A New Look for Looker : Cross-Filtering, Interactive Dashboards, Aggregate Persistence and a New Data Visualization Marketplace

Looker’s front-end features have had a serious overhaul over the past year, adding a whole new dashboard user experience along with a range of new data visualization types available through a marketplace.

Mark Rittman

One of our most popular services is helping Looker customers update and refresh their Looker dashboards, especially if they’ve been using Looker for a while now and the team who put it all together has since moved on.

Back when Looker first came out it’s fair to say that it was back-end features such as direct SQL querying of column-store cloud data warehouses together with LookML that got the product noticed, not its data visualization and dashboarding features which lagged well behind desktop BI tools such as Tableau and Qlikview.

What many customers don’t realise though is that Looker’s front-end features have had a serious overhaul over the past year, adding a whole new dashboard user experience along with a range of new data visualization types available through a marketplace.

Let’s start though with the new dashboard experience which officially is an “experimental feature” but has been available in preview for a while now, presumably it’ll get an official release at the Looker Join remote keynote later this year. To enable the new dashboard experience you’ll need an admin to first turn the feature on globally using the Admin > Labs > Experimental Features settings page and then enable individual dashboards using the Upgrade to Dashboards (Beta) dashboard menu item, as shown below.

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The New Dashboard Experience comes with a set of new filter types including radio buttons, tag lists, checkboxes and drop-down menus all of which can be displayed in-line, as pop-ups or hidden behind a “more” option, a set of features we’ve recently added to our main web campaign analysis dashboard as shown below.

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Another new feature just added to the Labs feature list is Cross-Filtering. Again this has to be enabled by an admin and then individually for each dashboard, and make sure you read the docs around restrictions in this initial preview release, but once enabled you can click on segments within charts on your dashboard to filter all of the other charts by the value you’ve clicked on, as shown in the video below.

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Now that you’re starting to query Looker interactively, slicing dicing and filtering what can be seriously big datasets hosted in Google BigQuery, Snowflake or AWS Athena you might also want to start thinking about the aggregate persistence feature that’s also been introduced recently – contact us if so as we’ve been using it since it’s beta release last year.

As well as new dashboarding features there’s a new data visualization plug-in Looker Marketplace that again, needs enabling by an admin as it’s still a beta feature under active development. The marketplace option we’re interested in is the Plug-ins one, shown below.

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Once enabled the Marketplace gives you access to a range of new visualization types such as the Sankey Visualization, used in the example below to help us explore the journeys visitors to our website make after clicking on one of our marketing campaign links.

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A variation on this is the Collapsable Tree Visualization type that lets you interactively explore the nodes in a network, something we use to explore and understand the web pages visitors to our site have shown interest in.

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The Sunburst Chart Visualization is a visually appealing way to showcase hierarchical data structures, or the steps in a visitor event journey as we’ve used it for in the example below.

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And … dashboard gauges come to Looker with the Radial Gauge Visualization, featuring tons of options around targets, fill types and value presentation.

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If you’re looking to refresh your Looker dashboards, add some of these new features and boost adoption of Looker within your organization, book in a call using this link and we’d be pleased to help.

All of our team are Certified Looker Developers and we’ve been beta testing these and other features for some time now, we’d love to share our learnings and see if we can help upgrade your Looker dashboard experience too!