Dashboard Difficult to Read When Printed

  • 22 July 2019
  • 8 replies

Hello all!

We have recently been receiving a lot of feedback from the consumers of our dashboards/visualizations about difficulting reading them when they’re printed. I was hoping someone here had encountered the same issue, and if so, could shed some light on how you’ve worked around it.

For context, we use Looker embedded into our proprietary SaaS platform. The customers that use our platform then have access to view a library of Dashboards and Looks that we’ve created for them.

Oftentimes, they will consume these dashboards by receiving them on a schedule as a PDF. And in many of those cases, they will want to print them to bring with them to meetings/presentations, and to share internally within their organization.

The concern that they’ve been bringing up is that the text on the dashboards is difficult to read. Now, the text they’re referencing is actually the text in text tiles and the titles text of visualization tiles, not in a single-value viz.

Is there any customization to be done that could improve the contrast of those colors and make them more visible?

We’re struggling to find them a solution, and right now are just repeating the same “well everything will look better in the application itself; also maybe try playing with your printer settings?” messaging and it’s not been super well received.

Any thoughts or insights from other Lookerers who’d encountered something similar would be appreciated!

8 replies

Userlevel 7
Badge +1

You could play with different table visualization types, if that’s a component— There are white/Unstyled tables that although less attractive in the browser, might be easier to read when printed. The experimental table-next visualization is about to get some improved formatting options on font size and color, too.

For other visualizations (axes and such) I don’t believe we have anything on the roadmap. I’d be interested to hear what others are doing to mitigate, or if others are also experiencing this and it’s something we should focus on internally.

Tile titles use #7F8486 and render at 20px.

Tile body text (such as axes, legends) use #666666 and render at 12px

Both on a white background, the titles do not meet WCAG 2.0 guidelines for contrast accessibility’s AA rating. The body text meets AA but does not meet AAA.

Userlevel 7
Badge +1

Thanks for providing the documentation— That’s awesome. I’ll post in this thread with any outcomes. You should definitely give Table-next a shot in the next release, when you can customize font size & color.

Userlevel 1

We have also had tons of user complaints with the new renderer as well for scheduled sends of dashboards (font sizes, page breaks, handling of merged Looks, etc). Looker has slowly fixed some of the issues at least for User-defined Dashboards (UDDs). I’m not sure if this impacts you, but I would recommend avoiding LookML dashboards until the new renderer is improved.

Depending on your requirements, you can use the API to pull the HTML version of your data which is essentially an unstyled table and then add any CSS you need and render the PDF externally.

For more complex use cases where you want to make your own graphs/etc, obviously you need to pull the json version and get it into the format that your graphing library is looking for.

After the lengthy discussion at Dashboard Printing is a Mess!, a number of support issues (i.e. the ‘Expand Tables’ option breaking somewhere in the last few releases), and the issues that the OP mentioned as far as readability, ultimately our execs decided it was worth putting resources into generating basic, readable, PDFs.

Most of our external tools for this are written in node, and I am happy to help anyone get started on this path if they need to. Hopefully the font size and color options being added to table-next can eliminate the need for such a heavy solution for some of you, so probably worth waiting for.

@maxgsoulcycle ,  I would be very interested in learning about your solution.

@maxgsoulcycle I’m interested as well. I tried to view the Dashboard Printing is a Mess! link but it says unavailable due to migration of community platforms. We’re looking to create report templates but printability is a must. If we can’t do this with Looker then I need to identify a new tool. However, being that we’ve finally trained users to use Looker, I’d really like to see if we can make this work

I think Table viz’s in NEXT are not a good solution for you here.  They tend to render very odd.  We have a bug open where the table viz in next for text values pads tons of lines of empty space on either side when it prints (when you view it in Looker that isn’t the case).


I’m not sure what the solution is to get dynamic text boxes in but I would love to be on the list whenever you guys do have something.  I think I have 2 active bugs open regarding this as well if you want to look up those bugs.