Everybody loves maps!

  • 25 February 2021
  • 10 replies

Userlevel 6
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Recently I’ve been working with more data of my favourite kind - geospatial. I realised that this portion of Looker hasn’t been given the amount of love it deserves and thought of combining my feedback in this post, as well as sending it to Pendo, hopefully enriched by other people’s feedback and ideas as well.


It might be a long post but I think it’s worth it 🙂 I’ll try to break it down.


Maps and Layers

  1. Imagine that you already have a table called countries that has GEOJSON / TOPOJSON / GEOMETRY column. It would be great to be able to build maps from the data itself rather than managing it through files. I noticed that because of this I need to maintain maps and data so that my entity’s data gets exactly the same property_name. That equals double the work.
  2. If you upload a file to your instance and want to change its name the .data.lkml will be added automatically because file change modal has the LookML double extension built-in. (UPDATE Mar 17 - if you include your extension in the name then .data.lkml is not appended, which means it will be okay)


  1. label property in map_layer definition does not show up anywhere. I expected it to be shown here:
  2. File size matters. I have ~13MB map and upon uploading it to the project, everything gets slow. Mostly because when you create a new file like a view or a model, that file is opened automatically after creation. For big files it is a problem for browsers
  3. Files are cached by Looker and changing something in the file’s contents via Looker’s UI does not always refresh it in the visualisation.


  1. The concept of multiple data layers. Let’s say I have to measures and would like to have a colour scale of the polygons for one measure and maybe circles on top of it where its size would correspond to values of another measure.
  2. Ability to use dimensions as a second layer as well. Let’s say I have regions of a country and its population and population dictates the colour of the polygon but perhaps the other categorical dimension, pivoted or not, would have impact on the map as well.
  3. Ability to change the look of labels. Sometimes opacity of the background is not enough and labels become unreadable. It would be good to have a field where we can define the colour, it would be amazing if they could be smart just like labels in other charts.
  4. property_key_label doesn’t work for me at all. I expected, when using Static Map (Regions) for that label to show up on the map, not just tooltip but that isn’t happening.
  5.  When I have to refresh the whole page, to populate new fields for example, I can see different options for some time:


    Before it settles:



Let me know if you have more items to put in the wishlist : )

10 replies

I totally agree on your points, especially: it must be possible to use multiple measures and not just one.

Userlevel 6
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@Michael is it possible to allow the author to EDIT the initial post without time constraints? I wanted to add something but realised that we can’t edit our posts after certain time has elapsed.


Just so that I don’t foget:


When I have to refresh the whole page, to populate new fields for example, I can see different options for some time:


Before it settles:


Userlevel 6
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Another thing is working with slightly bigger local files. I’m working with ~13MB and the problem is that after the upload, the file is being opened by default. This is good behaviour when you create model or view files but not data files.

Userlevel 4
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Hey  @Dawid_Nawrot, thanks for the ping about no time restrictions on editing past! There are some reasons we keep editing time boxed (largely because of how we pull data from the community). I’ll look into this a bit more and see what I can do. 

Re: feedback around maps. Thank you for consolidating there - I definitely agree there’s a lot of opportunity in this area! I know this is something Looker product team agrees with too.

Consolidating your feedback and passing that through via Pendo is exactly the right move. Like all product ideas, the more business value you can tie to your request the higher the leverage. Not to mention that by putting your ideas in Pendo, you can track what’s actually going on with the request!

Userlevel 6
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Another gem found today. Be aware of editing map files in Looker. There is some kind of cache going on there and the changes might not be detected even with your browser cache cleared and CTRL+F5. 


I uploaded a file that didn’t work. The maponly showed up with Static Map (Regions) and was flipped. I realised that I had to change the Coordinate Reference System to EPSG:4326 (WGS84), the so calld Web Pseudo Mercator projection that is used in OpenStreetsMap, which is in Looker. 

I reconverted the file but only copied and pasted the contents to existing file in Looker UI. I refreshed and refreshed, no change. Then, while also wasting support’s time I discovered I had to upload the file again and then it worked.

Userlevel 5

Maybe a bit polluting this topic, but has anyone implemented h3 cells to Looker as custom viz?

So that heatmap calculation is done on the frontend but not for rectangular shape but for the hexagon and you could adjust zoom levels?
Something like this: 



Userlevel 6
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Great topic @er1k! I thought about it a little bit. H3 JS could definitely allow us to do that. Convert the data points we have into hexagons in relation to the chosen zoom and then add a map layer on top of the usual map.

Sounds doable and it would be a cracking project to be honest..

Just adding my thoughts to this megathread, as I am seriously underwhelmed by Google’s lack of development for maps. I used these features a ton in Tableau which is highly customizable, but my company moved to Snowflake and Looker, and I’m now blindsided by the lack of creativity in Looker.

How can I get tooltips enabled on my maps? I have a list of users and their location_country mapped out, but when I hover over the visualization as I would anywhere else in Looker, I get no Tooltip.

Is there the option to change the color scheme of my maps? I’m only seeing the Red to Green scale--but thinking I would just like a light blue to dark blue scheme. Any options there?

Doesn’t seem like I can change the color of the items in the legend on the map… the default colors are the worst. This feature is available in any other visualization… why not here?

The GPS points on my map are hollow circles… visually this makes the map hard to read. I need solid dots.

Why doesn’t the legend allow me to click on/off the items in the maps like all other visualizations in Looker?

Userlevel 6
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Another interesting thing I discovered was the fact that if the connection with the map is using a textual name, which of course makes sense as end users can’t operate on IDs that mean nothing to them, we can have a problem if there are two areas of the same name.

For example, in Spain there are two municipalities of El Molar, in Catalunya, and other in Comunidad de Madrid. I can’t make the map join by id because then users would have to use ID to display data on a map. But I can’t make the name unique either.. Therefore the polygon on the map will be combined and data treated as one

Userlevel 6
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Sometimes it’s not possible to save changes if you simply change the file extension from *.json to *.topojson even though it’s still just JSON.

Suddenly I started receiving:

Can't read map layer file "file.json" from project "...".

But the file is still there, weird..