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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.

Custom Fields

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.

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 Alerts

Enables the Enhanced Alerts feature set, which includes synced alerts, test alerts, a revamped user alert management UI on the Manage Alerts user page and the Alerts management page (for Looker admins), and a new alert details page.

When this Labs feature is enabled, admins can grant users the see_alerts permission, which exposes the Alerts and Alert History pages in the Admin section, allowing users to see all alerts on a Looker instance. Users who have this permission can view, follow, edit, self-assign, and delete alerts that are owned by other users from the Alerts admin page; the permission does not grant users the ability to view, create, or follow alerts from the dashboard tile.

Disabling this Labs feature removes the see_alerts permission from the Looker permissions list but does not remove any existing roles that contain the see_alerts permission, and thus will not revoke the permission already granted to users or groups. To revoke the permission from a given user or group, admins must:

This Labs feature is disabled by default.

Enhanced Navigation

Redesigned and more performant navigation makes it faster for users to self-serve and organize the content they care about.

This Labs feature is enabled by default.

Forecasting

Enables forecasting in visualizations.

This Labs feature is disabled by default.

Improved LookML Generation

Improves the LookML generation experience and adds new features like auto-generated measures and inline comment explanations to new LookML projects that are generated from your database. This Labs feature is disabled by default.

New Explore Visualizations

When this feature is enabled, the Explore page and the dashboard tile edit window 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 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 enabled by default.

Render Long Tables

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:

Additionally, for tables with more than 20,000 cells, 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.

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.

Clear cache and refresh permission

This Labs feature is enabled by default.

When the Labs feature is enabled, the clear_cache_refresh permission determines users’ abilities to clear cache and refresh embedded and internal dashboards, legacy dashboards, dashboard tiles, Looks, and Explores.

The Labs feature enables the use of the clear_cache_refresh permission, the presence of which in a permission set allows users to clear cache and refresh.

If the Labs feature is disabled, clear cache and refresh functionality is unchanged from previous releases. Users can clear cache and refresh internal dashboards, legacy dashboards, dashboard tiles, Looks, and Explores. Embedded users can clear cache and refresh embedded Looks and Explores. Embedded users are not able to clear cache and refresh embedded dashboards, legacy dashboards, and dashboard tiles.

The clear_cache_refresh permission can be granted regardless of whether the Labs feature is enabled or disabled, but the permission will have no effect if the Labs feature is disabled.

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.

LookML Dashboard Organization

When this feature is enabled, LookML dashboards can be moved outside of the LookML dashboards folder. Rather than creating a user-defined dashboard copy of the LookML dashboard, this feature allows LookML dashboards to reside alongside user-defined dashboards in shared folders and personal folders.

Users can move a LookML dashboard out of the LookML dashboards folder only if they have the see_lookml_dashboards permission. Also, users can move the LookML dashboard only into folders for which they have the Manage Access, Edit folder access level.

The option to move LookML dashboards outside of the LookML dashboards folder will not be shown while Development Mode is on. Instead, an Import option will be shown, which converts the LookML dashboard to a user-defined dashboard.

A folder that contains both user-defined dashboards and LookML dashboards will display the LookML dashboards in a LookML Dashboard section. Users can move LookML dashboards to other locations in the same way that they can move user-defined dashboards. Users can also pin LookML dashboards to a board. However, unlike user-defined dashboards, LookML dashboards may not be copied, upgraded, renamed, scheduled, or moved to the trash from a folder.

Once a LookML dashboard has been moved out of the LookML dashboards folder, it no longer appears in that folder. To instead copy a LookML dashboard as a user-defined dashboard and save the copy outside of the LookML dashboards folder, see the Converting from LookML to user-defined dashboards documentation page.

Disabling this Labs feature returns all LookML dashboards to the LookML dashboards folder. Changing the value of a LookML dashboard’s dashboard parameter also returns it to the LookML dashboards folder.

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.

Prerender Iframes (before data loads) for custom visualizations

Reduces the custom visualization loading time by starting rendering iframe even before query data has been loaded.

This Labs feature is disabled by default.

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

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

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