Looker announces developer-friendly platform enhancements

A new pre-built app for Sales Analytics, as well as a new JavaScript SDK, open source library and new visualizations, make Looker more developer-friendly.
Written by Andrew Brust, Contributor

At its JOIN conference in London this morning, self-service BI/analytics contender Looker announced several enhancements to its platform. All of the enhancements are oriented around applications and application development. They include a new canonical application, JavaScript software developer kit (SDK) and open source library as well as visualizations.


Looker's Sales Analytics app

Credit: Looker

On what was one of the first warm days of the year in New York City, I took a pleasant walk from my home office to Looker's NYC office last week, to sit down with Daniel Mintz, the company's Chief Data Evangelist, and get details on the new release. He took me through each of the items in the manifest.

Start with an app

To begin with, Looker is releasing a new addition to what it calls its purpose-built applications, which are fully functional yet customizable, pre-developed applications for the Looker platform. I had covered Looker's apps for Web Analytics and Digital Marketing back in October of 2018, when they released to beta alongside Looker 6. Today, those apps are now graduating to GA (general availability) and Looker is adding a new Sales Analytics app to the family, as a beta release.

Also read: Looker 6 announced at Join conference in San Francisco

The new app, a screenshot for which appears at the top of this post, will cater to users in sales leadership, management, and individual sales rep roles. It will ship with what Mintz described as "plug-and-play" connectivity to Salesforce via a connector from partner FiveTran.

Also on tap is a new JavaScript Embed SDK with which corporate developers and SIs can build their own Looker applications. While it was previously possible to embed Looker into custom Web apps using IFrames, the new SDK will allow for more sophisticated integration.  The Embed SDK is expected to be available at the end of this month.

OSS utils, new vizzes

To help embedded app developers (and DevOps professionals) further, Looker is also launching its own GitHub repository for open source utilities built for the platform. For now, Mintz told me, these include existing tools like Gazer (a utility for managing Looker servers), Henry (which identifies unused content in Looker models and explores) and LAMS (Look at Me Sideways -- a style guide and linter for the LookML data modeling language).

Back in the core platform, Looker is adding four new viz types, namely waterfall, box plot, trellis and word cloud. The company says the waterfall viz "is particularly useful for sales and financial use cases" which is appropriate, given the release of the Sales Analytics app I discussed already.  The new vizzes will roll out by June 30, 2019, according to Looker's press release.

SaaS-y data

When we met, Mintz told me the average Enterprise uses as many as 1100 SaaS applications. Given Looker's focus on such applications as data sources, and its pre-built apps for Web analytics, digital marketing and, now, sales analytics, that can capitalize on the most popular of these, it's clear Looker is trying to move BI into the age of app-as-database as a way to counter rivals like Tableau, Qlik and Microsoft.

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