generation experience and adds new features like auto-generated measures and inline comment explanations. This Labs feature is disabled by default.

Marketplace

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New in Looker 21.12, Looker’s Marketplace is no longer a Labs feature. You can enable or disable it in the Platform section of the Admin menu, and you now have the option to automatically install and update select Looker-built applications.

New Explore Visualizations

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

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.

The New Explore Visualizations Labs feature is disabled by default.

Render Long Tables

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New in Looker 21.12, the Render Long Tables Labs feature is now supported as a beta rather than an experimental Labs feature and is enabled by default.

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

This Labs feature is enabled by default.

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:

SQL Runner Vis

Adds the ability to visualize ad hoc queries from SQL Runner. This Labs feature is disabled by default.

Upgraded Explore Field Picker

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Starting in Looker 21.12, the upgraded Explore field picker is the default method for selecting fields in Explores unless an admin has enabled the legacy field picker.

Visual Drilling

The Visual Drilling Labs feature is not supported by the new dashboard experience. Dashboards using the new dashboard experience support visual drilling through the use of the link parameter without the need to enable the Lab feature.

This Labs feature is enabled by default.

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 select the best visualization based on the underlying data, which may be a table visualization or some other visualization type. Or, with Visual Drilling enabled, a drill visualization can be customized by using the link parameter, as shown on the link parameter documentation page and in the More powerful data drilling Help Center article. When the visualization from a drill is not a table, buttons allow the user to 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.

Custom Fields

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New in Looker 21.12 for the Custom Fields Labs feature is the ability to create custom groupings on numeric or nonnumeric dimensions and to quickly access some commonly used table calculations.

This Labs feature is disabled by default. When it’s enabled, this feature lets users with the create_table_calculations permission create additional, temporary fields on the Explore page that (unlike table calculations) become part of the query running in the database. Other users can see the new fields if they have the create_table_calculations permission themselves, if they are given the Explore query’s URL, or if they are given access to a Look or dashboard that uses that field.

Use the Custom Fields Labs feature if you want to let some of your business users have these capabilities:

For more information, see the Adding custom fields documentation page.

Dashboards in Drill Menus

Automatically suggests dashboards with matching filters.

Suggested dashboards will appear in the drill menu. In systems with many dashboards, this feature decreases dashboard performance.

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.

Local Project Import

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. This Labs feature is disabled by default.

New Groups Page

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

This Labs feature is disabled by default.

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

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

This Labs feature is disabled by default.

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.

Reduce Filter Queries

Reduce the number of queries 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.

This Labs feature is disabled by default.

Redux DevTools

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New in Looker 21.12 is the Redux DevTools Labs feature.

Enable Redux DevTools for debugging application state. This Labs feature is disabled by default.

Search Service

This Labs feature is available for Kubernetes-hosted Looker instances only.

This Labs feature is disabled by default. When enabled, Search Service enables a new content search function that returns better results and ranking.

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