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OpenTracing API for C++

C++ implementation of the OpenTracing API

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Required Reading

In order to understand the C++ platform API, one must first be familiar with the OpenTracing project and terminology more generally.

Compile and install


mkdir .build
cd .build
cmake ..
sudo make install

To test:

make test


mkdir .build
cd .build
cmake -G "Visual Studio 15 2017 Win64" ..

To build the targets in debug mode

MSBuild.exe opentracing-cpp.sln /p:Configuration=Debug /Target=Build

To build the targets in release mode

MSBuild.exe opentracing-cpp.sln /p:Configuration=Release /Target=Build

To test: Run the below command to run the tests with the debug targets

ctest -C Debug

Run the below command to run the tests with the release targets

ctest -C Release

API overview for those adding instrumentation

Everyday consumers of this opentracing package really only need to worry about a couple of key abstractions: the StartSpan function, the Span interface, and binding a Tracer at main()-time. Here are code snippets demonstrating some important use cases.

Singleton initialization

The simplest starting point is opentracing/tracer.h. As early as possible, call

    #include <opentracing/tracer.h>
    #include <some_tracing_impl.h>
    int main() {

Non-Singleton initialization

If you prefer direct control to singletons, manage ownership of the opentracing::Tracer implementation explicitly.

Starting an empty trace by creating a "root span"

It's always possible to create a "root" Span with no parent or other causal reference.

    void xyz() {
        auto tracer = /* Some Tracer */
        auto span = tracer->StartSpan("operation_name");
        if (!span)
          // Error creating span.

Creating a (child) Span given an existing (parent) Span

    void xyz(const opentracing::Span& parent_span, ...) {
        auto tracer = /* Some Tracer */
        auto span = tracer->StartSpan(
        if (!span)
          // Error creating span.

Inject Span context into a TextMapWriter

    struct CustomCarrierWriter : opentracing::TextMapWriter {
      explicit CustomCarrierWriter(
          std::unordered_map<std::string, std::string>& data_)
          : data{data_} {}
      opentracing::expected<void> Set(
          opentracing::string_view key,
          opentracing::string_view value) const override {
        // OpenTracing uses opentracing::expected for error handling. This closely
        // follows the expected proposal for the C++ Standard Library. See
        // for more background.
        opentracing::expected<void> result;
        auto was_successful = data.emplace(key, value);
        if (was_successful.second) {
          // Use a default constructed opentracing::expected<void> to indicate
          // success.
          return result;
        } else {
          // `key` clashes with existing data, so the span context can't be encoded
          // successfully; set opentracing::expected<void> to an std::error_code.
          return opentracing::make_unexpected(
      std::unordered_map<std::string, std::string>& data;

    std::unordered_map<std::string, std::string> data;
    CustomCarrierWriter carrier{data};
    auto was_successful = tracer->Inject(span->context(), carrier);
    if (!was_successful) {
      // Injection failed, log an error message.
      std::cerr << was_successful.error().message() << "\n";

Extract Span context from a TextMapReader

    struct CustomCarrierReader : opentracing::TextMapReader {
      explicit CustomCarrierReader(
          const std::unordered_map<std::string, std::string>& data_)
          : data{data_} {}
      using F = std::function<opentracing::expected<void>(
          opentracing::string_view, opentracing::string_view)>;
      opentracing::expected<void> ForeachKey(F f) const override {
        // Iterate through all key-value pairs, the tracer will use the relevant keys
        // to extract a span context.
        for (auto& key_value : data) {
          auto was_successful = f(key_value.first, key_value.second);
          if (!was_successful) {
            // If the callback returns and unexpected value, bail out of the loop.
            return was_successful;
        // Indicate successful iteration.
        return {};
      // Optional, define TextMapReader::LookupKey to allow for faster extraction.
      opentracing::expected<opentracing::string_view> LookupKey(
          opentracing::string_view key) const override {
        auto iter = data.find(key);
        if (iter != data.end()) {
          return opentracing::make_unexpected(opentracing::key_not_found_error);
        return opentracing::string_view{iter->second};
      const std::unordered_map<std::string, std::string>& data;

    CustomCarrierReader carrier{data};
    auto span_context_maybe = tracer->Extract(carrier);
    if (!span_context_maybe) {
      // Extraction failed, log an error message.
      std::cerr << span_context_maybe.error().message() << "\n";
    // If `carrier` contained a span context, `span_context` will point to a
    // representation of it; otherwise, if no span context existed, `span_context`
    // will be nullptr;
    std::unique_ptr<opentracing::SpanContext> span_context =

API compatibility

For the time being, "mild" backwards-incompatible changes may be made without changing the major version number. As OpenTracing and opentracing-cpp mature, backwards compatibility will become more of a priority.


This library requires C++11 or later. But if you're interested in a C or C++98 API contact us on gitter. We're open to supporting additional APIs in a separate repository if there are people willing to maintain it.


By contributing to opentracing.cpp, you agree that your contributions will be licensed under its Apache 2.0 License.