Distributed Tracingedit

Elastic APM supports distributed tracing to enable you to analyze performance throughout your microservices architecture by tracing all requests — from the initial web request to your front-end service, to queries made to your back-end services — all in one view.

Enable cross-origin requestsedit

Distributed tracing is enabled by default in the RUM agent, however, it only includes requests made to the same origin. In order to include cross-origin requests, you must set the distributedTracingOrigins configuration option.

For example, consider an application that is served from: https://example.com. By default, all of the HTTP requests made to https://example.com will be included in the trace. To also include requests made to: https://api.example.com, you would need to add the following configuration:

var apm = initApm({
  distributedTracingOrigins: ['https://api.example.com']

This effectively tells the agent to add the distributed tracing HTTP header (elastic-apm-traceparent) to requests made to https://api.example.com.

Note that distributed tracing headers are only appended to API calls. To view the full trace from a backend service, see Dynamically-generated HTML. To read more about cross-origin requests and why this process is necessary, please see the MDN page on Cross-Origin Resource Sharing.

Server configurationedit

The RUM agent is only one of the components in a distributed trace, so you must properly configure other components in order to use distributed tracing. In the example above, you need to make sure https://api.example.com can respond to requests that include the distributed tracing header. Specifically, https://api.example.com will receive an OPTIONS request with the following headers:

Access-Control-Request-Headers: elastic-apm-traceparent
Access-Control-Request-Method: [request-method]
Origin: [request-origin]

And should respond to it with these headers:

Access-Control-Allow-Headers: elastic-apm-traceparent
Access-Control-Allow-Methods: [allowed-methods]
Access-Control-Allow-Origin: [request-origin]

Access-Control-Request-Headers might include more headers than just elastic-apm-traceparent. The response should include all headers if the server wishes to let the browser send the original request.

To make sure all components in a distributed trace are included, the sampling rate of backend agents might be affected by the sampling rate of the RUM agent.

Dynamically-generated HTMLedit

If your backend service generates an HTML page dynamically, you need to inject the trace ID and parent span ID into the page when you initialize the RUM Agent. This ensures that the web browser’s page load appears as the root of the trace. As an example:

var apm = initApm({
    pageLoadTraceId: <trace-id>,
    pageLoadSpanId: <span-id>,
    pageLoadSampled: <is-sampled>

Most Elastic APM back-end agents provide methods to extract this information. Please refer to the relevant Agent’s API for more information: