Changing the Explore Menu and Field Picker

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This page provides an overview of LookML parameters that modify the appearance of the Looker Explore menu or Field Picker. Each parameter listed has a short description of its function, an example that shows the effect of adding that parameter, and a link to the reference page for that parameter.

Making Explores User-friendly

Use this page to make your data model more intuitive to your users by giving fields user-friendly names, pop-up descriptions, grouping various fields together, and other techniques. Here are some questions that can help:

  • Who will be using the data?
  • How will they be using it?
  • What terminology do they use already?
  • How can you make their job easier?
  • Where would they logically look for something?
  • Are there any natural groups in the dimensions and measures?
  • Are there any fields or even views that will be just clutter to them and should be hidden?

Using the answers, try to:

  • Rename data jargon into business user terminology. A couple of common terms to consider renaming would be changing “Counts” to “Number of” and “Sum” to “Total”. If you aren’t sure which words are jargon, work with a business user to build out some common reports and see what words they use to describe what they are looking for.
  • Try to not have too many duplicates. For example, in a database there are often many “created dates”. As an analyst it might be clear which date you would use, but as a business user it would be helpful to have either more context or only one option.
  • Add explicit descriptions. If you build a dimension or measure, add a description about how it is calculated, where the source is from and/or give advice about how to use it. By anticipating the questions a business user may have and then writing a description, you will save everyone time.
  • Start small, and then expand the options. You don’t have to create all of the possible explores, dimensions or measures immediately — sometimes fewer options are better as users can see what’s important. Or, if those explores and fields are already created, you can hide some of them as discussed below for explores or fields. You can expose the most important ones and then continue to build more functionality as your business users become more confident with data exploration.

Although not discussed on this page, another technique is to ceate conventions and consistency in the way you expose data. Use standard value formats or custom value formats such as including currency symbols, percentages, and decimal precision to help make everything human readable.

Explore Name and Menu

This section describes the default behavior for an explore’s name and appearance on the Explore menu, then describes the LookML parameters that let you change that behavior:

Default Behavior

By default, the Explore menu is organized by model names, which are determined by the name of the model files. The name of the model is formatted — underscores are changed to spaces and each word is capitalized. Under each model name is a list of the explores defined in that model file.

The name of each explore in the menu is based on the corresponding explore parameter in the model file. The name of the explore is formatted — underscores are changed to spaces and each word is capitalized. The explore names are also shown as the Explore title above the Field Picker:

For more information about model files, see Understanding Model and View Files. For more information about defining explores, see the explore parameter page.

label (Model)

label renames a model in the Explore menu without changing how it’s referenced in LookML.

When you change the label of a model, only the Explore menu is affected. The way that the model should be referenced in LookML and Admin settings goes unchanged.

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For more information, see this parameter’s reference page.

description (Explore)

An explore’s description parameter lets you add a description of an Explore to the UI, so users can get additional information while creating reports.

If description is used, users can see the description by hovering over the information icon, next to the explore name at the top of the Field Picker. Users can also use the same information icon in the dropdown list of explores. If you do not explicitly add a description to an explore, no description will be shown.

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For more information, see this parameter’s reference page.

hidden (Explore)

An explore’s hidden parameter hides an explore from the Explore menu. By default, hidden is off and the explore will be displayed.

hidden does not hide LookML or prevent access to an explore via the URL. Depending upon permissions, some business users are able to see LookML. Even if an explore is hidden from the Explore menu, such business users will be able to see its existence in the LookML.

Additionally, a business user would be able to gain access to the explore if they were savvy enough to manually modify the URL.

For these reasons, hidden is not meant as a security feature, but rather as a presentation feature.

It may initially seem odd to create an explore and then prevent business users from accessing it. The most common use case for hidden is to create explores that are only used to populate specific dashboard tiles, but are otherwise uninteresting for exploration.

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For more information, see this parameter’s reference page.

label (Explore)

An explore’s label parameter renames an explore in the Explore menu and on the Explore page.

If you do not explicitly add a label to an explore definition, the label defaults to the name of the explore, but nicely formatted. Underscores are changed to spaces, and each word is capitalized.

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For more information, see this parameter’s reference page.

group_label (Explore)

Use an explore’s group_label parameter to change the default organization of the Explore menu. The group_label parameter specifies the label to use as a heading in the Explore menu for this explore.

Instead of each explore being listed under its model’s name, you can list an explore under a new group label or under another model’s name. Adding the same group_label to multiple explores will list all of those explores under the same heading in the Explore menu. You can use group_label to group explores together even if they are defined in different projects

When you change the group_label of an explore, this only affects the explore’s heading in the Explore menu. To change the display name of the explore itself, use the label parameter.

The way that fields should be referenced in the LookML goes unchanged. The way that fields will appear within the Explore page’s UI is also unchanged.

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LookML

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For more information, see this parameter’s reference page.

Field Picker Display Overview

This section describes LookML parameters that let you change the appearance of the Field Picker, including the following sections:

Field Picker Default Behavior

By default, the Field Picker is organized into views using the name of each view specified in the LookML view parameter. The view’s fields are grouped under that view in the Field Picker, named according to their corresponding LookML parameters. The type of field (dimension, dimension group, measure, filter field, and parameter field) determines where the field shows within the view.

This example shows how the names of a view, dimension, dimension group, and measure show by default:

This example shows how the names of a filter field and a parameter field show by default:

If you change the name of a field, the Field Picker adapts to the new name but you might want to add an alias parameter to the field. That parameter provides alternative names for a field that might appear in the URL for a query. It can be useful in cases when field names in a model change, but some people have shared links to data and you want to keep those pre-existing URLs to queries functioning.

View Names in Field Picker

This section how you can change the way a view is shown in the Field Picker, using the following parameters:

view_label (Explore)

Use an explore’s view_label parameter if you want to change the changes the way that the group of fields from an explore’s base view will be labeled in the Field Picker. When you specify the view_label of an explore, only that view’s label in the Field Picker is affected. The way that the explore appears in the Explore menu, and the way that fields should be referenced in the LookML are both unchanged.

Sometimes this is used to add an underscore in front of the view name so that it sorts alphabetically to be the top view in the Field Picker. Alternatively, you can use it if you need more than one view for modeling purposes, but the views represent the same entity as far as business users are concerned. For example, you might have a customer view and customer_facts view, and want them to retain those names for modeling purposes. However, it might make sense for both of them to appear as Customer to business users.

This parameter is similar to view_label (Join) but affects the explore’s base view instead of the joined views. Unlike label for a view, this parameter only affects the base view in that explore.

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For more information, see this parameter’s reference page.

view_label (Join)

A join’s view_label parameter changes the way that a group of fields from a joined view will be labeled in the Field Picker. If you do not explicitly add a view_label to a join, the view_label defaults to the name of the join.

This parameter is similar to view_label (Explore) but affects the explore’s joined views instead of the base view. Unlike label for a view, this parameter only affects the view when displayed in that explore.

Typically view_label is used when you need more than one view for modeling purposes, but two or more of those views represent the same entity to your business users. For example, you might have a customer view and customer_facts view, and want them to retain those names for modeling purposes. However, it might make sense for both of them to appear as Customer to business users.

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LookML

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For more information, see this parameter’s reference page.

label (View)

The view’s label parameter renames a view in the Field Picker. If not specified, the label defaults to the name of the view.

Unlike view_label for a join and view_label for an Explore, this parameter affects all explores that use the view.

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LookML

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For more information, see this parameter’s reference page.

Field Organization in Field Picker

This section describes the following LookML parameters let you organize how individual fields appear in the Field Picker:

view_label (Field)

If you want a field to appear in a different view’s list of fields or under an arbitrary label, use the field’s view_label. This parameter lets you change how a view name appears in the Field Picker and which fields will appear within a view. If not specified, the field appears under the label for the view in which it is defined.

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For more information, see this parameter’s reference page.

group_label (Field)

The group_label parameter lets you combine fields together in a common dropdown list within a view in the Field Picker.

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LookML

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For more information, see this parameter’s reference page.

Field Listings in Field Picker

This section describes the following LookML parameters that let you change the appearance of individual fields in the Field Picker:

description (Field)

You can add a description to any field. The user can see this description in multiple places.

In the Field Picker, Looker displays this description if a user hovers over the help link, which is to the right of the field name. For a dimension group, Looker displays the description only once for the entire group, and not for each timeframe dimension within the group.

In addition, the description is displayed when the user hovers over the column name in a table or table chart visualization in an Explore page, dashboard, or Look.

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LookML

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For more information, see this parameter’s reference page.

hidden (Field)

By default, fields specified in a view will be displayed in the Field Picker. The field’s hidden parameter hides a field in the Field Picker.

Hidden fields can still be accessed in the UI if they are manually added to the URL and will show up in some Looker windows. Therefore, think of hidden as a way to keep the Field Picker clean, and not as a security feature.

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LookML

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For more information, see this parameter’s reference page.

label (Field)

A field’s label parameter lets you change how a field name will appear in the Field Picker. If not specified, the label defaults to the name of the field.

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LookML

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For more information, see this parameter’s reference page.

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