Observability Glossary

Distributed Tracing

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Distributed Tracing is like a detective tool for software developers. Imagine you have a complex system with many different services working together, and a user request goes through all of them. Distributed Tracing enables you to follow the path of that request, like following a trail of breadcrumbs throughout your system. You can see where the request spends the most time and identify any issues or delays along the way.

For example, let's say you have a web application that consists of a frontend, two backend services and a database. When a user makes a request, it goes through all these components. With Distributed Tracing, you can see how long the request takes at each step, helping you pinpoint if the database is slowing down the process or if there's a bottleneck in one of the backend services.

Today, developers use tools like OpenTelemetry to implement Distributed Tracing in their applications. By adding instrumentation to their code, they can generate traces that provide deep insights into the performance of their distributed systems. Here's a simple example of how you might use OpenTelemetry in JavaScript:

// Require dependencies
const { NodeSDK } = require('@opentelemetry/sdk-node');
const { ConsoleSpanExporter } = require('@opentelemetry/sdk-trace-node');
const {
} = require('@opentelemetry/auto-instrumentations-node');

const sdk = new NodeSDK({
  traceExporter: new ConsoleSpanExporter(),
  instrumentations: [getNodeAutoInstrumentations()],

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