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Getting Started with the Looker API

The Looker API is a secure, “RESTful” application programming interface for managing your Looker instance, and fetching data through the Looker data platform. With the Looker API you can write applications or automation scripts to provision new Looker user accounts, run queries, schedule reports, etc. Just about anything you can do in the Looker application you can do via the Looker API.

Looker API Port and Path

The Looker API is implemented by your Looker instance. The default port for API requests is port 19999. This port number can be changed in your Looker configuration. If the default port doesn’t respond, check with your Looker admin. All Looker API endpoints require an HTTPS connection.

Here’s what a Looker API URL looks like with the default port:
https://<your-looker-host-name>:19999/api/3.1/user

Client SDKs

You can use the Looker API with any programming language or application environment that can make HTTPS requests and process JSON responses. You can construct Looker API HTTPS requests manually using curl (or equivalent), the Looker Ruby SDK, or by generating a client SDK library for your language of choice. We recommend using a SDK because it takes care of the details of authentication and HTTPS requests for you, so that you can call the Looker API using simple function calls.

You’ll find SDK details on our Looker API SDKs page.

Authentication

Looker authenticates API requests using an OAuth 2.0 bearer access token in the HTTP authorization header of the request. All Looker API endpoints require a secure HTTPS connection so that the access token will be secure in transit.

The steps for achieving this depend upon whether or not you are using a SDK. Detailed instructions can be found on our Looker API Authentication page.

Interactive API Documentation and Explorer

As of Looker 6.12, API 3.0 is considered “legacy,” meaning that Looker does not plan to make any further changes to API 3.0 endpoints or data types. See this Help Center article for a list of changes between API 3.0 and API 3.1. See the API Versioning documentation page for guidelines on migrating application code to use a new Looker API version.

In addition to the API reference in our online documentation, Looker has interactive API documentation on the Looker instance. This local page always reflects the exact state of the Looker API on your Looker instance, which is generated from the code running in your Looker instance.

The default port and URL to reach your Looker instance’s API docs is https://<your-looker-host-name>:19999/api-docs/index.html. If the default URL doesn’t respond, check with your Looker admin to get the correct URL for your Looker installation.

If you are a Looker admin, you can also access the interactive API documentation by clicking the View API Docs link on Looker’s API Admin page, described on this documentation page.

Here’s how to use the interactive API documentation:

  1. At the top of the page, fill in the Client ID and Client Secret fields. The client ID and client secret are part of an API3 key that is specific to each Looker user. Looker admins can generate an API3 key in the Edit User page, as described here. If your Looker instance requires API login to view API documents, you must enter your client ID and client secret, then click Log In in order to see the API documentation. For all Looker instances, you must enter your client ID and client secret in order to issue commands using the interactive API documentation pages.
  2. Use the drop-down menu in the upper right of the page to choose a version of the API: The 3.1 - current version or the 3.0 - legacy version. Click Reload to update the page with the selected version. Once you click on an endpoint, you will see the selected API version included in the browser URL for easy bookmarking and linking.
  3. In the upper right of the page, select how commands are displayed on the page:
    • HTTP: Show API commands by path, such as /queries/{query_id}/run/{result_format}. The HTTP version is used to call the API via direct HTTP (or more likely HTTPS) calls.
    • SDK: Show API commands by function name, such as run_query(query_id, result_format. The SDK version is used to call the API from a library in your client code.

The interactive API documentation combines a reference with a browser-based, interactive API Explorer. This is a way to become familiar with the Looker API without having to create a programming project and write supporting code. For each Looker API endpoint you can fill in parameters, click the Try it out button, and immediately see the request URL for the values you enter and the results of the API call. You have to be logged into the API with your API3 credentials in order to run API commands against the Looker instance.

Be careful with the commands you issue on this page. The Try it out button actually invokes Looker API endpoints and applies operations to your Looker instance. If you delete an object or a user via the API, the object or user will be deleted from your Looker instance.

Versioning

API stability is an important consideration when building applications. In order to help you understand which endpoints may be changed in the future, and which should remain stable, we mark certain endpoints as being in beta. For more details see our Looker API Versioning page.

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