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Lightdash Preview

Developer previews are temporary Lightdash projects where you can safely experiment with your metrics, dimensions and charts without affecting your production project.

Preview environments will copy all spaces/charts/dashboards into your new preview environment, so you can test the content and also run validation. This is only copied on preview creation, you can't sync the content afterwards.

Run lightdash preview from inside your project

# This will create a preview and will wait until you press a key to delete the preview project
lightdash preview


# This will create a preview and exit, you will have to run lightdash stop-preview to delete it
lightdash start-preview

Then cmd + click to open the preview link from your terminal. Once you're in Lightdash go to Explore --> Tables, then click on the model(s) you just updated to see your changes and play around with them.

Problems with credentials?

When you create developer previews, Lightdash will use the same warehouse connection settings you have in your profiles.yml file for your current dbt project. This can be a problem if you're using a local database that your laptop can reach but your Lightdash instance cannot.

Set up developer previews on your pull requests

If you've connected Lightdash to GitHub, you can setup a github action and get Lightdash to create new dynamic preview projects automatically when a new pull request is created, and it will automatically delete the preview project when the pull request is closed or merged.

Step 1: add the credentials to Github secrets

If you haven't already set up a GitHub action for Lightdash, you'll need to add some secrets to GitHub. If you already have a GitHub action for Lightdash, then you can use the same Lightdash secrets you created for your other action.

We are going to add some secrets and config to GitHub actions, but you don't want those to be public, so the best way to do this is to add them as secrets on Github.


If you already have a GitHub action for Lightdash, then you can use the same Lightdash secrets you created for your other action.

Go to your repo, click on Settings , on the left sidebar, click on Secrets under Security. Now click on the New repository secret

We need to add the following secrets:


Create a new personal access token, by going to Settings > Personal Access Tokens. This is the token you'll put in for LIGHTDASH_API_KEY.


The UUID for your project. For example, if your URL looks like, then 3538ab33-dc90-45f0-aabb-e50bba3a5f69 is your LIGHTDASH_PROJECT


This is either or for Lightdash Cloud users (check the URL to your Lightdash project). If you self-host, this should be your own custom domain.


Some tips for this bit:

  • You might be able to copy a bunch of the information from your local profiles.yml file. You can see what's in there by typing cat ~/.dbt/profiles.yml in your terminal.
  • If you have a separate prod and dev profile, you probably want to use the information from your prod profile for your GitHub action.

Find your data warehouse from the list below to get a profiles.yml file template. Fill out this template, and this is your DBT_PROFILES secret.

BigQuery OAuth:

Step 1: create a secret called GOOGLE_APPLICATION_CREDENTIALS

Add the service account credentials (the JSON file) that you want to use for your GitHub action. It should look something like this:

"type": "service_account",
"project_id": "jaffle_shop",
"private_key_id": "12345",
"private_key": "-----BEGIN PRIVATE KEY----- ... -----END PRIVATE KEY-----\n",
"client_email": "",
"client_id": "12345",
"auth_uri": "",
"token_uri": "",
"auth_provider_x509_cert_url": "",
"client_x509_cert_url": ""

Step 2: create another secret called DBT_PROFILES

Copy-paste this template into the secret and fill out the details

[my-bigquery-db]: # this is the name of your project
target: dev
type: bigquery
method: oauth
keyfile: keyfile.json # no need to change this! We'll automatically use the keyfile you created in the last step.
project: [GCP project id]
dataset: [the name of your dbt dataset]

More info in dbt's profiles docs:

Postgres profile configuration:
target: dev
type: postgres
host: [hostname]
user: [username]
password: [password]
port: [port]
dbname: [database name]
schema: [dbt schema]
threads: [1 or more]
keepalives_idle: 0
connect_timeout: 10
retries: 1

More info in dbt's profiles docs:

Redshift password-based authentication:
target: dev
type: redshift
host: []
user: [username]
password: [password]
port: 5439
dbname: analytics
schema: analytics
threads: 4
keepalives_idle: 240
connect_timeout: 10
ra3_node: true # enables cross-database sources

More info in dbt's profiles docs:

User / Password authentication:
target: dev
type: snowflake
account: [account id]

# User/password auth
user: [username]
password: [password]

role: [user role]
database: [database name]
warehouse: [warehouse name]
schema: [dbt schema]
threads: [1 or more]
client_session_keep_alive: False
query_tag: [anything]

More info in dbt's profiles docs:

Set up a DataBricks target:
target: dev
type: databricks
catalog: [optional catalog name, if you are using Unity Catalog, only available in dbt-databricks>=1.1.1]
schema: [schema name]
host: []
http_path: [/sql/your/http/path]
token: [dapiXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX] # Personal Access Token (PAT)
threads: [1 or more]

More info in dbt's profiles docs:

Step 2: Create start-preview.yml and close-preview.yml workflows in Github

Go to your repo, click on Actions menu, and click on Configure

Github actions page

Now copy this start-preview.yml file from our cli-actions repo

And save by clicking on Start commit

Do the same with this close-preview.yml file.

You're done!

Everytime you create a new pull request , a new preview project with your branch name will be created on your organization. Everytime you make a change to that branch, the preview environment will get updated. Once you close or merge your pull request, the preview project will get deleted.

You can see the log on Github actions page

Github actions stop preview