50. Features


spring-cloud-sleuth-stream is deprecated and should no longer be used.


If you use Zipkin, configure the probability of spans exported by setting spring.sleuth.sampler.probability (default: 0.1, which is 10 percent). Otherwise, you might think that Sleuth is not working be cause it omits some spans.


The SLF4J MDC is always set and logback users immediately see the trace and span IDs in logs per the example shown earlier. Other logging systems have to configure their own formatter to get the same result. The default is as follows: logging.pattern.level set to %5p [${spring.zipkin.service.name:${spring.application.name:-}},%X{X-B3-TraceId:-},%X{X-B3-SpanId:-},%X{X-Span-Export:-}] (this is a Spring Boot feature for logback users). If you do not use SLF4J, this pattern is NOT automatically applied.

50.1 Introduction to Brave


Starting with version 2.0.0, Spring Cloud Sleuth uses Brave as the tracing library. For your convenience, we embed part of the Brave’s docs here.


In the vast majority of cases you need to just use the Tracer or SpanCustomizer beans from Brave that Sleuth provides. The documentation below contains a high overview of what Brave is and how it works.

Brave is a library used to capture and report latency information about distributed operations to Zipkin. Most users do not use Brave directly. They use libraries or frameworks rather than employ Brave on their behalf.

This module includes a tracer that creates and joins spans that model the latency of potentially distributed work. It also includes libraries to propagate the trace context over network boundaries (for example, with HTTP headers).

50.1.1 Tracing

Most importantly, you need a brave.Tracer, configured to report to Zipkin.

The following example setup sends trace data (spans) to Zipkin over HTTP (as opposed to Kafka):

class MyClass {

    private final Tracer tracer;

    // Tracer will be autowired
    MyClass(Tracer tracer) {
        this.tracer = tracer;

    void doSth() {
        Span span = tracer.newTrace().name("encode").start();
        // ...

If your span contains a name longer than 50 chars, then that name is truncated to 50 chars. Your names have to be explicit and concrete. Big names lead to latency issues and sometimes even thrown exceptions.

The tracer creates and joins spans that model the latency of potentially distributed work. It can employ sampling to reduce overhead during the process, to reduce the amount of data sent to Zipkin, or both.

Spans returned by a tracer report data to Zipkin when finished or do nothing if unsampled. After starting a span, you can annotate events of interest or add tags containing details or lookup keys.

Spans have a context that includes trace identifiers that place the span at the correct spot in the tree representing the distributed operation.

50.1.2 Local Tracing

When tracing local code, you can run it inside a span, as shown in the following example:

@Autowired Tracer tracer;

Span span = tracer.newTrace().name("encode").start();
try {
} finally {

In the preceding example, the span is the root of the trace. In many cases, the span is part of an existing trace. When this is the case, call newChild instead of newTrace, as shown in the following example:

@Autowired Tracer tracer;

Span span = tracer.newChild(root.context()).name("encode").start();
try {
} finally {

50.1.3 Customizing Spans

Once you have a span, you can add tags to it. The tags can be used as lookup keys or details. For example, you might add a tag with your runtime version, as shown in the following example:

span.tag("clnt/finagle.version", "6.36.0");

When exposing the ability to customize spans to third parties, prefer brave.SpanCustomizer as opposed to brave.Span. The former is simpler to understand and test and does not tempt users with span lifecycle hooks.

interface MyTraceCallback {
  void request(Request request, SpanCustomizer customizer);

Since brave.Span implements brave.SpanCustomizer, you can pass it to users, as shown in the following example:

for (MyTraceCallback callback : userCallbacks) {
  callback.request(request, span);

50.1.4 Implicitly Looking up the Current Span

Sometimes, you do not know if a trace is in progress or not, and you do not want users to do null checks. brave.CurrentSpanCustomizer handles this problem by adding data to any span that’s in progress or drops, as shown in the following example:


// The user code can then inject this without a chance of it being null.
@Autowired SpanCustomizer span;

void userCode() {

50.1.5 RPC tracing


Check for instrumentation written here and Zipkin’s list before rolling your own RPC instrumentation.

RPC tracing is often done automatically by interceptors. Behind the scenes, they add tags and events that relate to their role in an RPC operation.

The following example shows how to add a client span:

@Autowired Tracer tracer;

// before you send a request, add metadata that describes the operation
span = tracer.newTrace().name("get").type(CLIENT);
span.tag("clnt/finagle.version", "6.36.0");
span.tag(TraceKeys.HTTP_PATH, "/api");
    .ipv4(127 << 24 | 1)

// when the request is scheduled, start the span

// if you have callbacks for when data is on the wire, note those events

// when the response is complete, finish the span

One-Way tracing

Sometimes, you need to model an asynchronous operation where there is a request but no response. In normal RPC tracing, you use span.finish() to indicate that the response was received. In one-way tracing, you use span.flush() instead, as you do not expect a response.

The following example shows how a client might model a one-way operation:

@Autowired Tracer tracer;

// start a new span representing a client request
oneWaySend = tracer.newSpan(parent).kind(Span.Kind.CLIENT);

// Add the trace context to the request, so it can be propagated in-band
                     .inject(oneWaySend.context(), request);

// fire off the request asynchronously, totally dropping any response

// start the client side and flush instead of finish

The following example shows how a server might handle a one-way operation:

@Autowired Tracing tracing;
@Autowired Tracer tracer;

// pull the context out of the incoming request
extractor = tracing.propagation().extractor(Request::getHeader);

// convert that context to a span which you can name and add tags to
oneWayReceive = nextSpan(tracer, extractor.extract(request))
    ... add tags etc.

// start the server side and flush instead of finish

// you should not modify this span anymore as it is complete. However,
// you can create children to represent follow-up work.
next = tracer.newSpan(oneWayReceive.context()).name("step2").start();