Distributed Tracing Workshop and OpenTracing Collaboration

A blog post by Pavol Loffay

apm | opentracing | tracing

The distributed tracing workshop is organized by the Distributed Tracing Workgroup and takes place approximately once a year. This time it was 18th-19th February in Berlin. It was a pleasure to be there with people from various companies and share ideas and a common goal to improve distributed tracing.


The agenda covered various hot topics like in-process context propagation, proposal for trace context header, state of OpenZipkin ecosystem and the latest happenings in OpenTracing. There were also research presentations by Jonathan Mace from Brown University about Baggage protocol and Baggage buffers. The workshop also included product presentations by:

  • Instana

  • Datadog

  • Amazon X-Ray

  • Jaeger by Uber

It was great to see how other projects present data to end users and what type of higher level analysis they focus on.


We discussed many things, and here are my main takeaways.

Key upcoming changes in OpenTracing:

  • Formal project organization called OpenTracing Specification Council (keep reading).

  • Clarification between logging, metrics and tracing. The discussion continues in specification/pull/46.

  • In-process context propagation. This feature will probably be the biggest change in the next OpenTracing version. It should solve inconvenient passing of parent context. Users would just start new span and if there is a parent available it will be automatically linked.

Trace context propagation:

  • Currently there are no standard headers for passing trace context. Several tracing systems adopted OpenZipkin’s B3 Propagation. Standardization of context header should help with concerns like CORS and linking together traces between different service providers. Proposed document.

Hawkular on OpenTracing Specification Council!

I am also happy to announce that the Hawkular project is part of the OpenTracing Specification Council (OTSC). This more formal organization structure will help with project growth and ensure that all major constituencies are involved. There will be regular calls to discuss priorities for OpenTracing standard and project, strategize around third-party project integrations and offer tie-breaking votes for issues where consensus among the larger community has proven elusive.

A big "Thank you" goes to Adrian Cole for organizing it and also to all attendees for sharing great ideas and knowledge around distributed tracing. Do not forget to join the group and be informed about upcoming events!

Published by Pavol Loffay on 15 March 2017


© 2016 | Hawkular is released under Apache License v2.0