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How a project works in Looker

In Looker, a project is a collection of files that describe the objects, connections, and user interface elements that will be used to carry out SQL queries for your Looker users. At the most basic level, these files describe how your database tables relate to each other and how Looker should interpret them. They may also include LookML parameters that define or change the options presented to your users in Looker’s UI.

Parts of a project

The main kinds of files in a project are called view files and model files.

A view corresponds to a database table or a derived table. Here a developer will define a list of fields from those tables that should appear in the UI for users to build their queries from.

A model specifies a connection to a single database. This is also where a developer will define the model’s Explores, as explained below.

In Looker, Explore refers to two closely related things. explore (which you’ll see in code font throughout our documentation) is a LookML parameter used within a model file to define query options. An Explore (capitalized throughout our documentation) is also an interactive page in Looker where users can build SQL queries by selecting fields, applying filters, and choosing from other options that have been established in the project’s files.

In addition to models and views, a project can have other types of files related to things like built-in dashboards, documentation, localization, and more. For more information, see the Understanding other project files documentation page.

These files together make up one project. If you are using Git for version control, then typically each project is backed up by its own Git repository.

What users see

How the project is set up, and the specific contents of its files, will determine what the users see and how they can interact with Looker.

As of Looker 21.12, if your admin has enabled the Enhanced Navigation Labs feature, you can access Explores and view a list of Explores by selecting the Explore option in the new enhanced left navigation panel.

  1. The Explore menu is organized by model names. Under each model name is a list of available Explores defined in that model.
  2. Users can search the menu if they know the name of the Explore that they want.
  3. Developers can include descriptions of the Explores, which users can view on hover. This user is selecting an Explore called Order Items within a model called eCommerce.
  4. The field picker pane is organized by view names. Under each view name is a list of available fields from the tables included in that view. Most views will show both dimensions and measures. This user is selecting a Month dimension from within a Returned Date dimension group, which was defined in the view file.
  5. This user is selecting multiple measures on which to base their query.
  6. Users can also apply options like filters and pivots in the field picker pane.
  7. They can then refine the terms of their query.
  8. They can also choose a visualization type to apply to their query results.
  9. Running this Explore generates a SQL query that returns both a data table and a visualization of the total sale price and total gross margin of the returned orders from the past year.