Thursday, March 20, 2014

Application Insights Deep Dive Part 7 - Working with Dashboards

This penultimate post is Part 7 of my 'Application Insights Deep Dive' series and if you haven't yet read over the previous posts, then you can check them all out here:

Application Insights Deep Dive Part 1 - Getting Started

Application Insights Deep Dive Part 2 - Building A Demo Server

Application Insights Deep Dive Part 3 - Deploying A Demo Web Application

Application Insights Deep Dive Part 4 - Monitoring Availability

Application Insights Deep Dive Part 5 - Monitoring Performance & Using Diagnostics

Application Insights Deep Dive Part 6 - Monitoring Usage

In the last post we covered how to monitor your end user/visitors usage data to understand how they were accessing your applications and from which types of environments.

For this post, I'll walk through creating custom dashboards that can be pinned to a 'Favorites' area where all the data that is of interest to you is centralised and easily accessible. I'll also cover how to share dashboards and make some changes to existing ones as required.

Using the Dashboard Templates

Logon to Visual Studio Online, open the Application Insights console and browse to the 'Overview\Dashboards' view as shown below.

Now click on the green '+' symbol to open up the 'Create Dashboard' dialog box. From here, you will be presented with four different types of dashboard templates to use (Blank, Default Application, Default Developer & Agent Instrumented Application dashboards).

For this first example, we'll choose the 'Agent instrumented application dashboard' template. When you've made your choice, give the new dashboard a friendly name and then select the web application that it will apply to from the 'Application' drop-down list as shown below (we'll select our Fabrikam web application that we created earlier in this series of posts) and click 'Create Dashboard'.

This will create a new dashboard that is pre-populated with tiles and graphs containing data about your monitored web application.

Each of these tiles and graphs contain live data and they can be individually clicked on to navigate directly to scoped application views inside the Application Insights console. For example, if you click on the 'Exception Events' tile, you'll be brought to the Diagnostics\Events view for your specified application like this...

Back at the Overview\Dashboards view, if you want to edit the layout of your newly created dashboard, then no problem - it's pretty simple to add, modify or remove any of the data graphics that you see.

The first thing you need to do is to select your dashboard from the 'My Dashboards' section in the navigation bar, then click the 'Edit' button (the blue pencil icon shown below)

Now, let's say I wanted to rename my dashboard. All I need to do in editing mode is to click on the dashboard name and modify it as I wish.

Next, I might want to remove the 'Config Changes' tile. To do this, I click on the tile (still in edit mode) and you'll notice that there are three new icons on the corners of your selected tile..

Hover your mouse pointer over each one and you'll find that the top right icon is used to 'Remove', then bottom right icon is used to 'Resize' and the bottom left icon is 'Configure tile'. Click the 'Remove' icon and your chosen tile (Config Changes for me) is now gone!

Now I want to resize my 'Active Alerts' tile to fill in the blank space made by my removed tile so I'll select the tile, then hit the 'Resize' icon to give me a view like this..

To add a new tile to the 'App Metrics' section that contains multiple metrics in the same tile, click the 'Metrics' option from the top bar, then choose 'Multi-metric tile' as shown below.

This creates a new blank tile with no data inside and you can simply drag and drop it into location under the App Metrics section like this..

Click the 'Configure tile' icon down the bottom left to open the 'Configure Tile - Multiple Metric' window. From there, choose your web application from the 'Applications' drop-down menu, then click on the metrics that you want to add to the dashboard from the 'Metrics' list (as below).

Now if you click on the 'Chart' link from this same view, you should see your chosen metrics listed and the colours that they will represent in the tile.Choose your colour of preference for the metrics here.

Click on the 'Options' link to modify properties like the name, subtitle, vertical axis, colour of the dashboard and time interval. I'm going to change the dashboard colour here to make it stand out and also I'll specify that it has a time range of one week.

Hit the 'Save Configuration' button when you're happy with your changes and you should see a new tile added to the template similar to this...

When you've finished editing your new dashboard, hit the 'Save' button (which is the floppy disk icon under the dashboard name) to end the process. Your new dashboard with the modified tiles and graphs will look similar to the one below..

Creating a Dashboard From Scratch

Most of the time, using the pre-built dashboard templates will be sufficient for you to design the type of dashboards that you need, but there might be a requirement for you to just start with a blank canvas and build out your own tiles and graphs as you see fit. This is a good option if you have applications that are being monitored without the Microsoft Monitoring Agent (MMA) deployed.

To do this, you'll need to use the 'Blank dashboard' template...

Clicking on the 'Create Dashboard' button will open up a brand new but completely empty dashboard for you to work with. Click the 'Quick Glance' link and choose an option from the resulting menu (we'll go with Availability for this example).

This will create a new Availability tile with no configuration. Resize it as required, then click the 'Configure tile' icon.

Choose the application and synthetic monitor that you wish to add to the dashboard, then click the Options link to modify the name and the colour of the tile and also the time interval.

Repeat this procedure using the 'Quick Glance' and 'Metrics' links to create and customise other tiles until eventually you have the custom dashboard that you are looking for (see below for the quick one I've put together).

You can also use the 'Pin to Dashboard' link when you're browsing through metrics data to add the metric tile to your chosen dashboard as shown here.

Enter your dashboard level and target dashboard.

Here's the metrics tile now added to your chosen dashboard...

Sharing Dashboards

With Visual Studio Online (VSO) and depending on the type of subscription you have signed up for, you can create additional users for your team members to work with all aspects of  VSO - including of course, Application Insights. The basic (and free) version of Visual Studio Online that I'm using for this blog series allows for up to five free users before you need to pay a monthly fee depending on the number of additional users over five that you require.

Regardless of the number of users you have, if there's more than just yourself accessing Application Insights, you might well want to share your dashboards with those additional users and to do this is pretty simple.

To share a dashboard that you've created, click on the drop-down arrow beside your dashboard's name, then choose the 'Move to shared dashboards' option as shown below.

Once the dashboard is moved, any user with access to your Visual Studio Online account can easily view the dashboard from the 'Shared Dashboards' link as you can see from the screenshot.

Creating and Sharing Favorites

If you've created a large number of dashboards, you might want to save some of them as favorites for quick access and viewing and this is easily achieved by clicking on the drop-down arrow beside the dashboard name and this time, choosing the 'Add to my favorites' option as shown.

If you want to share some of your dashboards as favorites (maybe you're the only one that creates the dashboards and then everyone else just consumes them from a shared favorites lists), then from the 'Shared Dashboards' section, click the drop-down arrow beside your shared dashboard and choose the 'Add to shared favorites' option as below.

So that pretty much wraps up this post on dashboards. In Part 8 (which is the final post in the series), I'll go through some of the options for email alerting, configuration and additional resources.

1 comment:

  1. I love how all this integrates so well with Visual Studio Online, I actually didn't realise it did so. So clean and pretty!