Custom instrumentationedit

To report on the performance of transactions served by your application, use the Go agent’s API. Instrumentation refers to modifying your application code to report a:

  • Transaction - A top-level operation in your application, such as an HTTP or RPC request.
  • Span within a transaction - An operation within a transaction, such as a database query, or a request to another service.
  • Error - May refer to Go errors or panics.

To report these, use a apm.Tracer — typically apm.DefaultTracer, which is configured via environment variables. In the code examples below, we will refer to apm.DefaultTracer. Please refer to the API documentation for a more thorough description of the types and methods.


To report a transaction, call apm.DefaultTracer.StartTransaction with the transaction name and type. This returns a Transaction object; the transaction can be customized with additional context before you call its End method to indicate that the transaction has completed. Once the transaction’s End method is called, it will be enqueued for sending to the Elastic APM server, and made available to the APM app.

tx := apm.DefaultTracer.StartTransaction("GET /api/v1", "request")
defer tx.End()
tx.Result = "HTTP 2xx"
tx.Context.SetLabel("region", "us-east-1")

The agent supports sampling transactions: non-sampled transactions will be still be reported, but with limited context and without any spans. To determine whether a transaction is sampled, use the Transaction.Sampled method; if it returns false, you should avoid unnecessary storage or processing required for setting transaction context.

Once you have started a transaction, you can include it in a context object for propagating throughout the application. See context propagation for more details.

ctx = apm.ContextWithTransaction(ctx, tx)


To report an operation within a transaction, use Transaction.StartSpan or apm.StartSpan to start a span given a transaction or a context containing a transaction, respectively. Like a transaction, a span has a name and a type. A span can have a parent span within the same transaction. If the context provided to apm.StartSpan contains a span, then that will be considered the parent. See context propagation for more details.

span, ctx := apm.StartSpan(ctx, "SELECT FROM foo", "db.mysql.query")
defer span.End()

Transaction.StartSpan and apm.StartSpan will always return a non-nil Span, even if the transaction is nil. It is always safe to defer a call to the span’s End method. If setting the span’s context would incur significant overhead, you may want to check if the span is dropped first, by calling the Span.Dropped method.

Panic recovery and errorsedit

To recover panics and report them along with your transaction, use the Tracer.Recovered method in a recovery function. There are also methods for reporting non-panic errors: Tracer.NewError, Tracer.NewErrorLog, and apm.CaptureError.

defer func() {
	if v := recover(); v != nil {
		e := apm.DefaultTracer.Recovered()
		e.SetTransaction(tx) // or e.SetSpan(span)

See the Error API for details and examples of the other methods.