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Glossary

A/B test
A test that compares two different versions of a product or interface (typically the existing one and a new variant) by presenting different options at random to different people and gathering data on their behavior.
Action Menu
The UI popup that presents options for drilling through the data.
See also: Create charts with explorable data.
Aggregation
The act of summarizing data with a mathematical function, such as a summing up the values in a column, or counting the number of rows in a table. The resulting number might be called a metric, which is distinct from metrics in Metabase.
Alert
A notification that gets delivered by email or Slack when a condition or goal is met on a saved question.
Analytical database
A database optimized for a few large analysis operations rather than many small transactions. OLAP usually relies on analytical databases.
Application database
The database in which Metabase stores operation data about users, questions, etc. It is separate from the production databases that store the information Metabase manages.
Application Programming Interface (API)
A program’s API defines how other programs can communicate with it.
See also: Working with the Metabase API.
Attribute
A property of a user, such as their name, email address, or department.
Audit log
A record of who has accessed which tables and questions.
Bar chart
A chart that shows vertical or horizontal bars scaled to the values associated with discrete (categorical) data.
Bin
A sub-range of continuous values used in constructing a histogram.
Breakout
Grouping aggregated results by a dimension, e.g., the count of users broken out by country.
Card
A component of a dashboard that displays data or text.
Collection
A collection of items in Metabase, such as questions, dashboards, Pulses, and other collections.
Column
A list of values of a particular field, vertically displayed in a table. See also custom column.
Combo chart
A chart that combines bars and lines.
Common Table Expression (CTE)
A named result set in a SQL query, equivalent to a subquery. CTEs are evaluated each time the main query is run.
See also: Simplify complex queries with Common Table Expressions (CTEs).
Compaction
The process of taking data that is stored in scattered locations and bringing it all into one contiguous location to improve performance.
Country code
A standard two- or three-letter code identifying a country.
Cross-filtering
Clicking on a chart or table in a dashboard to filter everything else in the dashboard.
See also: Cross-filtering: using a chart to update a dashboard filter.
Custom column
Sometimes called a “calculated” column. You can use custom expressions to add columns to the results of your query in the notebook editor. For example, adding a column that calculates the difference between the total and subtotal.
See also: Custom columns.
Custom destination
On dashboards, you can customize the click behavior of a question card to determine what happens when people click on the card’s table or chart. You can set up a chart to send people to another question, dashboard, or external URL. You can also use values from the chart to parameterize the URL, for instance, by inserting an ID into the URL string. See our Learn article on Custom destinations.
See also: Custom destinations: choose what happens when people click on charts in your dashboard.
Custom expression
Similar to formulas in spreadsheet software, you can use custom expressions in the notebook editor to create custom columns, or to create more advanced filters and aggregations. For an in-depth guide, check out Custom expressions in the notebook editor.
See also: Custom expressions in the notebook editor.
Custom question
A question composed using the notebook editor.
Dashboard
A page in Metabase that arranges questions and text cards in a grid. You can add filter widgets, and wire up them up to individual cards on the dashboard by selecting the field to filter. See our docs on dashboards.
Dashboard filter
A widget added to a dashboard so that people can change parameters and settings without editing questions.
Dashboard subscription
Dashboard subscriptions allow you to send the results of all the questions on a dashboard via email or Slack on a schedule. Check out our docs on dashboard subscriptions.
Data access cell
A grid cell showing what kind of access (if any) the members of a particular group have to a particular table.
Data dictionary
A document that desribes the tables and fields in a set of data and explains their meaning, origin, and other properties.
Data lake
A place to store both structured and unstructured information, typically as files or blobs. Everything from Distinct from a structured data warehouse. See also Which data warehouse should you use?.
Data lakehouse
A system that combines a data lake with a data warehouse.
Data model
The structure of your information, including how that information relates to itself and the real world.
Data reference
Found at /reference/databases or by clicking on the book icon throughout Metabase, the data reference section lets you add and look up metadata about your databases and their tables and fields. See Exploring data with Metabase’s data browser.
Data sandbox
An Enterprise Edition feature, data sandboxes are a set of boundaries that define access to data down to both columns and rows. You can coordinate data sandboxes with your SSO setup. To see a big-picture view of how to use data sandboxes, check out Embed Metabase in your app to deliver multi-tenant, self-service analytics.
See also: Data sandboxing: setting row-level permissions.
Data type
A field’s classification as implemented directly by a database. Data types inform what kind of values should be expected in a field, such as integers or strings.
Data warehouse
A database used for analytics. The database could be a relational database, or a database designed specifically for analytical queries. See Which data warehouse should you use?.
Default view
The part of a map shown when the visualization intially loads.
Dimension
An attribute of an entity or object by which a measurement or metric can by grouped and filtered. For example, the category of an ordered product is a dimension of an order, and the total number of orderes (the measure) could be grouped or filtered by that dimension.
Directed acyclic graph (DAG)
A graph in which it’s impossible to get back to any starting node by following the links between nodes.
Drill through
To explore a pre-selected subset of data, e.g., by clicking on a bar in a histogram to see the raw values for that bar.
Embedding
Using an iframe (an inline frame) to place either a single question or a dashboard in another app. The Enterprise Edition offers full app embedding, which lets you embed the whole Metabase app inside your own app.
See also: Embedding charts and dashboards in your website.
Enterprise Edition
Metabase Enterprise Edition is a paid version of Metabase that includes additional features for managing large deployments or delivering interactive embedded analytics to your customers.
Entity key
Sometimes called a primary key, the entity key is a unique value that identifies a row in a database table.
Extract-Transform-Load (ETL)
A common operation in data processing systems that read data from one or more sources, massage it in some way, and then store it in another system. For example, an ETL system might read data from web server logs and a customer database to fill up a table of user sessions.
Field
Sometimes called a column, a field is an attribute of a database table. You can think of it like the “heading” of a column. For example, in the Sample Dataset, the Products table’s Category field contains the values “Doohickey,” “Gadget,” “Gizmo,” and “Widget.”
Field filter
Field filters are special variables you can use in SQL queries that let you create “smart” filter widgets, and connect your SQL-built charts to dashboard filters. If you write queries in SQL, you should definitely learn how these work, as you can do things like create pre-populated dropdowns in your filter widgets.
See also: Field filters: create smart filter widgets for SQL questions.
Field formula
The equation that powers a custom expression, like the formula you’d enter in the cell of a spreadsheet. For example, = [Subtotal] - [Discount].
Field type
Also known as semantic type, the meaning of a field (or column) in a table. For example, a column’s data type might be “integer,” but its field type could be “quantity.”
See also: Field types in Metabase.
Filter
A predicate expression (a question that resolves to either true or false) that you apply to a field to limit the results returned by a query. For example, you could limit the results of orders by only including orders where the value of the Total field is over 100. In this case the predicate expression would be “Total > 100?”. In SQL, queries are filtered using a WHERE clause, like WHERE Total > 100. See also filter widgets.
Filter widget
A UI element on a dashboard or SQL query where you can input a value or select one from a menu to filter results, like selecting CA to limit results to the state of California.
Foreign key
The foreign key is an ID field in one database table that corresponds to the entity key (a.k.a. primary key) of another table, establishing a relationship between the two tables.
Full outer join
A join that keeps every row from both tables regardless of whether keys matched. Columns in one table are filled with NULL where there wasn’t a match in the other table.
GeoJSON
A popular format for representing maps.
Goal line
A constant line added as a marker to a chart showing how high (or low) values must be to be considered noteworthy.
Grid map
A map with values overlaid graphically in a regular grid, e.g., as squared 10km by 10km colored to show values.
GUI Question
Queries built using either the simple or custom graphical query builder in Metabase.
Histogram
A chart that displays a vertical (or horizontal) bar for each set of continuous values falling into a discrete equal-sized range. The groups are called bins.
Horizontal scaling
Adding additional components to a system to improve performance, e.g., adding more servers. See also vertical scaling.
Inner join
A join that only keeps rows where the keys from the input tables matched.
JavaScript Object Notation (JSON)
A way to represent data by combining basic values like numbers and character strings in lists and key/value structures using the syntactic conventions of JavaScript.
Join
Joining tables refers to combining results from multiple tables. To join two tables, say table A and table B, you’ll generally want to connect the foreign key in table A to the entity key in table B, so the database knows how to organize the results. Check out Joins in Metabase.
JSON Web Tokens (JWT)
A standard for sharing encrypted authentication credentials between web services.
Key performance indicator (KPI)
A metric that shows progress toward a personal or company goal.
Left outer join
A join that keeps every row from the first (left-hand) table regardless of whether that row matched any in the second (right-hand) table. Columns from the second table are filled with NULL if there was no match.
Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP)
A protocol for accessing directory information services, often used as a single source of truth for authentication.
Line chart
A chart that connects discrete values with lines to show changes and trends.
See also: Guide to line charts.
Linear axis
An axis in a chart that spaces marks according to their values.
Linked filter
A filter widget that only displays a subset of values depending on the value of another filter. For example, a City filter can be linked to a Country filter so that the former only shows cities in the latter.
See also: Linking filters in dashboards.
Load balancer
A piece of hardware or software that distributes traffic evenly to available system components, e.g., sends queries to web servers to ensure they’re all equally heavily loaded.
Measure
A numeric evaluation of an attribute belonging to an object of interest, like the count, the height, the average age, the sum total, etc. Measures are often broken out by one or more dimensions.
MetaBot
The friendly resident robot of Metabase who can integrate with Slack to help out with finding questions.
Metadata
Information that describes data. You can add descriptions and assign data types to tables and fields in the data reference and data model sections of your Metabase to help people understand the nature and value of your data. See also The Data Model page: editing metadata.
Metric
In general in analytics, metric is synonymous with a measure. In Metabase, a capital-M Metrics is a saved aggregation with or without filters based on a single table. Admins can create Metrics to help keep your analytics organized by standardizing the way everyone calculates things like revenue, or lifetime value, or other key aggregations your organization relies on. See our docs on metrics.
Native query
A query written as text in the database’s query language (usually SQL).
Native query editor
The editor used to write queries as text. It editor includes a sidebar with three tabs: data reference, SQL variables, and SQL snippets.
Notebook editor
The GUI interface for custom questions. You can also start with a simple question, and open up the notebook editor at any time. The notebook editor allows you to join tables and create custom column. Like questions composed with the query-builder, questions composed with the notebook editor will benefit from the action menu.
Online Analytical Processing (OLAP)
Processing that involves a small number of large operations, such as creating quarterly reports.
Online Transaction Processing (OLTP)
Processing that involves a large number of small operations, such as logging user activity on a website.
Ordinal axis
An axis in a chart that displays values according to the discrete groups they are in.
Our Analytics
The root collection in a Metabase instance.
Parameter
A variable that maps to a dimension that can be changed by the user of a question or dashboard via a filter widget (or via the URL query string — the “address” of the question).
Personal collection
Your semi-private collection in Metabase (Admins can see the contents of all personal collections). Your personal collection is a great place to draft questions and dashboards, which you can move to a public collection when they’re ready to go.
Pin map
A map that displays a single discrete marker for each point of interest.
Pivot table
A pivot table is a table that groups rows and columns, and includes summarial rows with aggregate values for those groupings. These aggregate values are usually referred to as subtotals and grand totals, though these aggregates could also be other values, such as averages. They are called pivot tables because you can rotate (“pivot”) a column 90 degrees so that the values in that column become column headings themselves. Pivoting values into column headings can be really helpful when trying to analyze data across multiple attributes, like time, location, and category. You can pivot multiple columns, or not pivot any at all. Check out How to create a pivot table to summarize your data.
See also: How to create pivot tables to summarize your data.
Predicate
A predicate is an expression that evaluates to either true or false, like quantity > 0. True and false values are known as Boolean values.
Primary key
See entity key.
Production database
A database that stores information Metabase manages (as opposed to the application database that stores Metabase’s own management data).
Public embedding
Putting an iframe to a publicly-visible question in another web page.
Pulse
Pulses are a set of questions, along with a schedule and email or Slack recipients, which will be run and sent out on that schedule. Note: Pulses will be deprecated in favor of Dashboard Subscriptons sometime in the near future.
Query builder
The graphical interface for simple and custom questions.
Question
In Metabase, a question is a query and its visualization. There are three types of questions: simple, custom, and native queries. Questions can be added to dashboards and collections. You can also set up an alert on a question.
See also: Getting started with Metabase.
Read replica
One of a set of databases that contain identical data that can only be read (not updated). Read replicas are used to improve performance and ensure high availability.
Record
A group of related data with the same structure. A relational database stores each record as a row in a table.
Region map
A map that shows information for geographic regions (such as countries or states), e.g., by coloring each region to show a value.
Relational database
An application that manages the storage and retrieval of tabular data, or a collection of tabular data. In Metabase, databases contain tables, which are made up of fields (or columns) and records (or rows).
Right outer join
A join that keeps every row from the second (right-hand) table regardless of whether that row matched any in the first (left-hand) table. Columns from the first table are filled with NULL if there was no match.
Row
The records in relational databases are usually represented as rows in tables (though they may not actually be stored that way).
Sample dataset
A small database that ships with Metabase so you can start asking questions and creating dashboards before you connect to your database. The Sample Dataset contains four tables: Orders, People, Products, Reviews. It’s an H2 database, and you’ll see the Sample Dataset used in examples all over Learn.
Saved question
A Metabase question that has been saved and given a name. The results of saved questions can be used as the input to other questions.
Schema
The organization and structure of a dataset, such as its division into tables and columns.
Search filter
A filter that hides any rows in a table that don’t match some criteria.
Search widget
A widget that can be added to a dashboard that applies a search filter to the values used in one or more cards.
Secure embed
A method for embedding an iframe displaying a question or dashboard that uses signed tokens for authentication.
Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML)
An XML-based standard for exchanging authentication and authorization data.
Segment
A specific subset of a larger group of items, like a certain grouping of your customers. In Metabase, admins can define a segment, which is a named filter or set of filters, that can be applied to a GUI question to standardize how your organization defines a certain subset. See our docs on segments, or for a higher-level view, check out Keeping your analytics organized.
Serialization
Storing the state of an application in a file that can be reloaded (or deserialized) later.
Session metric
A measure of how someone interacted with a system, such as the number of pages they viewed in succession.
Session token
A random value generated by a server to identify a specific user for the duration of one interaction session.
Simple question
A question built using the GUI query builder.
Single Sign-on (SSO)
Stands for Single Sign-on. An authentication system (often called auth) that lets people log in to access multiple, independent applications. See Authenticating with SAML and JWT-based authentication. For a high-level view on how SSO works with data sandboxing, check outEmbed Metabase in your app to deliver multi-tenant, self-service analytics.
Soft delete
To mark a record as no longer active or valid without actually deleting it from the database. Soft deletes can improve performance, and can allow “deleted” data to be recovered.
SQL
Stands for Structured Query Language. Developed starting in the 1970s, SQL is the reigning champion for talking to relational databases. See our Best practices for writing SQL queries
SQL snippet
A snippet is a named bit of SQL code that you can insert in a SQL query.
See also: SQL snippets: reuse and share SQL code.
Stacked bar chart
A bar chart in which several values are shown for each category by stacking bars sized according to each value.
Stock Keeping Unit (SKU)
A scannable bar code used to uniquely identify some time of product.
Table
Data’s natural habitat. In a database, a table is a series of fields, with the values of those fields arranged in rows, each row with a value corresponding to a field. A table is also a type of visualization, or chart, that resembles a spreadsheet, with columns corresponding to fields (or aggregations in the case of custom columns).
See also: Everything you can do with the table visualization.
Text card
Cards on a dashboard where you can enter Markdown text to give context for your dashboard. Text cards can also be used as dividers on a dashboard. See Fun with Markdown in your dashboards.
Time series
Typically a line, bar, or area chart where the x-axis is time, and each point on the line is a value at a fixed interval (once an hour, or once a day, etc.). See our Learn article on time series comparisons.
transactional database
A database optimized for a large number of small operations rather than a few large transactions. OLTP usually relies on transactional databases.
Variable
A placeholder in a native query (enclosed in double braces {{...}}) whose value can be changed without rewriting the query.
Vertical scaling
Making a single component of a system more powerful in order to increase performance, e.g,. adding more memory to a single server or upgrading its CPU. See also horizontal scaling.
View
A subset of the data in a database that has been pre-selected. A view is essentially the result of a query that can be treated as if it was a table.
White labeling
To remove the manufacturer’s branding from a product and use the purchaser’s branding instead.
X-ray
A summary or visualization of a table or column generated automatically to give users a quick insight into their data.
X-ray feature
A setting in Metabase that controls whether X-rays are available or not.

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