APM data types

Learn about the various APM data types.

Elastic APM agents capture different types of information from within their instrumented applications. These are known as events, and can be spans, transactions, errors, or metrics:

  • Spans contain information about the execution of a specific code path. They measure from the start to the end of an activity, and they can have a parent/child relationship with other spans.
  • Transactions are a special kind of span that have additional attributes associated with them. They describe an event captured by an Elastic APM agent instrumenting a service. You can think of transactions as the highest level of work you’re measuring within a service.
  • Errors contain at least information about the original exception that occurred or about a log created when the exception occurred. For simplicity, errors are represented by a unique ID.
  • Metrics measure the state of a system by gathering information on a regular interval.

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