Working with User-defined Dashboards

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  • This tutorial teaches you how to use dashboards to explore new data, use filters on your dashboards to display only the data you want, and download or deliver your dashboards.

    Exploring and Refreshing Dashboard Data

    Looker dashboards aren’t static pictures of data from a specific time. Looker fills dashboards using data from your live database when you load the page.

    If you’ve already loaded a dashboard and want to get fresh data, click the gear icon in the upper right and select Clear Cache & Refresh to rerun the queries for all elements on the dashboard. If you want to refresh a specific dashboard element, hover over a tile, click the triple dot icon, and choose Clear Cache & Refresh.

    It’s best practice not to refresh an entire dashboard unless you truly need fresh data for all tiles, because it places an unnecessary load on your database.

    Dashboards are also starting points for further exploration. You can click the title of a tile to explore its underlying data, or you can hover over the tile, click the triple dot icon, and then choose Explore From Here. Once you arrive at the Explore page you can continue to adjust the query for your particular interest.

    Adding Dashboard Filters a User Can Change

    Filters can be added to a dashboard so that users can narrow the dashboard’s results to the data they are interested in. Adding a filter consists of 2 major steps:

    1. Create the filter itself, which is what the user will interact with.
    2. Decide which dashboard tiles should “listen” to that filter. If you don’t actively do this, a tile will simply ignore the filter.

    To get started, make sure the dashboard is in edit mode and then click Filters in the upper left:

    This will bring up the dashboard filters dialog:

    Follow these instructions to add a filter to the dashboard:

    1. Click New Filter to create a new filter. New filters show up on the left hand side of the filters pop-up. You can drag and drop the filters to control the order in which they appear on the dashboard.
    2. Give your filter a name.
    3. Choose the type of filter you want to create. You are able to create a “date”, “string”, “number” or “field” filter. The “date”, “string”, and “number” type let the user enter any value they like of that type. The “field” type lets you choose a specific LookML field from which Looker will create suggestions for the user.
    4. Add a default value if desired. This value will be suggested to the user when they load the dashboard, but they can change it if they like. You can choose a basic default value from the drop-down options, or create a more complex default value based on an advanced match, as explained here.
    5. Decide what tiles the filter should be applied to and turn them on. Then, choose the LookML field to which the value of the filter will be applied.
    6. Decide which other filters the filter should be applied to and turn them on, as described in the following section. If you want to use this feature, you’ll need to save your new filters first.
    7. Decide whether the user should be able to select only a single filter value or multiple filter values, as described in this section.

    Faceted Filters

    Dashboard filters of the “field” type can be applied to other “field” filters. For example, you might have an “Airport State” filter and an “Airport Name” filter. One thing you may want to do is update the “Airport Name” filter based on the “Airport State” filter:

    By doing so, only the airports that are within the chosen state will be suggested to the user:

    Customize Filter to Limit the Number of Values

    By default, a user can select multiple values for a dashboard filter. You can choose to limit users to a single filter value:

    1. Click on the filter in the Add/Edit Dashboard Filters window.
    2. Click on the Customize Filter tab.
    3. Set the Allow multiple filter values to OFF or ON.
    4. Click Save.

    When Allow multiple filter values is ON, the user has the option to add additional values for a filter:

    When Allow multiple filter values is OFF, there is no option to add a second value for the filter, and the filter’s default value can be either “is equal to”, “is on the day” (for dates), or “matches a user attribute”:

    For location fields, the dashboard filter cannot be set to Allow multiple filter values OFF.

    Editing Tiles

    When in edit mode, you can also make changes to a dashboard’s individual tiles.

    Editing a Look

    You can edit the underlying Look of a tile directly from a dashboard. First, make sure the dashboard is in edit mode and then click the Edit Look button in the tile toolbar:

    Looker then displays an Explore window for that Look, letting you change and save it:

    If you save changes to a Look, it will affect every dashboard where that Look is used.

    Adding a Note to a Tile

    To add a note to a tile, make sure the dashboard is in edit mode and then click the Add Note button in the tile toolbar:

    Looker shows the following window, letting you enter the note text and select a couple of display options:

    1. Enter the text you want to show on the tile.
    2. Select whether to have the text appear at the top of the tile, the bottom of the tile, or as hover text that appears over a question mark icon that is added to the tile.
    3. Leaving this box unchecked causes the text to be centered in the tile, and to only show the beginning portion of the note with an icon to expand the full text. Checking this box will cause the entire note to appear, justified to the left side of the tile.
    4. Save your changes.

    Editing Applied Filters

    To set which filters applied to a tile, make sure the dashboard is in edit mode and then click the Edit Applied Filters button in the tile toolbar:

    From this interface, you can select which filters should be applied to the tile, and you can change the field that a filter is based upon for this tile:

    Editing Dashboard Settings

    To edit the settings for a dashboard, make sure the dashboard is in edit mode and then click Settings in the upper left:

    Several settings can be adjusted from this interface:


    The Title that you assign in this interface will be displayed both at the top of the Dashboard, and in the Space that the Dashboard is saved into.


    The Description can be any text you want. The description appears below dashboards on the Spaces page, and is also used as help text if you are using the Lookerbot Slack integration.


    This option will only be available if you imported your dashboard from LookML.

    Under the Layout drop-down menu, drag must be enabled in order to drag and drop tiles. A message will prompt this change if the Dashboard has recently been imported from a LookML dashboard. Any dashboard created through the UI is already in drag layout.

    Run On Load

    If Run On Load is set to On, each element on the Dashboard will automatically run when the page is first loaded. If Run On Load is set to Off, each element will show up when the page loads, but will not display any information until the Run button is pressed.

    Dashboard Auto Refresh

    If the Dashboard will be on display, it might make sense to refresh the data regularly to ensure up-to-date statistics. To do this, toggle Dashboard Auto Refresh to On, then select how frequently you would like the entire dashboard to be reloaded.

    Caution: Frequent dashboard updates, especially on large dashboards, can place a significant strain on some database systems. You may wish to discuss this consideration with one of your Looker Admins.


    If you only want some elements to refresh, instead of all of them, you can toggle Refresh to On next to each element and define its refresh time.

    Configuring a Dashboard Time Zone

    If your admin has enabled the User Specific Time Zone setting, you can use the time zone drop-down menu to specify the time zone in which a dashboard is run:

    You can choose one of the following options:

    • Each Tile’s Time Zone to have all tiles run in the time zone in which they were saved.
    • Viewer Time Zone to have all tiles run in your user’s dashboard setting.
    • Any of the time zones listed in the drop-down to have all tiles run in that time zone.

    Scheduling Dashboard Data Delivery

    Looker lets you schedule periodic delivery of your dashboard via email or other methods. Click here for information on scheduling dashboards.

    Downloading a Dashboard

    If your administrator has enabled the Dashboard PDFs and Scheduled Visualizations lab feature, you can download your dashboard in PDF format:

    1. Click the gear icon in the upper right-hand corner of the page.
    2. Select Download as PDF.
    3. You can change the filename in the Filename box.
    4. Click Download.
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