Send OpenTelemetry data from a .NET app to Axiom

OpenTelemetry provides a unified approach to collecting telemetry data from your .NET applications. This guide explains how to configure OpenTelemetry in a .NET application to send telemetry data to Axiom using the OpenTelemetry SDK.


Install dependencies

Run the following command in your terminal to install the necessary NuGet packages:

dotnet add package OpenTelemetry --version 1.7.0
dotnet add package OpenTelemetry.Exporter.Console --version 1.7.0
dotnet add package OpenTelemetry.Exporter.OpenTelemetryProtocol --version 1.7.0
dotnet add package OpenTelemetry.Extensions.Hosting --version 1.7.0
dotnet add package OpenTelemetry.Instrumentation.AspNetCore --version 1.7.1
dotnet add package OpenTelemetry.Instrumentation.Http --version 1.6.0-rc.1

Replace the dotnet.csproj file in your project with the following:

<Project Sdk="Microsoft.NET.Sdk.Web">


    <PackageReference Include="OpenTelemetry" Version="1.7.0" />
    <PackageReference Include="OpenTelemetry.Exporter.Console" Version="1.7.0" />
    <PackageReference Include="OpenTelemetry.Exporter.OpenTelemetryProtocol" Version="1.7.0" />
    <PackageReference Include="OpenTelemetry.Extensions.Hosting" Version="1.7.0" />
    <PackageReference Include="OpenTelemetry.Instrumentation.AspNetCore" Version="1.7.1" />
    <PackageReference Include="OpenTelemetry.Instrumentation.Http" Version="1.6.0-rc.1" />



The dotnet.csproj file is important for defining your project's settings, including target framework, nullable reference types, and package references. It informs the .NET SDK and build tools about the components and configurations your project requires.

Core application

program.cs is the core of the .NET application. It uses ASP.NET to create a simple web server. The server has an endpoint /rolldice that returns a random number, simulating a basic API.

using Microsoft.AspNetCore.Mvc;
using Microsoft.Extensions.Logging;
using System;
using System.Globalization;

// Set up the web application builder
var builder = WebApplication.CreateBuilder(args);
// Configure OpenTelemetry for detailed tracing information
var app = builder.Build();

// Map the GET request for '/rolldice/{player?}' to a handler
app.MapGet("/rolldice/{player?}", (ILogger<Program> logger, string? player) =>
    // Start a manual tracing activity
    using var activity = TracingConfiguration.StartActivity("HandleRollDice");
    // Call the RollDice function to get a dice roll result
    var result = RollDice();

    if (activity != null)
        // Add detailed information to the tracing activity for debugging and monitoring
        activity.SetTag("", player ?? "anonymous"); // Tag the player's name, default to 'anonymous' if not provided
        activity.SetTag("dice.rollResult", result); // Tag the result of the dice roll
        activity.SetTag("operation.success", true); // Flag the operation as successful
        activity.SetTag("custom.attribute", "Additional detail here"); // Add a custom attribute for potential further detail

    // Log the dice roll event
    LogRollDice(logger, player, result);

    // Retur the dice roll result as a string
    return result.ToString(CultureInfo.InvariantCulture);

// Start the web application

// Log function to log the result of a dice roll
void LogRollDice(ILogger logger, string? player, int result)
    // Log message varies based on whether a player's name is provided
    if (string.IsNullOrEmpty(player))
        // Log for an anonymous player
        logger.LogInformation("Anonymous player is rolling the dice: {result}", result);
        // Log for a named player
        logger.LogInformation("{player} is rolling the dice: {result}", player, result);

// Function to roll a dice and return a random number between 1 and 6
int RollDice()
    // Use the shared instance of Random for thread safety
    return Random.Shared.Next(1, 7);


The tracing.cs file sets up the OpenTelemetry instrumentation. It configures the OTLP (OpenTelemetry Protocol) exporters for traces and initializes the ASP.NET SDK with automatic instrumentation capabilities.

using OpenTelemetry;
using OpenTelemetry.Resources;
using OpenTelemetry.Trace;
using System;
using System.Diagnostics;
using System.Reflection;

// Class to configure OpenTelemetry tracing
public static class TracingConfiguration
    // Declare an ActivitySource for creating tracing activities
    private static readonly ActivitySource ActivitySource = new("MyCustomActivitySource");

    // Configure OpenTelemetry with custom settings and instrumentation
    public static void ConfigureOpenTelemetry()
        // Retrieve the service name and version from the executing assembly metadata
        var serviceName = Assembly.GetExecutingAssembly().GetName().Name ?? "UnknownService";
        var serviceVersion = Assembly.GetExecutingAssembly().GetName().Version?.ToString() ?? "UnknownVersion";

        // Set up the tracer provider with various configurations
                // Set resource attributes including service name and version
                ResourceBuilder.CreateDefault().AddService(serviceName, serviceVersion: serviceVersion)
                .AddAttributes(new[] { new KeyValuePair<string, object>("environment", "development") }) // Additional attributes
                .AddTelemetrySdk() // Add telemetry SDK information to the traces
                .AddEnvironmentVariableDetector()) // Detect resource attributes from environment variables
            .AddSource(ActivitySource.Name) // Add the ActivitySource defined above
            .AddAspNetCoreInstrumentation() // Add automatic instrumentation for ASP.NET Core
            .AddHttpClientInstrumentation() // Add automatic instrumentation for HttpClient requests
            .AddOtlpExporter(options => // Configure the OTLP exporter
                options.Endpoint = new Uri(""); // Set the endpoint for the exporter
                options.Protocol = OpenTelemetry.Exporter.OtlpExportProtocol.HttpProtobuf; // Set the protocol
                options.Headers = "Authorization=Bearer API_TOKEN, X-Axiom-Dataset=DATASET"; // Update API token and dataset
            .Build(); // Build the tracer provider

    // Method to start a new tracing activity with an optional activity kind
    public static Activity? StartActivity(string activityName, ActivityKind kind = ActivityKind.Internal)
        // Starts and returns a new activity if sampling allows it, otherwise returns null
        return ActivitySource.StartActivity(activityName, kind);

In the tracing.cs file, make the following changes:

  • Replace the value of the serviceName variable with the name of the service you want to trace. This is used for identifying and categorizing trace data, particularly in systems with multiple services.
  • Replace API_TOKEN with your Axiom API key.
  • Replace DATASET_NAME with the name of the Axiom dataset where you want to send data.

Run the instrumented application

  1. Run in local development mode using the development settings in appsettings.development.json. Ensure your Axiom API token and dataset name are correctly set in tracing.cs.

  2. Before deploying, run in production mode by switching to appsettings.json for production settings. Ensure your Axiom API token and dataset name are correctly set in tracing.cs.

  3. Run your application with dotnet run. Your application starts and you can interact with it by sending requests to the /rolldice endpoint.

For example, if you are using port 8080, your application is accessible locally at http://localhost:8080/rolldice. This URL will direct your requests to the /rolldice endpoint of your server running on your local machine.

Observe the telemetry data

As you interact with your application, traces are collected and exported to Axiom where you can monitor and analyze your application’s performance and behavior.

  1. Log into your Axiom account and click the Datasets or Stream tab.

  2. Select your dataset from the list.

  3. From the list of fields, click on the trace_id, to view your spans.

Dynamic OpenTelemetry Traces dashboard

The data can then be further viewed and analyzed in the traces dashboard, providing insights into the performance and behavior of your application.

  1. Log into your Axiom account, select Dashboards, and click on the traces dashboard named after your dataset.

  2. View the dashboard which displays your total traces, incoming spans, average span duration, errors, slowest operations, and top 10 span errors across services.

Send data from an existing .NET project

Manual Instrumentation

Manual instrumentation involves adding code to create, configure, and manage telemetry data, such as traces and spans, providing control over what data is collected.

  1. Initialize ActivitySource. Define an ActivitySource to create activities (spans) for tracing specific operations within your application.
private static readonly ActivitySource MyActivitySource = new ActivitySource("MyActivitySourceName");
  1. Start and stop activities. Manually start activities (spans) at the beginning of the operations you want to trace and stop them when the operations complete. You can add custom attributes to these activities for more detailed tracing.
using var activity = MyActivitySource.StartActivity("MyOperationName");
activity?.SetTag("key", "value");
// Perform the operation here
  1. Add custom attributes. Enhance activities with custom attributes to provide additional context, making it easier to analyze telemetry data.
activity?.SetTag("UserId", userId);
activity?.SetTag("OperationDetail", "Detail about the operation");

Automatic Instrumentation

Automatic instrumentation uses the OpenTelemetry SDK and additional libraries to automatically generate telemetry data for certain operations, such as incoming HTTP requests and database queries.

  1. Configure OpenTelemetry SDK. Use the OpenTelemetry SDK to configure automatic instrumentation in your application. This typically involves setting up a TracerProvider in your program.cs or startup configuration, which automatically captures telemetry data from supported libraries.
    .AddOtlpExporter(options =>
        options.Endpoint = new Uri("");
        // Ensure to replace YOUR_API_TOKEN and YOUR_DATASET_NAME with your actual API token and dataset name
        options.Headers = $"Authorization=Bearer YOUR_API_TOKEN, X-Axiom-Dataset=YOUR_DATASET_NAME";
  1. Install and configure additional OpenTelemetry instrumentation packages as needed, based on the technologies your application uses. For example, to automatically trace SQL database queries, you might add the corresponding database instrumentation package.

  2. With automatic instrumentation set up, no further code changes are required for tracing basic operations. The OpenTelemetry SDK and its instrumentation packages handle the creation and management of traces for supported operations.


List of OpenTelemetry trace fields

Field CategoryField NameDescription
General Trace Information
_rowIdUnique identifier for each row in the trace data.
_sysTimeSystem timestamp when the trace data was recorded.
_timeTimestamp when the actual event being traced occurred.
trace_idUnique identifier for the entire trace.
span_idUnique identifier for the span within the trace.
parent_span_idUnique identifier for the parent span within the trace.
HTTP Attributes
attributes.http.request.methodHTTP method used for the request.
attributes.http.response.status_codeHTTP status code returned in response.
attributes.http.routeRoute accessed during the HTTP request.
attributes.url.pathPath component of the URL accessed.
attributes.url.schemeScheme component of the URL accessed.
attributes.server.addressAddress of the server handling the request.
attributes.server.portPort number on the server handling the request.
Network Attributes of the network protocol used.
User Agent
attributes.user_agent.originalOriginal user agent string, providing client software and OS.
Custom Attributes
attributes.custom["custom.attribute"]Custom attribute provided in the trace.
attributes.custom["dice.rollResult"]Result of a dice roll operation.
attributes.custom["operation.success"]Indicates if the operation was successful.
attributes.custom[""]Name of the player in the operation.
Operational Details
durationTime taken for the operation.
kindType of span (e.g., server, client, internal).
nameName of the span.
Resource Attributes
resource.custom.environmentEnvironment where the trace was captured, e.g., development.
Telemetry SDK Attributes
telemetry.sdk.languageLanguage of the telemetry SDK, e.g., dotnet.
telemetry.sdk.nameName of the telemetry SDK, e.g., opentelemetry.
telemetry.sdk.versionVersion of the telemetry SDK, e.g., 1.7.0.
Service Attributes
service.instance.idUnique identifier for the instance of the service.
service.nameName of the service generating the trace, e.g., dotnet.
service.versionVersion of the service generating the trace, e.g.,
Scope Attributes
scope.nameName of the scope for the operation, e.g., OpenTelemetry.Instrumentation.AspNetCore.
scope.versionVersion of the scope, e.g.,

List of imported libraries


<PackageReference Include="OpenTelemetry" Version="1.7.0" />

This is the core SDK for OpenTelemetry in .NET. It provides the foundational tools needed to collect and manage telemetry data within your .NET applications. It's the base upon which all other OpenTelemetry instrumentation and exporter packages build.


<PackageReference Include="OpenTelemetry.Exporter.Console" Version="1.7.0" />

This package allows applications to export telemetry data to the console. It is primarily useful for development and testing purposes, offering a simple way to view the telemetry data your application generates in real time.


<PackageReference Include="OpenTelemetry.Exporter.OpenTelemetryProtocol" Version="1.7.0" />

This package enables your application to export telemetry data using the OpenTelemetry Protocol (OTLP) over gRPC or HTTP. It's vital for sending data to observability platforms that support OTLP, ensuring your telemetry data can be easily analyzed and monitored across different systems.


<PackageReference Include="OpenTelemetry.Extensions.Hosting" Version="1.7.0" />

Designed for .NET applications, this package integrates OpenTelemetry with the .NET Generic Host. It simplifies the process of configuring and managing the lifecycle of OpenTelemetry resources such as TracerProvider, making it easier to collect telemetry data in applications that use the hosting model.


<PackageReference Include="OpenTelemetry.Instrumentation.AspNetCore" Version="1.7.1" />

This package is designed for instrumenting ASP.NET Core applications. It automatically collects telemetry data about incoming requests and responses. This is important for monitoring the performance and reliability of web applications and APIs built with ASP.NET Core.


<PackageReference Include="OpenTelemetry.Instrumentation.Http" Version="1.6.0-rc.1" />

This package provides automatic instrumentation for HTTP clients in .NET applications. It captures telemetry data about outbound HTTP requests, including details such as request and response headers, duration, success status, and more. It's key for understanding external dependencies and interactions in your application.

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