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Managing Business User Features

Various documentation pages discuss the business user features for exploring data and for finding, viewing, organizing, sharing, sending, scheduling, and downloading content. Many of those features must be enabled by a Looker admin or have Looker admin–specific or developer–specific functionality. This page organizes those business user–facing features onto one page for easy admin reference.

Finding Content

The Looker Browse menu includes two pages specific to Looker admins:

For details about these pages, see the Deleted and Unused Content for Admins documentation page.

Creating Content

This section includes admin-specific or developer-specific functionality and tips for creating dashboards, Looks, and Explores.

Using Custom Fields

Custom fields are a Labs feature so may change or be removed from the product.

Also, the custom fields feature is not a data security feature. Other users can still see the custom fields in shared queries, Looks, and dashboard tiles. They also can use Explore from here to create new queries with those fields.

Enable custom fields if you want to let some of your business users:

Enabling Custom Fields

To enable using custom fields, a Looker admin needs to:

  1. Create a group called Custom Fields Beta Users
  2. Enable the Custom Fields Labs feature
  3. Add users to the Custom Fields Beta Users group

Creating a Group Called Custom Fields Beta Users

To create the Custom Fields Beta Users group:

  1. In the Looker Admin panel, click Groups to navigate to the Admin Panel’s Groups page.
  2. Click Add Group.
  3. Create a group called Custom Fields Beta Users.
  4. Click Create.

Enabling the Custom Fields Labs Feature

To enable the Custom Fields Labs feature:

  1. In the Looker Admin panel, click Labs to navigate to the Admin Panel’s Labs page.
  2. In the Experimental section, click the Custom Fields switch to turn on the feature.

Add Users to the Custom Fields Beta Users Group

Only users in the Custom Fields Beta Users group can see the custom fields options and create custom fields. Even Looker admins do not have access unless added to the group.

To add users or groups to the Custom Fields Beta Users group:

  1. Navigate to the Admin Panel’s Groups page.
  2. Next to the Custom Fields Beta Users group, click Edit.
  3. Enter the name of a user or group that you want to add to the Custom Fields Beta Users group. Any users or groups you add should be assigned a role that has the create_table_calculations permission.
  4. Click Add.

Users added to the Custom Fields Beta Users group will no longer see the Calculations button to create table calculations. Instead, they will see the Custom Fields label in the field picker. From there they can use and edit existing table calculations. They can also click New and select Table Calculation to create a new table calculation:

Custom Fields and the LookML Model

Although custom fields rely on the LookML model, they are not part of the modeling layer and do not appear in any view files. You cannot save or convert a custom field to a LookML field.

Consider using custom fields instead of LookML for fields that are only needed temporarily or only by your most sophisticated users.

You Can Create a Custom Field in SQL Runner

You can use custom fields to visualized unmodelled fields in SQL Runner, as described on the Using SQL Runner to Create Queries and Explores page.

Changing the Field Picker Choices Using LookML

To learn the various ways that a Looker developer can use LookML to create and modify the fields available in the Field Picker, see the Changing the Explore Menu and Field Picker page.

Sharing Content

This section includes admin-specific or developer-specific functionality and tips for delivering, downloading, and sharing content.

Sending, Scheduling, and Downloading Content

This section includes admin-specific or developer-specific functionality and tips for downloading, sending, and scheduling data.

Formatting JSON Deliveries and Downloads

Looker uses a dimension or measure’s LookML rendered_label rather than its field name as its rendered value when formatting simple JSON for deliveries or downloads. To continue to have Looker use the field name instead, Looker admins can enable the Legacy JSON Labels for Downloads legacy feature. For more information on Looker’s legacy features, see the Legacy Features End-of-life Schedule in the Looker Community.

Managing Sending and Scheduling

In the Admin section of Looker, admins can use the Scheduler Plans and Scheduler History pages to look up and resolve schedule issues. Admins should be careful about deleting or disabling a user who may be the owner of important scheduled deliveries, because the schedules are also deleted or disabled.

Sending Content as Recipient

You can check Run schedule as recipient to send data to multiple Looker users, each receiving the data they would see if they ran the query. This means that each user’s access filters and user attributes will be applied to the data included in each email.

For example, user A has an access filter set as users.state = 'California', and the admin schedules the following report to user A:

When Run schedule as recipient is selected, the scheduled query will apply the access filter users.state = 'California' and send the following filtered results to user A:

The Run schedule as recipient option is unavailable if an admin sender adds an email without a Looker account or if a non-admin sender schedules data to anyone other than themselves. A Looker icon next to the recipient in the Schedule dialog box indicates that the recipient is a Looker account:

Sending and Scheduling Data to Destinations that Support Streamed Results via Action Hub

Looker hosts and provides a stateless server, Action Hub, that implements Looker’s Action API and exposes popular actions.

With the Looker Action Hub you can send and schedule data from within Looker to other SaaS tools automatically. Sending or scheduling data to destinations that support streaming relies on synchronous queries running between Action Hub and Looker’s executable server, or JAR, file. For Looker-hosted instances, these sources are configured to communicate.

Users of customer-hosted instances may experience hanging queries when sending or scheduling data to destinations that support streamed results if the customer-hosted executable JAR file from Looker is not able to communicate with Looker’s Action Hub.

One solution to address this potential issue is to deploy a customer-hosted action hub. The Looker Action Hub is an open-source service so that you can contribute additional actions or host an instance of the service within your own infrastructure. Learn more about deploying Action Hub for a customer-hosted Looker instance on this documentation page.

Another solution is to ensure that the JAR file is hosted in a public server so that Looker’s Action Hub can communicate with it.

Downloading Content from Dashboard Tiles without Download Permission

Typically, a user requires a role that includes the see_user_dashboards and either the download_with_limits or download_without_limits permissions to view and download data from tiles on a dashboard. There is a condition, however, where a user can see and download data from a model to which they do not have those permissions. It occurs when the following is true:

In this case, that user can view and download data from the entire dashboard, including tiles based on models to which the user does not have permissions to view or download data.

Downloading Content in Rendered Format

Most types of downloads take the models associated with the a user’s download permissions into account when determining whether a user can download a piece of content or not. However, users can view and download data from an entire dashboard, including tiles based on models to which the user does not have permissions to view or download data, in some circumstances.

Likewise, any downloads in rendered formats only require a download permission for any model associated with the content.

Considerations for Data Formats or Destinations

Some data formats have quirks to consider when delivering or downloading content.

Rendering Emailed Images

The Easy to Read Email Images feature lets the email client determine the optimal image size for images sent or scheduled in the body of emails. If images appear distorted when delivered by email, your users’ email client may be incompatible with this feature.

Sending Large Files in Excel Format

For downloads or deliveries of large Excel files (files over 5 GB), the download or delivery screen may appear to freeze, or you may be unable to open the delivered file. Here are some conditions that can cause this behavior, and how you might fix it:

Preventing Injection of Malicious Code into CSV Files

CSV files can contain macros that can run on Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets. Macros can be used to inject malicious code into CSV files, making CSV files a possible security risk.

To remove this risk, Looker admins can request a license update that causes Looker to pad any value in a cell that could be executable code. When this is enabled, Looker will add a ' character to any cell value that begins with a special character (=, -, +, or @) when generating a CSV file. This disables all macros in Looker-generated CSV files.

Please contact your Account Manager or if you want to update your license for this feature.

Rendering Image-Based Data Formats for Sending, Scheduling, or Downloading

Looker uses Chromium to render these formats for your deliveries and downloads:

If your instance is Looker-hosted, Chromium is already installed.

If you have a customer-hosted Looker deployment, click here

To view and render these formats for your deliveries and downloads, you will need to install the Chromium renderer.

Downloading content in a rendered format may necessitate additional permissions considerations.

Storing SFTP Fingerprints

Once you’ve connected to an SFTP server from Looker at least once to deliver or download data, Looker stores a fingerprint of that SFTP server.

All SFTP fingerprints are kept in the file ~/.ssh/known-hosts on the Looker server.

If the fingerprint changes, this means that the server you are connecting to has changed the public key. This could indicate that the server was recreated or is behind a load balancer. It could also indicate that you are being targeted with a man-in-the-middle attack, where the attacker is somehow intercepting or rerouting your SSH connection to connect to a different host that could be stealing your credentials.

Public Sharing, Importing, and Embedding

To enable public access to Look URLs, including the ability to embed a Look, you must enable Public URLs in the General Settings page:

Please consider the security implications of this feature before enabling it. Although the URLs that Looker generates can’t be guessed or searched, anyone with the URL will be able to see the data. This means that anyone who receives the URL could share it with another person who was not intended to have access to your data. You should determine the privacy requirements of the data in question, evaluate your level of trust in anyone who receives a public URL, and clearly establish your expectations about whether — and, if so, how and with whom — it is to be shared.

Retrieving and Charting Data

This section includes admin-specific or developer-specific functionality and tips for retrieving and charting data.

Improving Visualizations

For a list of Looker’s native visualization types, see this documentation page. You can also install and administer custom JavaScript visualizations.

Considerations for Customer-Hosted Deployments

This section gives a quick list of features that have additional considerations for customer-hosted Looker deployments, with links to the relevant sections on this page.