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User Attributes

User attributes provide a way to customise Lightdash charts, dashboards, and other behaviour depending on the user that is logged in. For example, you could only show your sales team members data that are relevant to their region.

User attributes are defined for your whole Organization and can only be a text value (not a date or number). Some examples of user attributes are:

  • Sales region
  • Department
  • Can view PII
  • Can view financial data

To start user attributes you need to follow 2 steps:

  1. Define the user attribute, users can only have user attributes that are explicitly created by admins
  2. Set the user attribute value per user.

User attributes can only be managed by admins.

Managing user attributes

Creating user attributes

User attributes can be created by navigating to Organization Settings > User Attributes and clicking on the Add attribute button. This will create a new user attribute but it will not be assigned to any user.

Assigning user attributes to users and groups

User attributes can be assigned to users or groups by navigating to Organization Settings > User Attributes and clicking on the user attribute you'd like to assign. Select a user by email address, or a group by group name and set their value.

Setting a default value for your user attribute

You can add a default attribute that will be applied to all users who don't have their own value defined in this user attribute.

If a user has an attribute defined, we will ignore the default for that user.

Using user attributes in Lightdash

There are several places in Lightdash where you can customise behaviour based on user attributes.

When referencing user attributes in SQL you can use the following SQL variables:

  • ${lightdash.attributes.my_attr_1} - a user attribute called my_attr_1
    • (optional) ld as an alias for lightdash
    • (optional) attribute or attr as an alias for attributes
  • ${lightdash.user.<intrinsic_attribute>} - reference an intrinsic_attribute of the current Lightdash user
    • (optional) ld as an alias for lightdash
    • available intrinsic user attributes:
      • email
info

The user email attribute is only available when the email is verified. This is a security measure to prevent users from creating/updating an account with any email they don't own and gain access to data they shouldn't see.

If the user email is not verified you will get the following error:

models:
- name: example
meta:
sql_filter: ${lightdash.user.email} = 'example@lightdash.com'

If you are self hosting you can enable SMTP or SSO authentication to allow users to verify their email address.

Row filtering with sql_filter

You can use user attributes to filter the rows returned by a query. This is useful if you want to restrict the data based on the user's attributes. To reference a user attribute in your sql, use the special lightdash reference ${lightdash.attributes.<attribute_name> }. You should use the IN operator since the attribute might have multiple values.

For example, if you have a user attribute called sales_region you can use it in your sql like this:

models:
- name: my_model
meta:
sql_filter: ${TABLE}.sales_region IN (${lightdash.attributes.sales_region})

Column filtering with required_attributes

You can use user attributes to limit some dimensions to some users.

In the example below, only users with is_admin attribute true can use the salary dimension on user table. Users without access to this dimension will not see it on the explore page.

columns:
- name:
description: User name
- salary:
description: User salary
meta:
dimension:
required_attributes:
is_admin: "true"

If a user without access to this dimension runs a query that contains this dimension, they will get a Forbidden error.

You can add multiple attributes for a single dimension. There are two ways to do this:

  1. Multiple attributes joined with AND. In the example below, only users with is_admin: "true" AND team_name: "HR" have access to the salary dimension in Lightdash.
columns:
- name: user
description: User name
- name: salary
description: User salary
meta:
dimension:
required_attributes:
is_admin: 'true'
team_name: 'HR'
  1. Multiple attribute values joined with OR. In the example below, users with team_name = 'HR' OR team_name = 'C-Suite' have access to the salary dimension in Lightdash.
columns:
- name: user
description: User name
- name: salary
description: User salary
meta:
dimension:
required_attributes:
team_name: ['HR', 'C-Suite']
info

Column filtering using required_attributes does not take into account intrinsic attributes of a user - email.

Table filtering with required_attributes

You can use user attributes to limit some tables to some users.

In the example below, only users with is_admin attribute true can use the payments table. Users without access to this table will not see it on the tables page or the explore page when joined to other tables.

version: 2
models:
- name: payments
meta:
required_attributes:
is_admin: "true"

Similar to columns filtering, you can add multiple attributes for a single table.

info

Table filtering using required_attributes does not take into account intrinsic attributes of a user - email.

Filtering joins with sql_on

If you're joining a table, you can also customise the rows that are returned

You can use user attributes to filter the rows returned by a join. This is useful if you want to restrict the data returned from the joined table. To reference a user attribute in your sql, use the special lightdash reference ${ lightdash.attributes.<attribute_name> }. For example, if you have a user attribute called sales_region you can use it in your sql like this:

models:
- name: base
meta:
joins:
- join: joined
sql_on: >
${base}.id = ${joined}.id
AND ${joined}.sales_region = ${lightdash.attributes.sales_region}

Current limitations

Lightdash dimensions and custom metrics are protected by this feature, however, it is possible to write custom SQL to bypass this filter, for example:

  • Developers and admins running SQL queries on SQL runner.
  • Custom SQL or subqueries on table calculations
info

Scheduler deliveries will run against the user who created the scheduled delivery, be careful when sharing required attributes with other users.

Demo: filtering a chart based on user attributes

The following video gives you a full demo for how to use user attributes to filter chart results.

How user and group attribute values interact

Users can be assigned attributes, but you can also assign groups attributes. So, if a user is assigned an attribute value, but they're also part of a group that's been assigned a value for the same attribute, what happens?

Column filtering

If the required attributes match any of the user's group or user attribute values, then the user has access to the column.

For example, if a user is part of a group with the attribute value kiwi, another group with the attribute value orange, and they've also been assigned as a user to the attribute value coconut.

columns:
- name: tropical_fruits_column
meta:
dimension:
required_attributes:
fruits: 'coconut'

In this example, the tropical_fruits_column will be visible to them because coconut is listed in their attribute values ['kiwi','orange', 'coconut'].

Row filtering

The template reference will be replaced by an array of the user's group or user attribute values.

Let's walk through an example:

models:
- name: my_model
meta:
sql_filter: ${TABLE}.fruit IN (${lightdash.attributes.fruit})

In this example, the ${lightdash.attributes.fruit} will be replaced with 'kiwi','orange','coconut'. The final SQL will be my_model.fruit IN ('kiwi','orange','coconut)