About Stackdriver Trace

Stackdriver Trace, a distributed tracing system for Google Cloud Platform (GCP), helps you understand how long it takes your application to handle incoming requests from users or other applications, and how long it takes to complete operations like RPC calls performed when handling the requests.

Because Stackdriver Trace collects latency data from App Engine, HTTP(S) load balancers, and applications instrumented with the Stackdriver Trace API, it can help you answer the following questions:

  • How long does it take my application to handle a given request?
  • Why is it taking my application so long to handle a request?
  • Why do some of my requests take longer than others?
  • What is the overall latency of requests to my application?
  • Has latency for my application increased or decreased over time?
  • What can I do to reduce application latency?
  • What are my application's dependencies?

For information about debugging or profiling your application, go to Application Performance Management.

Environment support

Stackdriver Trace runs on Linux in the following environments:

Stackdriver Trace is integrated with App Engine standard environment. During application runtime, App Engine standard environment automatically sends latency data to Stackdriver Trace for requests to application URIs. These requests include latency data for round-trip RPC calls to App Engine services. Stackdriver Trace works with all App Engine Admin APIs, with the exception of Cloud SQL.

Applications on VMs or containers (including Compute Engine, App Engine flexible environment, GKE, and those running with other cloud providers or on-premises) should use the client libraries to instrument your application to capture trace information. For per-language setup instructions, go to Setting up Stackdriver Trace.

Language support

Client libraries are available for all major languages. For some languages an OpenCensus library for Stackdriver Trace is available:

Language OpenCensus Library
C# ASP.NET Core No
C# ASP.NET No
Go Yes
Java Yes
Node.js Yes
PHP Yes
Python Yes
Ruby No

We recommend using the OpenCensus library when it is available for your language. OpenCensus simplifies your instrumentation because it hides some of the complexity of the corresponding Stackdriver Trace client library.

For general setup instructions, go to Setting up Stackdriver Trace.

Components

Stackdriver Trace consists of a tracing client, which collects the data and sends it to your GCP project, and a console interface on GCP, which lets you view and analyze the data collected by the agent.

Tracing client

If you are using App Engine standard environment, you don't need to do anything. App Engine standard environment automatically captures traces and sends them to your GCP project.

If you are instrumenting your code, import the Trace SDK library then create trace data and send it to your GCP project using the Stackdriver Trace API. The OpenCensus library simplifies the process of creating and sending trace data. Further, it might improve your performance because it batches trace data and sends it in the background.

Tracing interface

After the agent has collected trace data, you can view and analyze that data in near real-time in the Stackdriver Trace interface. The interface contains three windows: Overview, Trace list, and Analysis reports.

To get started using Stackdriver Trace, in the GCP Console, open the Overview window:

Open the Trace overview

The Trace console won't display data unless you've deployed an application to App Engine standard environment or unless you have access to a GCP project that is receving Trace data.

Overview

The Overview window provides summary information about your application:

Stackdriver Trace overview page.

The Insights pane displays a list of performance insights for your application, if applicable. This pane highlights common problems in applications, such as consecutive calls to a function, that if batched, might be more efficient.

The Recent traces pane displays the most recent traces. For each, the latency, URI, and time are displayed. You can use this summary to understand the current activity in your application.

The Most frequent URIs and Most frequent RPCs list the most frequent URIs (and RPCs) from the previous day, along with the average latency. If you click a link in either of these tables, you open the Trace list window which is preconfigured to display matching requests. Using the Trace list window, you can view latency as a function of time, and investigate details of any individual trace.

The Chargeable Trace Spans pane displays the number of spans ingested in the current calendar month, and the total for the previous month. You can use this information to monitor your costs for using Stackdriver Trace. For more information on costs, go to the Pricing section on this page.

The Daily analysis reports pane displays latency data for the previous day and compares it to the latency data from 7 days prior. Using this data, you can view if your latency behavior is changing over time. You can't change the format of the reports on this page. However, you can create custom analysis reports.

To learn more about the Stackdriver Trace Overview window, go to Viewing Traces in the GCP Console.

Trace list

The Trace list window lets you examine an individual traces in detail. By default, this view displays a plot of the latency for all traces and lists, in a table, the most recent traces.

If you select a specific trace to examine, two new panes are opened: a Timeline pane that displays all spans in the trace and an information pane that displays details about the selected span. By default, the root span is selected and the details include summary information about the request. To find traces for investigation, you use filters.

For more information on filtering and viewing trace details, go to Finding and viewing traces and Viewing trace details.

Analysis reports

The Analysis reports window lets you to create custom reports. These reports can include all traces, or by specifying filters, only include a subset of traces. You can also create reports that compare two different sets of latency data. For more information, go to Creating analysis reports.

Pricing

Latency data is packaged into a trace, which is composed of spans. The spans are ingested by the Stackdriver Trace backend which then makes the data available for real-time viewing and reporting in the GCP Console. When you view trace data, the stored spans are scanned as part of the retrieval process.

Stackdriver Trace pricing is determined by the number of Trace spans ingested, and scanned, on a monthly basis. For more information, go to Trace pricing.

You can create an alert to notify you if your ingested span count exceeds a predefined threshold. For more information, go to Creating alerting policies.

Quota

Stackdriver Trace enforces a rate quota on your of API requests and an ingestion quota on the spans you sent to Trace. For more information, see Quotas and limits.

To view your current usage:

  1. From the Stackdriver Trace API overview page, go to the Trace Overview window:

    Go to Trace API Overview

  2. Click Quotas.

You can create an alert to notify you if you have exceeded your quotas. For more information, go to Creating alerting policies.

What's next

To learn more about the Stackdriver Trace console, go to Viewing traces in the GCP Console.

To get started using Stackdriver Trace:

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