OpenTracing APIedit

The Elastic APM Go agent provides an implementation of the OpenTracing API, building on top of the core Elastic APM API.

Spans created through the OpenTracing API will be translated to Elastic APM transactions or spans. Root spans, and spans created with a remote span context, will be translated to Elastic APM transactions. All others will be created as Elastic APM spans.

Initializing the traceredit

The OpenTracing API implementation is implemented as a bridge on top of the core Elastic APM API. To initialize the OpenTracing tracer implementation, you must first import the apmot package:

import (

The apmot package exports a function, "New", which returns an implementation of the opentracing.Tracer interface. If you call apmot.New() without any arguments, the returned tracer will wrap apm.DefaultTracer. If you wish to use a different apm.Tracer, then you can pass it with apmot.New(apmot.WithTracer(t)).

otTracer := apmot.New()

Once you have obtained an opentracing.Tracer, use the standard OpenTracing API to report spans to Elastic APM. Please refer to opentracing-go for documentation on the OpenTracing Go API.

import (



func main() {

	parent, ctx := opentracing.StartSpanFromContext(context.Background(), "parent")
	child, _ := opentracing.StartSpanFromContext(ctx, "child")

Mixing Native and OpenTracing APIsedit

When you import apmot, transactions and spans created with the native API will be made available as OpenTracing spans, enabling you to mix the use of the native and OpenTracing APIs. e.g.:

// Transaction created through native API.
transaction := apm.DefaultTracer.StartTransaction("GET /", "request")
ctx := apm.ContextWithTransaction(context.Background(), transaction)

// Span created through OpenTracing API will be a child of the transaction.
otSpan, ctx := opentracing.StartSpanFromContext(ctx, "ot-span")

// Span created through the native API will be a child of the span created
// above via the OpenTracing API.
apmSpan, ctx := apm.StartSpan(ctx, "apm-span", "apm-span")

The opentracing.SpanFromContext function will return an opentracing.Span that wraps either an apm.Span or apm.Transaction. These span objects are intended only for passing in context when creating a new span through the OpenTracing API, and are not fully functional spans. In particular, the Finish and Log* methods are no-ops, and the Tracer method returns a no-op tracer.

Elastic APM specific tagsedit

Elastic APM defines some tags which are not included in the OpenTracing API, but are relevant in the context of Elastic APM. Some tags are relevant only to Elastic APM transactions.

  • type - sets the type of the transaction or span, e.g. "request", or "ext.http". If type is not specified, then the type may be inferred from other tags. e.g. if "http.url" is specified, then the type will be "request" for transactions, and "ext.http" for spans. If no type can be inferred, it is set to "unknown".

The following tags are relevant only to root or service-entry spans, which are translated to Elastic APM transactions:

  • - sets the user ID, which appears in the "User" tab in the transaction details in the Elastic APM app
  • - sets the user email, which appears in the "User" tab in the transaction details in the Elastic APM app
  • user.username - sets the user name, which appears in the "User" tab in the transaction details in the Elastic APM app
  • result - sets the result of the transaction. If result is not specified, but error tag is set to true, then the transaction result will be set to "error"

Span Logsedit

The Span.LogKV and Span.LogFields methods will send error events to Elastic APM for logs with the "event" field set to "error".

The deprecated log methods Span.Log, Span.LogEvent, and Span.LogEventWithPayload are no-ops.


Context Propagationedit

We support the TextMap and HTTPHeaders propagation formats; Binary is not currently supported.

Span Referencesedit

We support only ChildOf references. Other references, e.g. FollowsFrom, are not currently supported.


Span.SetBaggageItem is a no-op; baggage items are silently dropped.