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Labs Overview

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

You can choose to use these features or leave them disabled. You’ll see a list of these features in the Admin section’s Labs panel. The list of available features may vary, so the feature names and descriptions are blurred in this example:

Each feature has a short description underneath it explaining the functionality that it adds to or changes in Looker. If you would like more details about a feature, check out the Community Forums, which sometimes have more detailed descriptions, or reach out to Looker Support.

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 experimental and beta 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.

Sandboxed Custom Visualizations

Supports custom visualizations rendered in a sandbox.

Custom visualizations are a community-supported effort. Looker’s support team does not troubleshoot issues relating to custom visualizations or your custom visualization code. For tracking and closing out bugs, please use GitHub issues in the custom visualization’s repository, or visit Looker’s Community Forums for how-to articles, conversations, and tips regarding custom visualizations.

For more information about custom visualizations, see the Visualizations documentation page. To enjoy full functionality of this Labs feature, admins for customer-hosted deployments should make sure you also have installed Chromium.

Slack App

New in Looker 6.24, the Slack App Labs feature is available only for Looker-hosted deployments on 6.24+ with IP Whitelisting disabled.

Allows users to send Looker content in direct messages, public channels, and private channels in Slack using OAuth.

After turning on the Slack App switch on the Labs page, enable the Slack (Beta) action on the Actions Admin page.

SQL Runner Vis

Adds the ability to visualize ad hoc queries from SQL Runner.

System Activity Model

Enables the System Activity pages for admins and users with the see_system_activity permission. The System Activity pages are Explores and dashboards from the Looker internal database that provide data about historical queries and transactions, Looker content usage, Looker user and group activity, and application performance for the Looker instance.

This new model is intended as an enhanced future replacement for the internal i__looker model and legacy usage panel.

Before enabling System Activity on a customer-hosted Looker deployment with MySQL backend, verify that you have properly set up the user for the backend database. Specifically, you must perform the step to grant all on looker_tmp.* to '<DB_username>'@'%'; before enabling the System Activity feature. See the procedure on the Migrating the Looker Backend Database to MySQL documentation page.

Visual Drilling

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

When Visual Drilling is enabled, the drill overlay selects 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 this documentation page and this 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.

Curated Search

New in 6.24, the Curated Search Labs feature is automatically enabled until otherwise disabled by an instance admin. Curated Search does not apply to Closed Systems.

When Curated Search is enabled, search results will include content from shared folders, the user’s personal folder, and boards. Search results will contain content that is saved in other users’ personal folders if the content is also pinned to a board. The search will exclude content that exists only in the personal folders of other users. If a user wants their search results to include this content, they have the option of turning off Curated Search by clicking the switch next to the feature name in the search modal.

See the Finding Content in Looker documentation page for more information.

Custom Fields

The Custom Fields Labs feature is only visible once you have created a user group called Custom Fields Beta Users. See the Managing Business User Features documentation page for details.

Lets specific business users 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 given the Explore query’s URL, or if 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:

Be cautious when using custom fields with a closed system. Users in the Custom Fields Beta Users group may be able to view the names of other members in the group and grant folder access to them.

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.

Homepage and Thumbnails Beta

New home page with curated content.

Selecting this option will change what people see when they log in to Looker.

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.

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.

New Dashboard Experience

New in Looker 6.24, you can enable the New Dashboard Experience Labs feature.

The New Dashboard Experience Labs feature allows users to create and view dashboards (beta), which have an updated look, customizable user-friendly filters, and a new editing flow. Turning this feature on will not impact existing dashboards. The Dashboards (Beta) documentation page provides more information.

Trend Lines in Visualizations

Enables the addition of trend lines to Cartesian charts.

This feature enhances the visualization options available for column, bar, line, area, and scatter charts using a variety of regressions.