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Apache SkyWalking CLI
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Apache SkyWalking CLI

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The CLI (Command Line Interface) for Apache SkyWalking.

SkyWalking CLI is a command interaction tool for the SkyWalking user or OPS team, as an alternative besides using browser GUI. It is based on SkyWalking GraphQL query protocol, same as GUI.


As SkyWalking CLI is using Makefile, compiling the project is as easy as executing a command in the root directory of the project.

git clone
cd skywalking-cli
make clean && make

and copy the ./bin/swctl to your PATH directory, usually /usr/bin/ or /usr/local/bin, or you can copy it to any directory you like, and add that directory to PATH.


Commands in SkyWalking CLI are organized into two levels, in the form of swctl --option <level1> --option <level2> --option, there're options in each level, which should follow right after the corresponding command, take the following command as example:

$ swctl --debug service list --start="2019-11-11" --end="2019-11-12"

where --debug is is an option of swctl, and since the swctl is a top-level command, --debug is also called global option, and --start is an option of the third level command list, there is no option for the second level command service.

Generally, the second level commands are entity related, there're entities like service, service instance, metrics in SkyWalking, and we have corresponding sub-command like service; the third level commands are operations on the entities, such as list command will list all the services, service instances, etc.

Common options

There're some common options that are shared by multiple commands, and they follow the same rules in different commands,

--start, --end

--start and --end specify a time range during which the query is preformed, they are both optional and their default values follow the rules below:

  • when start and end are both absent, start = now - 30 minutes and end = now, namely past 30 minutes;
  • when start and end are both present, they are aligned to the same precision by truncating the more precise one, e.g. if start = 2019-01-01 1234, end = 2019-01-01 18, then start is truncated (because it's more precise) to 2019-01-01 12, and end = 2019-01-01 18;
  • when start is absent and end is present, will determine the precision of end and then use the precision to calculate start (minus 30 units), e.g. end = 2019-11-09 1234, the precision is MINUTE, so start = end - 30 minutes = 2019-11-09 1204, and if end = 2019-11-09 12, the precision is HOUR, so start = end - 30HOUR = 2019-11-08 06;
  • when start is present and end is absent, will determine the precision of start and then use the precision to calculate end (plus 30 units), e.g. start = 2019-11-09 1204, the precision is MINUTE, so end = start + 30 minutes = 2019-11-09 1234, and if start = 2019-11-08 06, the precision is HOUR, so end = start + 30HOUR = 2019-11-09 12;

All available commands

This section covers all the available commands in SkyWalking CLI and their usages.

swctl top-level command

swctl is the top-level command, which has some options that will take effects globally.

option description default
--config from where the default options values will be loaded ~/.skywalking.yml
--debug enable debug mode, will print more detailed information at runtime false
--base-url base url of GraphQL backend
--display display style when printing the query result, supported styles are: json, yaml, table json

service second-level command

service second-level command is an entry for all operations related to services, and it also has some options and third-level commands.

service list [--start=<start time>] [--end=<end time>]

service list lists all the services in the time range of [start, end].

option description default
--start See Common options See Common options
--end See Common options See Common options

instance second-level command

instance second-level command is an entry for all operations related to instances, and it also has some options and third-level commands.

instance list [--service-id=<service id>] [--service-name=<service name>] [--start=<start time>] [--end=<end time>]

instance list lists all the instances in the time range of [start, end] and given --service-id or --service-name.

option description default
--service-id Query service id (priority over --service-name)
--service-name Query service name
--start See Common options See Common options
--end See Common options See Common options

Developer guide

Compiling and building

Clone the source code and simply run make clean && make in the source directory, this will download all necessary dependencies and build a binary file in ./bin/swctl.

make clean && make

Writing a new command

All commands files locate in directory commands, and an individual directory for each second-level command, an individual go file for each third-level command, for example, there is a directory service for command swctl service, and a list.go file for swctl service list command.

Determine what entity your command will operate on, and put your command go file into that directory, or create one if it doesn't exist, for example, if you want to create a command to list all the instances of a service, create a directory commands/instance, and a go file commands/instance/list.go.

Reusing common options

There're some common options that can be shared by multiple commands, check commands/flags to get all the shared options, and reuse them when possible, an example shares the options is commands/service/list.go

Running tests

Before submitting a pull request, add some test code to test the added/modified codes, and run the tests locally, make sure all tests passed.

go test -v ./...


Apache 2.0 License.

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