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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 or changes in Looker. If you would like more detail 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, simply click the ON/OFF switch.

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.

Content Validator

Adds a tool to the LookML section to validate Looks.

The Content Validator in the LookML section ensures that your Looks are valid and lets Looker developers find and replace field names within Looks. For more information about the Content Validator, see the Content Validation documentation page.

Easy to Read Email Images

Makes images representing data easier to read in emails.

The Easy to Read Email Images Labs feature lets the email client determine the optimal image size for images sent or scheduled in the body of emails. This Labs feature is on by default.

If images appear distorted when delivered by email, consider disabling this feature because the feature and your users’ email client may be incompatible.

Enhanced Rendering

Uses a new rendering engine for more feature-rich PDFs and PNGs.

Please reach out to your Looker contact before turning on this feature. If using the Sandboxed Custom Visualizations Labs feature, also turn on this feature.

For on-premises instances, click here

Your Looker admin needs to install the Chromium software on the server where Looker is running. Be sure to install Chromium version 65 or above.

If you are installing Chromium on a clustered Looker intallation, the Chromium version on each node must be fully identical. Even minor differences, such as different build numbers, can prevent enabling the Enhanced Rendering Labs feature.

If you are using a Debian 8 (jessie) Linux system, then you cannot use this feature because Debian 8 only supports up to Chromium version 57. However, Debian 9 (stretch) includes the security updates and latest features, including support for the latest Chromium version.

Run a Schedule as Each of Its Recipients

Provides an option for running schedules as each of the recipients.

This feature enables a separate run of each query per recipient, ensuring the recipient’s specific permissions and access filters are applied. Each recipient must have a Looker account.

If disabled, existing schedules configured this way will continue to run on a per-recipient basis until they are resaved.

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 ensure full functionality of downloaded content, also enable the Enhanced Rendering Labs feature.

SQL Runner Schema Search

Enables searching the SQL Runner.

In SQL Runner, search can be run across schema, table, and column names for a given connection. For more information about the SQL Runner, see the Using SQL Runner documentation page.

For BigQuery, Hive, Spark, and Impala, you cannot search across all the columns in a connection.

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.

Visual Drilling

Enables the drill overlay to select the best visualization for the dataset.

Without this feature, the drill overlay displays the data table. For more information about choosing visualization types, see the Creating Visualizations and Graphs documentation page.

Experimental Features

Experimental Labs features may or may not remain in the product, and errors may or may not be corrected. They are intended to let you know what Looker is thinking about and to get your feedback.

Custom Fields

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:

Setting up this feature is a multi-step process, click here for the instructions

To enable the Labs feature and specify which users can create and select custom fields, follow these steps:

  1. Navigate to the Admin Panel’s Labs page.
  2. Enable the Custom Fields Labs feature.
  3. Navigate to the Admin Panel’s Groups page.
  4. Create or edit the Custom Fields Beta Users group, adding any groups or users you want to allow to create custom fields. Even Looker admins do not have access unless added to this group.
  5. Verify that the users are assigned to a role that has the create_table_calculations permission.
  6. Notify these users that they will no longer see the Calculations button to create table calculations. In the Field Picker, they should expand Custom Fields. From there they can use and edit existing table calculations. They also can click New and select Table Calculation to create a new one as shown below:

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.

Don’t Revalidate Unchanged LookML

Only scans and validates changed LookML.

This feature makes most LookML validation significantly faster by only scanning LookML elements that have changed since the previous validator run.

Homepage + Spaces (Appears in Browse)

New home page with curated content.

Content includes most recent favorites, recent activity, suggested content based on other users’ activity, and an admin-curated content sidebar.

Instant Dashboards

Dashboards display previous data while new queries are run.

Dashboards display the previous run’s data while new queries are run in the background, letting information appear quickly.

Project Import

A LookML project can reference files in other Projects via a manifest file.

Project manifest files let you import files from other projects into the current project. Use the project manifest file to list the names of any other projects you want to include files from.

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.