Creating User-defined Dashboards

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Looker lets you organize visualizations onto dashboards, combining tables and charts in useful and interesting layouts. This tutorial teaches you how to use the Looker UI to create a new dashboard and populate it with visualizations. (You can also create dashboards using LookML, which is described here).

Overview

A dashboard is essentially a collection of visualizations of queries, displayed all on one page. You can add filters to make the dashboard interactive and rearrange its tiles. After you’ve configured a dashboard to your liking, you can share it with your team. You can create as many dashboards as you want, so you can tailor each dashboard to the specific needs of the people who use it.

From the perspective of creating dashboards, there are three general types of tiles:

  • Query tiles
  • Look-linked tiles
  • Text tiles

Query Tiles

You can explore or use a Look to get the query for a query-based tile.

Either way, the query of the query tile belongs to the dashboard. Even if you use an existing Look to create a query tile, the Look is only used during the creation of the query tile. The tile is unaffected by any later changes to that Look. The query tile will still exist independently on the dashboard even if the Look is moved out of the Space or deleted.

When possible, use a query tile to avoid cluttering up your Spaces with unnecessary Looks.

Look-linked Tiles

The query for a Look-linked tile is linked to a Look. That Look is used when creating the tile and every time the dashboard is refreshed.

The Look and the dashboard must be in the same Space. If the Look is moved out of the Space or deleted, the dashboard will show an error for this tile. If the Look is changed, the changes to the Look will show in your dashboard.

A Look-linked tile is a good choice if you want to create, change, and test a query in one place but use it in multiple dashboards.

Text Tiles

A text tile does not have a query. You can use text tiles to add headers and text to your dashboards. Often text tiles are used to make visual sections on a dashboard or add descriptions as needed.

You can specify one or more of these choices: a title, subtitle, or body text.

The body text can use a subset of the Markdown markup language. See this article See this article for more information about which Markdown syntax is supported in the text tile body.

Creating Dashboards

There are several ways to start the creation of a dashboard:

  • Create a blank dashboard, then add tiles (query tiles, Look-linked tiles, or text tiles)
  • Start from a saved Look, then add its query to a new dashboard as either a query tile or as a Look-linked tile.
  • Start from a query on the Explore page, then add its query as a query tile on a new dashboard

Think about the number and complexity of elements that you add to a dashboard. More elements require more browser resources, which increases dashboard rendering time. If rendering becomes an issue, consider creating multiple dashboards with fewer elements.

Starting with a Blank Dashboard

To create a blank dashboard:

  1. Click Browse.
  2. Select the Space in which you want to create your new dashboard.
  3. Click New.
  4. Select Dashboard
  5. Enter a name for your new dashboard.
  6. Click Create Dashboard.

Looker shows your new blank dashboard:

In your new dashboard, click New Tile to add a new query tile. (Alternatively you can click Add Looks to add a saved Look, or click Add Text to add headers and text).

Clicking New Tile opens a menu of Explores. Choose an Explore to build your query:

Looker then opens the Explore window:

Create your tile’s query:

  1. Give your query a name.
  2. Select the fields and filters for your query.
  3. Configure your visualization options.
  4. Once you have set up your query, click Run.
  5. Click Save to save the query as a tile on your dashboard.

Starting with a Saved Look

If you have already found and are viewing a saved Look, you can add its visualization to an existing or new dashboard. To add your visualization:

  1. Open your Look.
  2. In the upper right, click the gear menu.
  3. Choose Save to Dashboard.
  4. To create a new dashboard, click New Dashboard and name your dashboard in the popup window. (Alternatively you could choose an existing dashboard.)
  5. Then:
    • To add a query tile, click Save to Dashboard to add a query tile using the same query as your Look. This is often the best choice. This option means that your dashboard will not be dependent on the Look. Changes to the Look will not affect the tile in your dashboard. If the Look is moved out of the Space or deleted, your query tile will still exist on your dashboard.
    • To add a Look-linked tile, click Add Look to Dashboard. This is a good choice if you want to create, change, and test a query in one place but use it in multiple dashboards. This option is not available if the Look and the dashboard are in different Spaces. If the original Look is moved out of the Space or deleted, the dashboard will show an error for this tile. If the Look is changed, the changes will show in your dashboard.

Starting with an Explore Query

You can also add an explore to an existing or new dashboard by selecting Save to Dashboard:

  1. In the upper right, click the gear menu.
  2. Choose Save to Dashboard.
  3. Give your new tile a title.
  4. To create a new dashboard, click New Dashboard and name your dashboard in the popup window. (Alternatively you could navigate to and choose an existing dashboard.)
  5. Click Save to Dashboard.

Adding Tiles to a Dashboard

To make permanent changes to your dashboard, you must put the dashboard in edit mode. This helps to prevent unintentional changes when a user is interacting with a dashboard. To enter edit mode, simply click the Edit button in the upper right of the dashboard:

Adding Query Tiles to a Dashboard

A query tile is based on an independent query, one that is not linked to a Look. You can add a query tile to a blank dashboard (described above) or edit an existing dashboard to add additional query tiles to the dashboard.

You can create a query tile’s query by:

  • Exploring to create a new query or
  • Copy the query from an existing Look. In a query tile, your dashboard will not be dependent on the Look. Any future changes to the Look will not affect the tile in your dashboard. If the Look is moved out of the Space or deleted, your query tile will still exist on your dashboard.

First, click New Tile in the dashboard toolbar:

After you click New Tile, Looker displays a menu of Explores. Choose an Explore to build your query:

Looker opens the Explore window to let you build your query:

  1. Give your query a name.
  2. Select the fields and filters for your query.
  3. Configure your visualization options.
  4. Once you have set up your query, click Run.
  5. Click Save to save the query as a tile on your dashboard.

Adding Look-linked Tiles to a Dashboard

You can only add Look-linked tiles to a dashboard when the Look and the dashboard are both saved in the same Space. If you would like to add Looks from a different Space, first copy the Look into the same Space as the dashboard.

You can add Look-linked tiles to a dashboard from the Explore page (described above) or while editing a dashboard.

First, click Looks in the dashboard toolbar:

Looker displays a menu where you can manage the Looks that are already on the dashboard. and add new Looks from the dashboard’s Space:

In order to add a new Look, click Add to the right of the Look’s name. If you’d like to remove a Look that already exists inside the dashboard, click Remove.

Click Update Dashboard to save any changes you made from this menu.

Adding Dashboard Headers and Text

You can add headers and text to your dashboards to split up information more easily, or provide descriptions where needed. To do so, click Text in the dashboard toolbar:

This will bring up a window where you can add a title, subtitle, and/or body. All of these elements are optional, providing some freedom about what type of text is used. A subset of the Markdown markup language is supported in the body text. See this article for more information about which Markdown syntax is supported in the text tile body.

Once you save you will see your header/text tile appear at the bottom of the dashboard. It can then be moved and re-sized like any other tile to suit your needs:

Conclusion

Now that you know how to create dashboards, see the next tutorial to learn how to update a dashboard and edit dashboard settings.

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