Visual Drilling

What is Visual Drilling?

Visual drilling allows users to drill from one visualization into another visualization instead of a data table.

How does it work?

Looker will automatically select a visualization based on the data that will be returned from the drill. The selection mechanism is the same as on the Explore page. Certain types of query results won’t return a visualization, like those that have too many dimension values to plot on a chart.

How about an example?

Sure! Here we’re looking at a state-level map, and we want to drill in by zip codes. We select zip codes from the dropdown here:

screen shot 2016-09-12 at 4 54 39 pm

and then we show this map of those zip codes

In the past we would have shown a data table. You can toggle between the visualization and the data table using the buttons in the upper right of the modal.

Additionally, Explore From Here will launch the Explore page already seeded with this query.


Wow, this is fantastic! Been wanting to see this since the drill features were put in place.

@abbywest is there a way to format what visualization you see in the drill? Line vs. bar, etc.

Should have read your entire post, which says Looker chooses the viz by default. I guess–are there plans to allow for customization?

To give more control to our users, we’ve placed visual drilling under the Visual Drilling Labs feature in Looker 4.10. Now you can choose whether or not you’d like visual drilling to occur.

Any plans to make this feature GA? We’re hesitant to use Labs features widely without knowing if they are 1) stable and 2) going to persist.

Hi Brendan,

Visual drilling is a beta labs feature so it is expected to remain in the product. More on types of labs features here.

When visual drilling is turned off in labs, the drilling defaults to a table visualization as opposed to the most relevant visualization, so if you were to use it now and then decided to turn it off in the future it shouldn’t cause any issues.



Is there any way to format the table visualisation in the drill downs?


This post is all about how to customize drill downs and I’ve found it very helpful: More Powerful Data Drilling

In addition to listing the drill fields, you can also use the link parameter to add in sort order, row limits, pivots, etc. The post also explains how to make the drill down display any type of viz you specify.


I am very new to Looker and have same question as Abhijit Roy.

I created a line graph showing month on X axis, but when I drill down on the graph, it display as bar graph. Also, when I have a visual with 1 bar graph and 1 line graph in (i.e bar for volume and line for $ amount) , when I drill down, the result is stacked bar graph. Is there anyway to set this in the Explore mode?

I have read the document on More Powerful Data Drilling and it seemed we have to specify the format in LookML?

Thank you

Welcome, Henry :slight_smile:

The built in Visual Drilling feature automatically chooses what it thinks is the “best” visualization for the data. You can’t control what viz it picks, but you can create special custom drills using the techniques outlined in the More Powerful Data Drilling article.

You’re correct that you have to specify those in LookML, using the
{% assign vis config %} blocks of code seen in that article. It’s a little more in-depth, and they’re hardcoded, such that the end user can’t pick what visualization to see in the drill. If you’d like to see a different visualization of the drilled-in data, you can always click “Explore from Here” in the drill, which will give you full control over the new explore.