At Looker we release a new version every month, chock full of new features. The majority of our customers get to take advantage of those features as soon as they’re available because we manage and upgrade their Looker instances. However, if you self-host your Looker instance or have asked to hold on upgrading because of feature deprecations it’s easy to fall behind and miss out on the latest and greatest Looker has to offer.
Why should you upgrade?
Apart from the fact that we’re constantly releasing new functionality to make the experience better there are a couple of important reasons to stay current:
Looker provides product support coverage for the Looker Instances on the latest stable and 2 previous versions and the Extended Support Release. Since we release a new version every month, 3 months without upgrading puts you outside the stable window. The latest version provides all new features and latest bug fixes.
At Looker we take security very seriously, and update our product to address any new web vulnerabilities. We try our hardest to keep supported releases as safe as possible, but staying current with Looker ensures your instance has access to the latest security patches.
Steps and Considerations When Upgrading:
1. Address the Original Need for Holding on Update
Sometimes you might have asked to prevent update for a specific functional reason. This could be a significant change in functionality that you need more time to train end users on, or something that was deprecated in a new release that is operationally critical for your business (like an API endpoint used by a script or separate application).
2. Review Release Notes
Looker release notes discuss what’s in each release, so be on the lookout for new features that your users should take advantage of and anything that may impact rollout of the new version. See the Release Highlights section for the most exciting new features and make sure to review Preparing for Release to identify things to watch out for.
3. Update any LookML parameters that have been completely removed
Enhancements to LookML include deprecations of parameters. Update your LookML to keep everything working in the new version. Specifically check the Legacy Feature End-of-Life Schedule and be sure to follow the Transition Guidelines for deprecated LookML that has been completely removed in or prior to the version you are upgrading to. NOTE: It’s best practice to update ALL deprecated LookML, since those parameters will be removed in a future release.
4. Take a Backup of Your Instance (and Restore to a Staging Environment)
Creating regular backups is strongly recommended and should be done before each update. Additionally, while not required, if you’re upgrading several versions it’s a good idea to setup a staging server where you can test the updated version before rolling it out to your entire company.
If you self-host your looker instance you can follow this guide for Creating Backups and use this guide for Restoring Backups to a new Staging Environment.
If your instance is hosted by Looker, reach out to your Looker contact to have our team take a backup and setup a Staging server for you.
5. Update the Staging Instance and Smoke Test
If you self-host your looker instance, reach out to your Looker contact to get the a link to the latest release JAR and follow the Update Instructions document to update your Staging Instance to the latest version. Be sure to check the the Installation Requirements for the latest server requirements - particularly the Java version. If you’ve enabled the Dashboards to PDF Labs Feature, be sure you have the latest required version of PhantomJS installed as well.
If your instance is hosted by Looker, reach out to your Looker contact to have our team update your Staging instance for you.
Once updated, login and test things out! Make sure your important Dashboards and Looks run without error and that there are no (new) LookML errors when you validate your model.
6. Update the Production Environment
Assuming all looks good on your Staging instance, you can go ahead and update your Production instance to the latest version following the same process you did for Staging. Be sure you’ve taken a recent backup in case you need to restore for any reason.