Looker lets you organize visualizations onto dashboards, combining tables and charts in useful and interesting layouts. This tutorial teaches you how to use the Looker user interface to create a new dashboard and populate it with visualizations.
A dashboard is essentially a collection of visualizations of queries, displayed all on one page. You can add filters to make the dashboard interactive and rearrange its tiles. After you’ve configured a dashboard to your liking, you can share it with your team. You can create as many dashboards as you like and can tailor each dashboard to the specific needs of the users.
From the perspective of creating dashboards, there are three general types of tiles:
- Query tiles
- Look-linked tiles
- Text tiles
You can explore or use a Look to get the query for a query-based tile.
Either way, the query of the query tile belongs to the dashboard. Even if you use an existing Look to create a query tile, the Look is only used during the creation of the query tile. The tile is unaffected by any later changes to that Look. The query tile will still exist independently on the dashboard even if the Look is deleted.
When possible, use a query tile to avoid cluttering up your Folders with unnecessary Looks.
The query for a Look-linked tile is linked to a Look. That Look is used when creating the tile and every time the dashboard is refreshed. A Look-linked tile is a good choice if you want to create, change, and test a query in one place but use it in multiple dashboards.
The Look and the dashboard must be in the same Folder. If the Look is changed, the changes to the Look will show in your dashboard. If the Look is deleted, the dashboard will show an error for this tile.
A text tile does not have a query. You can use text tiles to add headers and text to your dashboards. Often text tiles are used to make visual sections on a dashboard or add descriptions as needed.
You can specify one or more of these choices: a title, subtitle, or body text.
The body text can use a subset of the Markdown markup language. See the Using Markdown in Text Tiles documentation page for more information about which Markdown syntax is supported in the text tile body. You can also use the Markdown toolbar, located at the top of the Body box.
There are several ways to start the creation of a dashboard:
- Start from a saved Look, then add its query to a new dashboard as either a query tile or as a Look-linked tile.
- Start from a query on the Explore page, then add its query as a query tile on a new dashboard.
Think about the number and complexity of elements that you add to a dashboard. More elements require more browser resources, which increases dashboard rendering time. If rendering becomes an issue, consider creating multiple dashboards with fewer elements.
Starting with a Saved Look
If you have already found and are viewing a saved Look, you can add its visualization to an existing or new dashboard. To add your visualization:
- Open your Look.
- In the upper right, click the gear menu.
- Choose Save to Dashboard.
- To create a new dashboard, click New Dashboard and name your dashboard in the pop-up window. (Alternatively, you could choose an existing dashboard.)
- To add a query tile, click Save to Dashboard to add a query tile using the same query as your Look. This is often the best choice. This option means that your dashboard will not be dependent on the Look. Changes to the Look will not affect the tile in your dashboard. If the Look is deleted, your query tile will still exist on your dashboard.
- To add a Look-linked tile, click Add Look to Dashboard. This is a good choice if you want to create, change, and test a query in one place but use it in multiple dashboards. This option is not available if the Look and the dashboard are in different Folders. If the Look is changed, the changes will show in your dashboard. If the original Look is deleted, the dashboard tile based on that Look will display an error.
Starting with an Explore Query
You can also add an Explore to an existing or new dashboard by selecting Save to Dashboard:
- In the upper right, click the gear menu.
- Choose Save to Dashboard.
- Click on Personal to save to your Personal Folder.
- Give your new tile a title.
- To create a new dashboard, click New Dashboard and name your dashboard in the popup window. (Alternatively, you could navigate to and choose an existing dashboard.)
- Click Save to Dashboard.
Adding Tiles and Text to a Dashboard
To make permanent changes to your dashboard, you must put the dashboard in edit mode. This helps to prevent unintentional changes when a user is interacting with a dashboard. To enter edit mode, click the Edit button in the upper right of the dashboard:
Adding Query Tiles to a Dashboard
A query tile is based on an independent query, one that is not linked to a Look. You can add a query tile to a blank dashboard (described above) or edit an existing dashboard to add additional query tiles to the dashboard.
You can create a query tile’s query by:
- Exploring to create a new query or
- Copying the query from an existing Look. In a query tile, your dashboard will not be dependent on the Look. Any future changes to the Look will not affect the tile in your dashboard. If the Look is deleted, your query tile will still exist on your dashboard.
First, click New Tile in the dashboard toolbar:
After you click New Tile, Looker displays a menu of Explores. Choose an Explore to build your query:
Looker opens the Explore window to let you build your query:
- Give your query a name.
- Select the fields and filters for your query.
- Configure your visualization options.
- Once you have set up your query, click Run.
- Click Save to save the query as a tile on your dashboard.
Looker adds your new tile to the bottom of the dashboard and automatically sizes the tile, but you can move and resize the tile however you like. You can also edit the tile after you’ve created it to adjust the name of the tile, the visualization, or the underlying query.
Adding Look-Linked Tiles to a Dashboard
You can add Look-linked tiles to a dashboard while editing the dashboard.
First, click Looks in the dashboard toolbar:
Looker displays a window where you can manage the Looks that are already on the dashboard and add new Looks from the dashboard’s space:
In order to add a new Look, click Add to the right of the Look’s name. If you’d like to remove a Look that already exists inside the dashboard, click Remove.
Click Update Dashboard to save any changes you made from this window.
Looker adds your new tile to the bottom of the dashboard and automatically sizes the tile, but you can move and resize the tile however you like.
Adding Dashboard Headers and Text
You can add headers and text to your dashboards to split up information or provide descriptions where needed by clicking Text in the dashboard toolbar:
This will bring up a window where you can add a title, subtitle, and body. All of these elements are optional, providing some freedom about what type of text is used.
Some HTML, including links and images, is supported in the titles and subtitles. In addition, a subset of the Markdown markup language is supported in the body text. See the Using Markdown in Text Tiles documentation page for more information about which Markdown syntax is supported in the text tile body. You can also use the Markdown toolbar, located at the top of the Body box. Hover over each icon in the Markdown toolbar to see what format it creates.
Once you save, you will see your header/text tile appear at the bottom of the dashboard. It can then be moved and re-sized like any other tile to suit your needs.
Now that you know how to create dashboards, see the next tutorial to learn how to update a dashboard and edit dashboard settings.