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Labs

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 on the Labs page in the General section of the Admin menu. 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.

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.

Extension Framework

The Extension Framework switch enables the integration of web applications built using Looker components and deployed through the Looker Marketplace. In Looker 7.8, the Data Dictionary extension is available for installation, and requires this Labs feature to be enabled. You must also enable the Marketplace Labs feature to use the Data Dictionary extension.

Marketplace

The Looker Marketplace is a central location for finding, deploying, and managing any type of Looker content, such as Looker Blocks, applications, visualizations, and plug-ins. You must also enable the Local Project Import Labs feature to install packages from the Marketplace.

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 should be sure they have installed the latest version of the Chromium renderer.

SQL Runner Vis

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

System Activity Model

Allows admins and users with the see_system_activity permission to use the new system__activity model and dashboards to view and explore the Looker internal database. This new model is intended as an enhanced future replacement for the i__looker model and legacy Usage panel. Queries running on this model rely on the same resources as the Looker application. To avoid impacting the performance of the application, we have restricted the number of system activity queries that can be run concurrently for the beta version.

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 the link 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

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 not supported by dashboards (beta).

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.

Looker API CORS

Allows browser-based Web applications to call the Looker API across domain boundaries using the CORS (Cross Origin Resource Sharing) protocol. Each Web application must be registered with the Looker instance and enabled by a Looker admin. Disabling this feature immediately blocks all cross-domain web requests to the Looker API.

New Dashboard Experience

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 Viewing Dashboards (Beta) documentation page provides more information.

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. 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.

Object Browser

Enables the Object Browser panel within the IDE, where developers can view the objects and object hierarchies in a LookML project.

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.

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