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Google BigQuery Legacy SQL and Google BigQuery Standard SQL


This page explains how to set up a connection in Looker to Google BigQuery Legacy SQL or Google BigQuery Standard SQL.

The general steps for setting up a Google BigQuery Legacy SQL or Google BigQuery Standard SQL connection are:

  1. Create a service account with access to the Google project and download the JSON credentials certificate.
  2. Create a temporary dataset for storing persistent derived tables.
  3. Set up the Looker connection to your database.
  4. Test the connection.

Create a Service Account and Download the JSON Credentials Certificate

Google has documentation on creating a service account and generating a private key.

  1. Open the credentials page in the Google Cloud Platform API Manager and, if necessary, select your project:

  2. Click Create credentials and choose Service account key:

  1. Select New service account from the Service account drop-down:

  2. Fill out the form as follows:

    • Service account name: Name the account something like “Looker service account.”
    • Key type: Select JSON.
    • Role: Currently, Google BigQuery does not support custom roles on datasets. Use Google BigQuery predefined roles. Select both of the following roles:
      • BigQuery > BigQuery Job User
      • BigQuery > BigQuery Data Editor

    The form appears as follows:

  3. Click Create.


  5. After noting the download location, click CLOSE.

  6. Find the email address corresponding to the service account. You will need this to configure the Looker connection to BigQuery.

Create a Temporary Dataset for Persistent Derived Tables

  1. Open the BigQuery console and, if necessary, switch projects. Click the down arrow next to your project name and select Create new dataset:

  2. Give the dataset an ID (typically looker_scratch) and click OK:

Set Up the Looker Connection

In the Admin section of Looker, navigate to the Connections page and click New Connection. Looker displays this page:

Fill out the page as follows:

Test the Connection

Click Test These Settings to verify that the connection was set up correctly.

If you see Can connect, then press Add connection. This runs the rest of the connection tests to verify that the service account was set up correctly and with the proper roles.

Feature Support

Looker’s ability to provide some features depends on whether the database dialect can support them.

In the current Looker release, Google BigQuery Legacy SQL supports the following Looker features:

In the current Looker release, Google BigQuery Standard SQL supports the following Looker features:

Next Step

After you have connected your database to Looker, you’re ready to configure sign-in options for your users.