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Understanding Other Project Files

Looker projects can contain a variety of files. An in-depth explanation of two important ones, model and view files, appears on the Understanding Model and View Files documentation page. This page discusses the other types of files you can add to a project:

For how to access a project’s files, see this documentation page.

Dashboard Files

Dashboard files create LookML dashboards, which are stored as version-controlled files associated with the project.

Also, dragging a file with the extension .dashboard.lookml into the LookML IDE adds the file to the Dashboards section.

Looker also has user-defined dashboards, which can be created by non-developer users without using LookML. For details, refer to Building Dashboards.

Document Files

Looker document files let you write documentation or other notes about your Looker data model using GitHub-flavored markdown. This can be helpful for your users to become acquainted with how your organization uses Looker.

Creating Document Files

To add a document file:

  1. Click + next to Add Files.
  2. Click Create Document.
  3. Name the document file and press return.

Also, dragging a file with the extension .md into the LookML IDE adds the file to the Documents section.

After you create a file you can edit it by clicking Edit Source in the upper right. Then you can preview your changes by clicking Preview, or save them by clicking Save.

Viewing the Document outside the IDE

To see a document outside the IDE, which you will need to do to take advantage of the navigation features described below, choose the View Document option from the drop-down menu in the upper left:

You can distribute the URL of the resulting page to other users so that they don’t need to navigate through Looker’s developer section to reach it.

Adding a Navigation Structure to Your Document

You can add a sidebar to your document files so that users can easily see the structure of the information and navigate between documents:

To add sidebar navigation for a document, create a navigation section starting on the first line of the document. Mark the start and end of your navigation section with three dashes (---).

You can use the following parameters in the navigation section:


At the minimum, you can use navigation: true on a document to add the navigation sidebar to that document. Here’s how it looks in a markdown file:

This adds to the document a navigation sidebar with links to all of the project’s documentation pages. If you include only navigation: true in a document, the sidebar of that document lists all the project’s documentation pages in alphabetical order by file name.

Also, you might find that organizing by alphabetical file name is not ideal, or you may have some documents you don’t want to show in a page’s navigation:

If you want to change the order of files in a document’s navigation sidebar, or if you want to show only a subset of your documents in the sidebar, you can use this format:

  - document_one
  - document_two
  - document_three

So now the page will show only the files you want, and in an order that makes more sense:


By default, the sidebar displays the document’s heading (if the document begins with a heading), or the document’s file name if there is no heading in the file. You can add a title parameter at the top of a document to change how the document is displayed in navigation sidebars:

title: New Title for Users

This title will be used as the link text in the navigation sidebars of all documents, unless you specify a different label in the navigation section of document.


If you want to change the way a page is listed in a document’s navigation sidebar, you can use the document and label parameters like this:

  - document_one
  - document: document_two
    label: Customized Label for Document Two
  - section: My Section Name
  - document_three

To use the label parameter, you must add the document: before the document file name as shown in this example above. If you are not using a label for a document, do not include document: before the file name.

The label value defines how a document is shown in the document’s sidebar navigation, even if the document to which it refers has its own title parameter.

The above example looks like this in the document’s sidebar:


If you want to break the navigation sidebar into sections, you can use the section parameter like this:

  - document_one
  - document_two
  - section: My Section Name
  - document_three

The section parameter adds a section break and a text heading to the sidebar:

The text heading is not a link itself; it does not refer to any of your documentation files.

Data Files

The Data section stores JSON files that you want to use in your project. The map_layer parameter enables you to specify using the JSON file as a custom map that can then be used to plot your data in Looker. You then use the map_layer_name parameter with a dimension so that you can associate a data value (like “Paris”) with a geographic region on your custom map.

Dragging a file with the filetype extension .json, .topojson, or .geojson into the LookML IDE adds the file to the Data section. You can edit a JSON file in the LookML IDE and then click Save. For debugging, you can choose View Raw to view the file in raw format. If you have the proper extension to view JSON in your browser, you will also have the option to view the file in a Parsed format:

Project Manifest Files

Each project can have a project manifest file that specifies its dependencies and its localization settings. If you are not using dependencies or localizing your model, a project manifest file is not required. Each project can only have one manifest file.

To create a project manifest file:

  1. Verify that Development Mode is set to ON.
  2. In the IDE, click the + icon next to Add Files.
  3. Select Create Project Manifest.

This will add a Project section to the sidebar and a new file called manifest.lkml. This file details which other projects are known and usable by the current project:

Locale Strings Files

If you are localizing your data model you will need to create locale strings files for each locale you wish to localize to, including your default locale (for example, often English in the USA).

Locale strings files list key-value pairs for each label and description that you are localizing in your model. The strings file for each locale should provide that locale’s translation for each label or description. More information about creating locale strings files appears on the Localizing Your LookML Model documentation page.

If you are creating locale strings files to localize your model and would also like to take advantage of Looker’s native UI localization, you must name your .strings files using specific locale codes that can be found on this documentation page.

Other Files

Any file whose filetype is not recognized by the LookML IDE as belonging in one of the other categories. If you have defined a native derived table (NDT), for example, you would create an Explore file (explore_filename.explore.lkml) on which to base the NDT. Explore files are stored in the Other category. If you would like to move a file from the Other section to another section, click the file’s gear and rename the file to have the appropriate file type extension for that section.