“When issues broke,” Molly defined, “you’re mad scrambling—leaping from web site to web site to web site, attempting to place the items collectively.” Molly was ready to make use of Honeycomb to make things better up: “It makes my job simpler as an SRE.”

Getting began with Honeycomb doesn’t require a variety of work: at dev.to, they used the Ruby Beeline to get it going: “I didn’t do this a lot,” she stated. “I really feel like I cheated!” We invite you alongside on their journey, and we’ll share exactly what strains of code dev.to used to get began.

Service Fatigue

“Once I began at DEV, there was little or no in the way in which of monitoring, when it comes to observability,” stated Molly. “We had six or seven little instruments, every doing one little piece.”

Whereas every device had initially served a objective for the crew, the actual fact that there have been so many grew to become a ache level throughout incidents. It’s a well-known expertise for SREs or anybody who owns code in manufacturing.

“You’d have a look at one service, you’d see a spike, however that was all the knowledge you’d get. So then you definitely’d should go to the opposite providers and attempt to line up when the spike occurred.”

Even throughout regular web site operations, that’s sufficient to fatigue most individuals. With the added stress of an outage it turns into painful, error-prone, or each. That’s why Molly took the initiative to consolidate DEV’s use of monitoring providers as a lot as attainable. Whether or not dealing with an outage or simply desirous to see how the positioning was getting used, she wished all that data in a single place.

GitHub issue description in which Molly lists the seven monitoring tools she wants to consolidate

Molly’s preliminary purpose was to consolidate her tooling, however what she discovered with Honeycomb have been advantages past easing the speedy ache of service fatigue.

“Honeycomb actually provides us some nice perception into how customers are interacting with our platform,” she stated. “It’s been tremendous useful not just for debugging points, however permitting me to search out locations within the utility the place slowdowns are occurring, we’re hitting the database too many instances, and many others.”

It’s no coincidence that this was Molly’s first challenge after becoming a member of the DEV crew. She gave a chat at SREcon19 final 12 months on the advantages of an easy-to-use, centralized monitoring system. “The power to have all that data in a single spot after which be capable of actually drill down is tremendous handy,” she stated. “Having it multi functional place has been tremendous useful.”

Moreover, streamlining their tooling has simplified onboarding engineers at DEV. “They not should be taught 5, six, seven completely different instruments,” she defined. “Once they come on, I can say ‘Right here’s Honeycomb, that is how you employ it,’ and that’s it.”

“Generally folks suppose whenever you’re an SRE that we simply magically know, however we don’t,” stated Molly. “Half of what we’re doing is actually simply throwing in queries, hitting stuff. We have a look at a graph, ‘Ah there’s nothing there.’ Okay let’s have a look at a special one, ‘Ah there’s nothing there.’”

Molly makes movies for her teammates demonstrating how she makes use of Honeycomb to assist them be taught the device, and seeing her exploration course of has helped them perceive that it’s extra about mindset than experience.

“I believe that was a giant aha second for some folks,” she stated. “There’s no shortcuts to what we do, it’s principally getting all the info and discovering the items that stick out.”

Honeycomb permits first-principles debugging. That is whenever you don’t should be an professional within the system, you simply must know the place to begin digging. Demystifying debugging as a course of can empower a complete crew.

Getting Up and Operating

Molly described her expertise including Honeycomb’s Beeline gem for Ruby. It was less complicated than she anticipated.

“I didn’t do this a lot,” she stated. “I really feel like I cheated!”

“I actually simply took your documentation, slapped it into the challenge and it was like, Increase! there’s all your knowledge,” she stated. “It was fairly superior.” DEV is open-source, so you’ll be able to see the precise change she made in her pull request on GitHub:

  • add honeycomb-beeline gem to Gemfile
  • add Honeycomb API key to secrets and techniques
  • generate Honeycomb configuration utilizing the Beeline’s Rails generator: bundle exec rails generate honeycomb YOUR_API_KEY --dataset rails

GitHub PR diff showing the honeycomb-beeline gem being added to a Gemfile

GitHub PR diff showing a new file added with the filename config/initializers/honeycomb.rb. The file contents are Rails configuration settings.

As soon as Molly’s PR acquired merged, the DEV crew was sending knowledge to Honeycomb and gaining new insights.

“It was tremendous simple, and actually that acquired us in all probability 80% of the way in which there,” stated Molly. “Any device the place you’ll be able to rise up and working so shortly is large.”

By utilizing the Ruby Beeline first, Molly diminished the overhead of beginning out in comparison with instrumenting your complete utility from scratch. “If you may get worth out of it earlier than you even should customise? That’s a reasonably large deal. If it’s important to go into the weeds earlier than you may get worth? That’s a blocker for lots of people.”

As soon as she used Honeycomb with manufacturing knowledge, Molly considered particular areas she wished to instrument in additional element. Observability isn’t all-or-nothing. The incremental method is quite a bit much less scary.

Utilizing the Software

Honeycomb has a number of options that encourage customers to dive in and begin querying. The urged queries on the house web page assist customers get oriented.

“That’s one of many first issues I begin a lot of the movies with,” Molly stated, referring to the academic movies she makes for her teammates. Wanting on the dwelling web page, Molly stated, “one thing stands out after which I form of dive into it.”

One other characteristic of Honeycomb that Molly appreciates is the question builder, specifically, the autocomplete. “That helps immensely in attempting to determine what fields you wish to question for.”

Quite than having customers kind right into a clean question editor, the question builder reduces friction by breaking apart clauses into separate fields. There’s no bespoke question language to be taught, it’s SQL however extra visible and with ideas.

Honeycomb's query builder UI

(Learn extra in regards to the question builder.)

With the question builder you don’t should memorize all of the fields the app is sending to Honeycomb. This evens the taking part in subject amongst crew members.

Molly described to her coworkers the mindset she has when investigating attention-grabbing knowledge in Honeycomb: “Generally I’m not even fairly positive how I’m gonna filter down into what I would like, however I simply begin typing and I begin scrolling and I begin wanting.”

BubbleUp is one other distinctive characteristic in Honeycomb that Molly finds tremendous useful. “Let me let you know what number of instances I’ve been on different platforms the place all I would like is to simply slender down that graph with a drag and drop, and you may’t.”

Quite than attempting to correlate system habits and line up time intervals throughout separate graphs, BubbleUp does the work of evaluating the baseline to the outlier knowledge you’ve chosen.

Shared Historical past

One other Honeycomb characteristic Molly loves is the saved queries. “Often I’m opening like, tab after tab after tab after tab attempting to save lots of all my queries. I’m going down one path and it doesn’t return something, so then I’ve to go all the way in which again.”

several of Molly's queries in the DEV team's query history

Honeycomb robotically saves your question historical past and shows them within the sidebar. “Having these saved queries, you’ll be able to actually simply go over to your sidebar, you’ll be able to simply return, you’ll be able to go down a rabbit gap and are available again to your place to begin in seconds. That’s one characteristic that’s actually stood out to me in Honeycomb that I haven’t actually seen anyplace else.”

The shared historical past and question permalinks make it straightforward to collaborate and get a second set of eyes, or to stop a number of folks from hitting the identical useless ends. “Should you’re having an incident you’ll be able to slap the hyperlink to folks. They’ll see your historical past as nicely so then they will recreate what you probably did and presumably discover points with it, presumably take it down their very own path.”

Degree Up Your Workforce

Should you’re a Rails developer, you’ll be able to add the Beeline gem to your app and begin sending knowledge in the present day. Go to honeycomb.io/signup to begin at no cost.


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