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Tracing and Context Propagation


The Go SDK provides support for distributed tracing through OpenTracing. Tracing allows you to view the call graph of a Workflow along with its Activities and any child Workflows.

Tracing can be configured by providing an opentracing.Tracer implementation in ClientOptions during client instantiation. For more details on how to configure and leverage tracing, see the OpenTracing documentation.

The OpenTracing support has been validated using Jaeger, but other implementations mentioned here should also work. Tracing functionality utilizes generic context propagation provided by the client.

Context Propagation

Temporal provides a standard way to propagate a custom context across a Workflow. You can configure a context propagator in via the ClientOptions. The context propagator extracts and passes on information present in context.Context and workflow.Context objects across the Workflow. Once a context propagator is configured, you should be able to access the required values in the context objects as you would normally do in Go.

Server-Side Headers

On the server side, Temporal provides a mechanism for propagating context across Workflow transitions called headers.

message Header {
map<string, Payload> fields = 1;

Client leverages headers to pass around additional context information. HeaderReader and HeaderWriter are interfaces that allow reading and writing to the Temporal Server headers. The SDK includes implementations for these interfaces. HeaderWriter sets a value for a header. Headers are held as a map, so setting a value for the same key will overwrite its previous value. HeaderReader gets a value of a header. It also can iterate through all headers and execute the provided handler function on each header, so that your code can operate on select headers you need.

type HeaderWriter interface {
Set(string, *commonpb.Payload)

type HeaderReader interface {
Get(string) (*commonpb.Payload, bool)
ForEachKey(handler func(string, *commonpb.Payload) error) error

Context Propagators

You can propagate additional context through Workflow execution by using a context propagator. A context propagator needs to implement the ContextPropagator interface that includes the following four methods:

type ContextPropagator interface {
Inject(context.Context, HeaderWriter) error

Extract(context.Context, HeaderReader) (context.Context, error)

InjectFromWorkflow(Context, HeaderWriter) error

ExtractToWorkflow(Context, HeaderReader) (Context, error)
  • Inject reads select context keys from a Go context.Context object and writes them into the headers using the HeaderWriter interface.
  • InjectFromWorkflow operates similar to Inject but reads from a workflow.Context object.
  • Extract picks select headers and put their values into the context.Context object.
  • ExtractToWorkflow operates similar to Extract but write to a workflow.Context object.

Is there a complete example?

The context propagation sample configures a custom context propagator and shows context propagation of custom keys across a Workflow and an Activity. It also uses Jaeger for tracing.

Can I configure multiple context propagators?

Yes. Multiple context propagators help to structure code with each propagator having its own scope of responsibility.

Useful Resources