Request Tracing

  • how-to
    Collecting information about an individual request and its response is an essential feature of every observability stack.

    To give insight into a request/response flow, the SDK provides a RequestTracer interface and ships with both a default implementation as well as modules that can be plugged into feed the traces to external systems (including OpenTelemetry).

    The Default ThresholdLoggingTracer

    By default, the SDK will emit information about requests that are over a configurable threshold every 10 seconds. Note that if no requests are over the threshold no event / log will be emitted.

    It is possible to customize this behavior by modifying the configuration:

    ThresholdLoggingTracerConfig.Builder config = ThresholdLoggingTracerConfig.builder()
    CoreEnvironment environment = CoreEnvironment.builder().thresholdLoggingTracerConfig(config).build();

    In this case the emit interval is one minute and Key/Value requests will only be considered if their latency is greater or equal than two seconds.

    The JSON blob emitted looks similar to the following (prettified here for readability):


    For each service (e.g. Key/Value or Query) an entry exists in the outer JSON array. The top N (10 by default) slowest operations are collected and displayed, sorted by the total duration. This promotes quick visibility of the "worst offenders" and more efficient troubleshooting.

    Please note that in future releases this format is planned to change for easier readability, so we do not provide any stability guarantees on the logging output format and it might change between minor versions.

    A new, yet to be stabilized, format can be enabled by setting the com.couchbase.thresholdRequestTracerNewOutputFormat system property to true. More information will be provided as we get closer to stabilization.

    OpenTelemetry Integration

    The built-in tracer is great if you do not have a centralized monitoring system, but if you already plug into the OpenTelemetry ecosystem we want to make sure to provide first-class support.

    Exporting to OpenTelemetry

    This method exports tracing telemetry in OpenTelemetry’s standard format (OTLP), which can be sent to any OTLP-compatible receiver such as Jaeger, Zipkin or opentelemetry-collector.

    Add this to your Maven, or the equivalent to your build tool of choice:


    And now:

    // Set the OpenTelemetry SDK's SdkTracerProvider
    SdkTracerProvider sdkTracerProvider = SdkTracerProvider.builder()
                            // An OpenTelemetry service name generally reflects the name of your microservice,
                            // e.g. "shopping-cart-service".
                            .put("", "YOUR_SERVICE_NAME_HERE")
            // The BatchSpanProcessor will efficiently batch traces and periodically export them.
            // This exporter exports traces on the OTLP protocol over GRPC to localhost:4317.
            // Export every trace: this may be too heavy for production.
            // An alternative is `.setSampler(Sampler.traceIdRatioBased(0.01))`
    // Set the OpenTelemetry SDK's OpenTelemetry
    OpenTelemetry openTelemetry = OpenTelemetrySdk.builder()
    Cluster cluster = Cluster.connect(hostname, ClusterOptions.clusterOptions(username, password)
            .environment(env -> {
              // Provide the OpenTelemetry object to the Couchbase SDK

    At this point the SDK will automatically be exporting spans, and you should see them in your receiver of choice.

    OpenTelemetry Troubleshooting

    • There are many ways to export spans. The example is exporting OpenTelemetry Protocol (OTLP) spans over GRPC to port 4317, which we believe is the de facto standard for OpenTelemetry. Make sure that your receiver is compatible with this, e.g. has these ports open and is ready to receive OTLP traffic over GRPC. With Jaeger in Docker this is achieved with the options -e COLLECTOR_OTLP_ENABLED=true and -p 4317:4317.

    • The exporter used in this example is BatchSpanProcessor, which may not have a chance to export spans if the application exits very quickly (e.g. a test application). SimpleSpanProcessor can be used instead, though is not likely suitable for production.

    • The example above uses Sampler.alwaysOn(), which exports every span. This may need to be reduced to avoid overwhelming the receiver, with e.g. Sampler.traceIdRatioBased(0.01) to sample 1% of all traces.

    • It can be worth sending traces into OpenTelemetry Collector, and forwarding them on from there to your receiver of choice. Among other capabilities the collector can log traces it receives, making for easier debugging.

    Parent spans

    If you want to set a parent for a SDK request, you can do it in the respective *Options:

    GetResult result = collection.get(

    OpenTracing Integration

    In addition to OpenTelemetry, we also provide support for OpenTracing for legacy systems which have not yet migrated to OpenTelemetry. Note that we still recommend to migrate eventually since OpenTracing has been sunsetted.

    You need to include the tracing-opentracing module:


    And then create an OpenTracing Tracer and pass it to the SDK:

    ClusterEnvironment environment = ClusterEnvironment