Setting up Stackdriver Trace for Python

Trace's Python support is provided by OpenCensus, a set of tracing and application metrics instrumentation libraries that work with multiple backends. You can find the latest details about OpenCensus for Python, along with additional documentation and examples, on its GitHub page.

Installation and configuration

To collect traces, you need to import the Stackdriver exporter and the OpenCensus tracer packages. Your application must also instantiate a Stackdriver exporter and a tracer.

The Stackdriver exporter uses the Application Default Credentials for authentication. You can omit the project ID if your code is running on Google Cloud Platform (GCP):

from opencensus.trace.exporters import stackdriver_exporter
import opencensus.trace.tracer

def initialize_tracer(project_id):
    exporter = stackdriver_exporter.StackdriverExporter(
    tracer = opencensus.trace.tracer.Tracer(exporter=exporter)

    return tracer

Running on Google Cloud Platform

You don't need to provide authentication credentials for instances running on Google Cloud Platform, provided Stackdriver Trace API access scope is enabled on that instance. However, we recommend setting the broadest possible access scope for your instance and then using Cloud Identity and Access Management to restrict access.

App Engine flexible environment

On App Engine flexible environment, the Stackdriver Trace API access scope is enabled by default, and the OpenCensus client library can be used without providing credentials or a project ID.

App Engine standard environment

On App Engine standard environment, the Stackdriver Trace API access scope is enabled by default, and the OpenCensus client library can be used without providing credentials or a project ID.

Google Kubernetes Engine

To use Trace with GKE, add the trace.append OAuth access scope when you create your cluster.

To create a cluster using gcloud, do the following:

  1. (Optional) Update gcloud to the latest version:
    gcloud components update
  2. Set your default project ID:
    gcloud config set project [PROJECT_ID]
  3. If you're working with zonal clusters, set your default compute zone:
    gcloud config set compute/zone [COMPUTE_ZONE]
  4. If you're working with regional clusters, set your default compute region:
    gcloud config set compute/region [COMPUTE_REGION]
  5. Issue the create command:
    gcloud container clusters create example-cluster-name --scopes

For more detailed information on creating a cluster, see Creating a cluster.

Compute Engine

For Compute Engine VM instances, you need to explicitly enable the trace.append Stackdriver Trace API access scope for each VM instance. When creating a new instance through the Google Cloud Platform Console, select the following values in the Identity and API access section of the Create an instance panel:

  1. Select Compute Engine default service account for Service account
  2. Select Allow full access to all Cloud APIs for Access Scopes

To use something other than the Compute Engine default service account see the Creating and enabling service accounts for instances and Running locally and elsewhere sections. The important thing is that the service account you use has the Cloud Trace Agent role.

Running locally and elsewhere

To run Stackdriver Trace outside of GCP you must supply your GCP project ID and appropriate service account credentials directly to OpenCensus client library . Your service account must contain the Cloud Trace agent role. For instructions, see Creating a service account.

Project ID

Provide a project ID to the OpenCensus as shown in Installation and configuration. We recommend that you set the environment variable GOOGLE_CLOUD_PROJECT to your project ID and modify your application to read this variable. To set the environment variable, do the following:

Linux or macOS

export GOOGLE_CLOUD_PROJECT=your-project-id


set GOOGLE_CLOUD_PROJECT=your-project-id




GCP client libraries use Application default credentials (ADC) to find your application's credentials. You provide credentials to the OpenCensus client library by setting the GOOGLE_APPLICATION_CREDENTIALS environment variable:


    export GOOGLE_APPLICATION_CREDENTIALS=path-to-your-service-accounts-private-key


    set GOOGLE_APPLICATION_CREDENTIALS=path-to-your-service-accounts-private-key



Sample Trace application for Python

@app.route('/index.html', methods=['GET'])
def index():
    tracer = app.config['TRACER']

    # Add up to 1 sec delay, weighted toward zero
    time.sleep(random.random() ** 2)
    result = "Tracing requests"

    return result

Viewing the traces

After deployment, you can view the traces in the GCP Console Trace Viewer.

Go to the Trace Viewer page

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