Payara Server Community 5.2020.4 Makes it Easy to Set Up Custom Metrics in the Monitoring Console

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The focus of the recent improvements for Payara Monitoring Console in the 5.2020.4 release has been on configuration sharing and ease of usage. Here's a brief overview of a couple of new features available in the Monitoring Console.

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Persistent Page Configuration, Roles and Page Sharing

Starting from a common, initially provided set of pages, users could add pages and modify any of the pages to fit their needs. Up until now, such changes up were only stored in local storage of the browser and could be shared manually using the export and import feature. This wasn't very convenient or appropriate for an Enterprise setting. It was a makeshift solution while we worked on addressing the needs of the console properly. Now, the new persistent page configuration and sharing addresses the sharing limitations.

When using the Monitoring Console, users now choose one of three roles depending on the usage for the session: guest, user, and administrator roles. The role affects how the local configuration interacts with the added common configuration that is persistent and stored as part of the server configuration.

Guest Role

The guest role pulls the most recent shared pages from the common server configuration and updates the local configuration with it. No changes are pushed to the common configuration, giving guests the freedom to try the console and experiment with settings without running the risk of impacting other users.

User Role

The user role is a good default for anyone that regularly uses the console as a tool to gain insight into the server. For this role, the local configuration is only updated from the common configuration upon the user's request. Changes are only pushed to the common configuration upon explicit request of the user. This role gives users full control over their personal configuration. Other users are only impacted when explicitly asking for it.

Administrator Role

Finally, the administrator role is meant for users administrating the common shared configuration that is used as default for guests and for users that request it. When administrators want to maintain the common configuration, they switch their role from guest or user to administrator. Any change to their local configuration will now update the remote common configuration by default if the page is already a shared page. Pages not shared already can be added to the set of shared pages explicitly. Like the user role, administrators can also explicitly pull and push page configurations.

The choice of role here is not a form of authorisation. Connecting the roles with user rights is something we plan on doing in a future release of Payara Platform.

Bookmarkable Page URLs

This release also includes the ability to use links to specific pages. This is a small but potentially very useful feature, that allows you to easily point a colleague to a certain page by including a link to it in emails or personal messages.

So far this is limited to page navigation. We have some ideas for further URL features but we are also curious about your ideas and input. If you have a feature in mind where URL parameters give control over aspects of the page, please let us know.

Multiple Metrics in a Widget

Another small, but neat feature we added to the capabilities of the monitoring console, is to allow showing more the one metric in the same graph (widget). While graphs always could show the same metric from multiple instances, the user could not combine different metrics in the same graph. This limitation is now gone, and users can configure widgets to show any number of metrics. We intentionally limited this to metrics of common unit and scale. This means users can show any number of metrics in a widget as long as they share a common y-axis. For example, all metrics represent values that are percentages. We felt that this compromise provides good balance between capability and complexity.

As a byproduct of this change, the metric series of the widget is now editable and can be changed after the widget was added.

Synthetic Pages and Application Metrics

So far the Monitoring Console is purely based on manually composed pages. To bring metrics to a page, the user would modify the page configuration. This basic form is flexible but requires some experience and learning from users. To ease this step and make metrics more discoverable we added the concept of synthetic pages.

A synthetic page uses a single query to populate the page with widgets. Any metric matching the query is added as a widget. The widgets are sorted by rate of change and arrange on the page in the given column layout. While this is a fully automatic step where the user only configures the query used, it allows you to use the resulting page as a basis of further manual adjustments that can be applied to the page as usual. To allow joining of the two, the query is run in intervals equally controlled by the user as part of the page configuration. Short intervals are useful to bring most changing metrics to the top of the page and to attention - but any user customisation is soon lost on the next update due to the interval. Longer updates can be used to "bootstrap" a page and then tweak the resulting page. Users may even make such a page into the typical, manually managed page at any point.

The new synthetic page mechanism is especially useful for the application metrics that originate from MicroProfile (MP) Metrics within server and deployed user applications as the MP Metrics metadata information is made available to pre-configure the synthetically created widgets. The added Application Metrics page is a good example for the new feature but it is by no means special and users can create their own synthetic pages with different queries, update intervals or page limits.

In the future, we might look into maintaining manual widget customisation even when the page is re-populated on the next interval, pinning matches and other small improvements in this context.

Outlook of the Monitoring Console

The added features once more elevate the usefulness of the Payara Monitoring Console and we plan to keep doing so. One of the prominent features in progress is an advanced search feature that finally makes adding widgets much easier and more accessible.

We hope you are as excited about the new features as we are. As always we are curious about your feedback. Stay in touch.

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