LightStep Documentation

Welcome to the LightStep developer hub. You'll find comprehensive guides and documentation to help you start working with LightStep as quickly as possible, as well as support if you get stuck. Let's jump right in!

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View Individual Service Performance

LightStep offers a way to quickly see how all your services and their operations - operations - The work represented by a span. are performing in one place - the Service Directory view. From here, you can:

  • See all your services in one place
    • Search for a service
    • Filter to view by platform
    • Mark "favorite" services
  • View operations on a service
    • View current performance of individual operations or performance at a specific percentile or performance change over a period of time
    • Filter by ingress or egress operations
  • View Streams - Streams - Persistent time-series trace data that matches a predicate such as a combination of service (component) name, operation, and tag values. Streams allow the analysis of specific facets of the generated tracing data, so you create streams based on data you know you always want to be queried. and dashboards that include that service
  • View the instrumentation quality of operations on that service

Want to add a service?

Read Quick Start: Use OpenTracing to Instrument Your Code to learn how to add instrumentation to your service so it can report to LightStep.

The data displayed in the Service Directory is taken directly from the 100% of span data that the Satellites collect in their recall window. LightStep continuously queries the Satellites and aggregates that data, including exemplars of application errors, high latency, or other interesting events. The information shown in this view is truly representative of performance over a given time period.

Access the Service Directory View

When you first open LightStep, you're taken to the Service Directory.
You can also access it from the navigation bar.

Find Services

Your services are listed in alphabetical order.
To make finding services easier, you can "favorite" a service so it always appears at the top of the list.

To find a service:

  • Use the Search box to search for services by name.
    As you type, LightStep filters the list of services that match your entry.
  • Filter by platform.
    All services show the language of the associated instrumentation. Use the platform dropdown at the top of the list to filter by a language.

To favorite a service:

  1. Find and select the service to favorite.
  2. Click the star next to the service's name.
    The service now appears at the top of the list.

View Operations and Their Performance

When you select a service from the list, a details pane on the Operations tab shows the service's operations currently reporting to LightStep in alphabetical order, and performance metrics aggregated over the past 15 to 5 minutes (10 minutes total). The number on the tab tells you how many operations are on this service.

The table provides several useful performance metrics for each operation:

  • Latency Change: Change in latency between now and the time period set using the Change Since dropdown.
  • Latency: How long the operation took to complete for a given percentile, set using the Percentile dropdown.
  • Error Change: The percentage change in error rate for the time period set using the Change Since dropdown.
  • Errors: The percentage of operations that contain an error.
  • Rate Change: The percentile change of rate in the time period set using the Change Since dropdown.
  • Rate: The number of times the operation occurred per second.

Search and Filter Operations

  • Use the Search box to search for operations by name.
    As you type, LightStep filters the list of operations that match your entry.
  • View only ingress or egress operations by clicking the respective tab.
    Ingress operations are the first operations handling external requests from outside that service (i.e. API HTTP GET etc.). Egress operations are those that call out to external services.

Want to see if other services are affecting an operation's performance?

Run a query for the operation in Explorer and then use the Service Diagram to view upstream and downstream services and their performance.

You can also run that query and use the Trace Analyzer table to sort, filter, and group service, operations, and tags to find upstream or downstream issues.

Create and View Streams for an Operation or Service

Streams allow you to passively monitor performance over time. Once you create a Stream, the Satellites automatically collect and persist comprehensive span data about that operation without requiring a request from the UI for the data. LightStep persists both statistical time series data and example traces, making them especially useful for tracking SLAs and alerting.

Create and View an Operation's Stream

You can create and view Streams created for an operation from the Operations tab. If a Stream exists for an operation, an active Stream icon displays next to the operation name. Click the icon to view the Stream.

If one doesn't exist yet, a grayed-out icon displays. Click that icon to create a Stream. The Stream is given the same name as the operation.

Best Practice - Create streams for your ingress operations

Usually, ingress operations for a service are high level enough that they indicate performance problems within a single service, and granular enough that finding the root cause of a performance problem is straightforward.

View All Streams for a Service

You can make Streams not just for an operation, but for any combination of service, operation, and tag (anything you can query for in Explorer).

To view all Streams for a service, click the Streams tab. The number on the tab tells you how many Streams exist for this service.

Click a Stream to view it.

Read Monitor a Service Level Indicator with Streams to learn more about Streams.

View Dashboards

Dashboards are collections of Streams shown in one place. Click the Dashboards tab to view dashboards that include a Stream for this service. The number on the tab tells you how many dashboards exist for this service.

Click a dashboard to view it.

Read Create Dashboards from Streams to learn more.

View and Improve Your Instrumentation Quality

The data you can view and use in LightStep depends on the quality of your tracing instrumentation. The better and more comprehensive your instrumentation is, the better LightStep can collect and analyze your data to provide highly actionable information.

LightStep analyzes the instrumentation on your services and determines how you can improve it to make your LightStep experience even better.
It can determine whether you instrumentation:

  • Crosses services to create full traces
  • Includes interior spans to help find the critical path
  • Contains custom tags to help find correlated areas of latency
  • Uses tags for releases to help monitor regressions
  • Contains hostname tags to help find performance issues in different environments.

Click the Instrumentation Quality tab to learn how well your instrumentation measures up. The number on the tab gives your score (based on 100%).

Learn more about what your score means and how to fix it.

View Individual Service Performance

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