Query Tiles and Look Tiles do the same thing: they display a visualization of some kind on a Dashboard. So why do we need two different tile types in order to do the exact same thing? In the next section of this article, we’ll explain the differences between the two tile types. If you’re interested in that, read on. If not, you might want to skip to the section titled Adding the Query Tile.
The Difference Between a Look Tile and a Query Tile
When you open a Dashboard, there’s no way of knowing whether a given item on that Dashboard is a Look Tile or a Query Tile; the two are indistinguishable. In fact, the only way to know for sure is to click the Options icon in the upper right corner of the item:
If the dropdown includes the option View Original Look, then you’re working with a Look. Otherwise, you’re working with a Query Tile.
But while they might seem to be identical, there are some important differences between Looks Tiles and Query Tiles (which explains why we have both tile types in the first place). The biggest difference between Query Tiles and Looks Tiles is this: a Query Tile is uniquely bound to its Dashboard; you can’t access a Query Tile without opening the Dashboard, and the Query Tile is available only in that Dashboard. By comparison, Look Tiles are not bound to a single Dashboard: not only can the same Look appear in multiple Dashboards, but you can view a Look without ever even opening a Dashboard.
So what does all that mean? Well, for one thing, it means that Query Tiles are more “portable” than Looks. You can move a Dashboard anywhere you want, and the Query Tile will dutifully come along for the ride. (It has to: as we noted, Query Tiles and Dashboards are bound together.)
Admittedly, if you move a Dashboard then Looks seem to come along for the ride as well. However, there’s a catch here: if you move a Dashboard to a new Space the Looks aren't moved to the new space; instead, a new copy of that Look tile is created in the space. That means you’ll now have two copies of the same Look: the original Look (Look A1), and the copy (Look A2) in the new Space.
Is that a problem? It can be. After all, one of the main advantages of a Look is the fact that the same Look can appear on multiple Dashboards. Do you need to make a change to that Look? No problem: make the change and that change is reflected on every Dashboard that uses that Look.
But that won't be the case with Looks A1 and A2. These two Looks might be copies of one another, but they are not linked in any way: if you make a change to Look A1 that change won't be replicated to Look A2. In turn, that means any Dashboard that uses Look A2 won't be updated, either. At this point, you’ve lost one of the major advantages of using a Look.
Incidentally, there’s no going back at this point. Suppose you delete Look A2. Your Dashboard now displays an error message where Look A2 used to be:
And what if you move the Dashboard back to its former Space, the same Space where Look A1 resides? That won’t make a difference, because the Dashboard is still looking for the deleted Look A2:
To make a long story short, Looks are designed to be shared among multiple Dashboards: you can create a single Look and then import it into a million different Dashboards. Query Tiles, by contrast, are one-offs: there’s no way to create a single Query Tile and then share that tile with other Dashboards. If you make a change to a Look, that same change appears on every Dashboard that uses the Look. That can be a good thing, or it can be a not-so-good thing; it just depends on the situation.
But here’s a neat trick: it’s possible to add a Look to a Dashboard and then convert it to a Query Tile. That might not seem like a big deal, but that means that you can later modify the original Look (or move the Dashboard to another Space) and not have your Dashboard affected in any way.
To convert a Look Tile to a Query Tile:
- Put the Dashboard in edit mode.
- Click the Settings icon in the upper right corner of the Look tile to be converted, and then click Convert Look to Tile.
- Click OK in the confirmation dialog box, and the Look tile will be transformed into a Query Tile:
Before you ask, no, there’s no way to do the opposite: you can’t convert a Query Tile to a Look tile. Look tiles can be converted to Query titles, but once a Query tile always Query tile.
Adding the Query Tile
To add a Query Tile to a Dashboard, first make sure that you’re in edit mode. How do you know if you’re in edit mode? One quick way to tell is to look in the right corner of the Dashboard window. If you see a button labeled Done Editing then you’re in edit mode:
After you’re in edit mode, click New Tile on the Dashboard toolbar. That brings up the Choose an Explore dialog box:
In this dialog box, click the Explore you want to use for the tile; in turn, you’ll see the standard Explore interface:
Create the Explore (see Creating Looks and Working with Explores for more information) and then click Save. The new tile will then appear in the Dashboard:
If you have second thoughts about this new tile (or about any Dashboard tile), click the Settings icon in the upper right corner of the tile and then click Delete:
And then just click OK in the confirmation dialog box to remove the tile from the Dashboard.
Just like that, you’ve added a Query Tile to your Dashboard.