What are LookML Projects and the Developer Mode | How to Create LookML Projects?

Last updated on 04th Nov 2022, Artciles, Blog

About author

Niyati Joshi (Java Software Engineer )

Niyati Joshi is a Java Software Engineer with 5+ years of experience as a Java Specialist. She is an expert in JavaScript, HTML/CSS, SQL, Python, Looker ML, DBT, PDT Looker, Looker API, Lightdash, Snowsight, and CARTO's SQL API.

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    • In this article you will learn:
    • 1.Introduction to LookML project.
    • 2.Switching In and Out of Development Mode.
    • 3.LookML project files.
    • 4.Navigating to files.
    • 5.Creating files.
    • 6.Development Mode and Production Mode.
    • 7.Conclusion.

Introduction to LookML project:

Lookml projects:

Projects are usually created during the Looker setup. Every project represents a repository. It is the collection of a LookML files. LookML files describe relationships and interpretations between the database tables. Uses Looker for a version control. It ensures a data model collaboration between developers.

Project files:

The Looker project creates a set of generator files. It can be used as template for building a project.Every project lists its files in following categories:

Project Manifest – Lists names of the different project files within it. Here can import the other files into the current project.

Docs – Documentation files are written in a Github-flavoured Markdown.

Model – This explains an EXPLORE option and JOIN.

View – This matches the database table or derived table.

Dashboard – The LookML Dashboard explains the data and layout for a dashboard.

Data – Data files are the JSON files that specify a custom maps.


Switching In and Out of Development Mode:

The Looker data model exists in a two states: production mode and development mode:

Production mode:

In a production mode users can explore Looker data. It enables analysis and creation of content for a business users. See ML files are considered a read-only in this mode.

Development Mode :

If need to change a LookML enter it in a development mode. This mode provides a private access to a various vision of data model. Once done can merge project with a Production:

  • Using a Shortcut Ctrl+Shift+D.
  • Clicking on a Develop on the Menu and pushing a Development Mode On/Off button.

While still in development mode will see following changes:

  • The Explore section of a LookaML and Looker is loaded with a development version.
  • A development mode bar can appears at a top of window in purple.

To exit development mode one has to:

  • Use a shortcut Ctrl+Shift+DM.
  • Click Exit Development Mode on a purple banner.
  • Click on a Development Mode On/Off button.
  • A version control.

Lookers is an integrated with IDE It enables a private copy editing in the LookML files in a development mode. can be used to commit and push changes to the production. Looker automatically manages the workflow for these changes.

LookML project files:

The Looker project is the collection of a LookML files that tell Looker how to connect to a database how to query a data and how to control behavior of user interface:

Accessing project files:

To view LookML file for the project click the Develop menu and select a project name. The projects see in a Develop menu depend on the following:

Your Permissions: To view project must have development permission for at least one model in a project.

Your current mode: May see an additional entries on a Develop menu when in development mode versus production mode. For example if created a new project in a development mode that are haven’t yet put into the production it will appear in a project menu only when in a development mode.

LookML Projects

Project file type:

A LookML project can contain a following types of files. If project is not enabled for a folders in the IDE all the project files have extensions although an extensions are hidden in IDE list:

Navigating to files:

When open a LookML project Looker IDE opens a project in one of LookML files in that project:

  • If a project contains the document file named readme.md the IDE will open that file.
  • If there is a no readme.md document file IDE will open a first alphabetical document file.
  • If there is a no document file in project the IDE will open a first alphabetical model file.
  • If there is no model file in a project, the IDE will open a first charset file of any type.
  • To open separate project file click on a file name in the side panel of Looker IDE.

Creating files:

To create LookML file in a project using IDE:

  • Navigate to the project files.
  • Choose where want to create a file.
  • To create file inside a folder click a folder’s menu.
  • To create a file at a root level of project click the + at the top of a file browser in Looker IDE.

Development Mode and Production Mode:

Looker data model exists in a two states production mode and development mode:

Production mode:

  • Production Mode is a production version of a Looker. Everyone who uses a Looker instances in production mode accesses projects in the same state. Project files in this mode are be read-only.
  • Use a production mode when can exploring a data in Looker for own analysis or to create saved content (looks and dashboards) for the other users.

Development mode:

Development mode allows to make changes to the LookML files and preview how they will affect a content on instance. Changes are make to LookML files in a development mode do not affect a production environment until they are pushed to a production environment In a development mode, can view the effects of a changes to project files in an Explore area of ​​Looker. Once happy with the changes, can save them and merge them into the production Development Mode is an often referred to as a Dev Mode:

  • Switching in and out of the development mode.
  • Can turn development mode on and off in any of those ways.
  • Use a keyboard shortcut Control-Shift-D (Mac) or Ctrl+Shift+D (Windows).
  • Enable a Development Mode toggle in Develop menu.


This article has provided comprehensive guide on a Looker ML and its importance for any organisation. It also provided brief description of Looker and its features. In addition, this Looker also provides an insight on the fundamentals in a ML and 5 easy steps can follow to learn it. Overall, Looker ML provides an innovative approach when dealing with the any type of data. By collaborating the together with Looker, it helps tailor models to a business needs to collect valuable customer insights. If want to integrate data into a desired database/destination, This will help in simplifying a ETL and management process of both a data sources and data destinations.

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