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Semantic Conventions

The OpenTracing Specification describes the overarching language-neutral data model and API guidelines for OpenTracing. That data model includes the related concepts of Span Tags and (structured) Log Fields; though these terms are defined in the specification, there is no guidance there about standard Span tags or logging keys.

Those semantic conventions are described by this document. The document is divided into two sections: first, tables listing all standard Span tags and logging keys; then guidance about how to combine these to model certain important semantic concepts.

Versioning

Changes to this file affect the OpenTracing specification version. Additions should bump the minor version, and backwards-incompatible changes (or perhaps very large additions) should bump the major version.

Standard Span tags and log fields

Span tags table

Span tags apply to the entire Span; as such, they apply to the entire timerange of the Span, not a particular moment with a particular timestamp: those sorts of events are best modelled as Span log fields (per the table in the next subsection of this document).

Span tag name Type Notes and examples
component string The software package, framework, library, or module that generated the associated Span. E.g., "grpc", "django", "JDBI".
db.instance string Database instance name. E.g., In java, if the jdbc.url="jdbc:mysql://127.0.0.1:3306/customers", the instance name is "customers".
db.statement string A database statement for the given database type. E.g., for db.type="sql", "SELECT * FROM wuser_table"; for db.type="redis", "SET mykey 'WuValue'".
db.type string Database type. For any SQL database, "sql". For others, the lower-case database category, e.g. "cassandra", "hbase", or "redis".
db.user string Username for accessing database. E.g., "readonly_user" or "reporting_user"
error bool true if and only if the application considers the operation represented by the Span to have failed
http.method string HTTP method of the request for the associated Span. E.g., "GET", "POST"
http.status_code integer HTTP response status code for the associated Span. E.g., 200, 503, 404
http.url string URL of the request being handled in this segment of the trace, in standard URI format. E.g., "https://domain.net/path/to?resource=here"
message_bus.destination string An address at which messages can be exchanged. E.g. A Kafka record has an associated "topic name" that can be extracted by the instrumented producer or consumer and stored using this tag.
peer.address string Remote "address", suitable for use in a networking client library. This may be a "ip:port", a bare "hostname", a FQDN, or even a JDBC substring like "mysql://prod-db:3306"
peer.hostname string Remote hostname. E.g., "opentracing.io", "internal.dns.name"
peer.ipv4 string Remote IPv4 address as a .-separated tuple. E.g., "127.0.0.1"
peer.ipv6 string Remote IPv6 address as a string of colon-separated 4-char hex tuples. E.g., "2001:0db8:85a3:0000:0000:8a2e:0370:7334"
peer.port integer Remote port. E.g., 80
peer.service string Remote service name (for some unspecified definition of "service"). E.g., "elasticsearch", "a_custom_microservice", "memcache". Meaning should correspond with values set in service.
sampling.priority integer If greater than 0, a hint to the Tracer to do its best to capture the trace. If 0, a hint to the trace to not-capture the trace. If absent, the Tracer should use its default sampling mechanism.
service string The service name for a span, which overrides any default "service name" property defined in a tracer's config. The meaning of service should correspond to the value set in peer.service, except it is applied to the current span. This tag is meant to only be used when a tracer is reporting spans on behalf of another service (for example, a service mesh reporting on behalf of the services it is proxying, or an out-of-band reporter which reads in log files). This tag does not need to be used when reporting spans for the service the tracer is running in.
span.kind string Either "client" or "server" for the appropriate roles in an RPC, and "producer" or "consumer" for the appropriate roles in a messaging scenario.

Log fields table

Every Span log has a specific timestamp (which must fall between the start and finish timestamps of the Span, inclusive) and one or more fields. What follows are the standard fields.

Span log field name Type Notes and examples
error.kind string The type or "kind" of an error (only for event="error" logs). E.g., "Exception", "OSError"
error.object object For languages that support such a thing (e.g., Java, Python), the actual Throwable/Exception/Error object instance itself. E.g., A java.lang.UnsupportedOperationException instance, a python exceptions.NameError instance
event string A stable identifier for some notable moment in the lifetime of a Span. For instance, a mutex lock acquisition or release or the sorts of lifetime events in a browser page load described in the Performance.timing specification. E.g., from Zipkin, "cs", "sr", "ss", or "cr". Or, more generally, "initialized" or "timed out". For errors, "error"
message string A concise, human-readable, one-line message explaining the event. E.g., "Could not connect to backend", "Cache invalidation succeeded"
stack string A stack trace in platform-conventional format; may or may not pertain to an error. E.g., "File \"example.py\", line 7, in \<module\>\ncaller()\nFile \"example.py\", line 5, in caller\ncallee()\nFile \"example.py\", line 2, in callee\nraise Exception(\"Yikes\")\n"

Modelling special circumstances

RPCs

The following Span tags combine to model RPCs:

  • span.kind: either "client" or "server". It is important to provide this tag at Span start time, as it may affect internal ID generation.
  • peer.address, peer.hostname, peer.ipv4, peer.ipv6, peer.port, peer.service: optional tags that describe the RPC peer (often in ways it cannot assess internally)

Message Bus

A message bus is asynchronous, and therefore the relationship type used to link a Consumer Span and a Producer Span would be Follows From (see References between Spans for more information on relationship types).

The following Span tags combine to model message bus based communications:

  • message_bus.destination: as described in the table above
  • span.kind: either "producer" or "consumer". It is important to provide this tag at Span start time, as it may affect internal ID generation.
  • peer.address, peer.hostname, peer.ipv4, peer.ipv6, peer.port, peer.service: optional tags that describe the message bus broker (often in ways it cannot assess internally)

Database (client) calls

The following Span tags combine to model database calls:

  • db.type, db.instance, db.user, and db.statement: as described in the table above
  • peer.address, peer.hostname, peer.ipv4, peer.ipv6, peer.port, peer.service: optional tags that describe the database peer
  • span.kind: "client"

Captured errors

Errors may be described by OpenTracing in different ways, largely depending on the language. Some of these descriptive fields are specific to errors; others are not (e.g., the event or message fields).

For languages where an error object encapsulates a stack trace and type information, log the following fields:

  • event="error"
  • error.object=<error object instance>

For other languages, or when above is not feasible:

  • event="error"
  • message="..."
  • stack="..." (optional)
  • error.kind="..." (optional)

This scheme allows Tracer implementations to extract what information they need from the actual error object when it's available.