Application Insights – GDPR considerations

So, application insights can track a users’ session, and if they are a returning user – and it does this with cookies…

So, how do you handle this with App Insights?
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Application Insights – GDPR considerations

Setting Application Insights connection string for Client JavaScript

So, if you’re using Application Insights, you may choose to use the client-side JavaScript API. This is a snippet that will allow you to use Application Insights in JavaScript – and conventiently it records lots useful error, dependency and trace data, allow with PageView data. It’s pretty nifty, and also supports filters and telemetry enrichment.

In that snippet, you’ll find lots of mention of a configuration setting “instrumentation key”. This is the ID of the app insights instance that your data will be sent to.

The thing is, it has been deprecated in favour of “connection string”. This is the same connection string as you use server-side (as described previously), and can be read from:

string aiConnection = TelemetryConfiguration.Active?.ConnectionString;

You should do this and render the connection string rather than hard-code it into your layout page.

Setting Application Insights connection string for Client JavaScript

Setting your Application Insights Connection String

If you’re adding Application Insights to your solution, you will need to specify a connection string. Usually, this is at the bottom of your applicationinsights.config file:

A nifty alternative is you can specify this connection as an Environment Variable – and App Insights will pick that up and use it…

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Setting your Application Insights Connection String

Filtering App Insights Server-side Trace messages

Previously I posted about using a Log4Net Appender to record Sitecore logs to Application Insights. That code will write Trace Messages to App Insights. I’m already filtering the messages to WARN or above using standard Log4Net <filter>s – but what if I need to filter more particular messages. Well, I wrote a telemetry processor to do this, just like Requests and Dependencies.

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Filtering App Insights Server-side Trace messages

Writing Sitecore Logs to Azure Application Insights in IAAS/On Prem

Sitecore’s installer for Azure app services installs a neat feature; a Log4Net appender that writes Sitecore log entries to Application Insights as TRACE messages. Nifty! However, for reasons I cannot comprehend, this is not included in the normal installer. That’s a terrible shame, as App Insights is still useful for Sitecore running on actual tin or in a VM.

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Writing Sitecore Logs to Azure Application Insights in IAAS/On Prem

Filtering App Insights Server-side Dependency messages

So, previously I’ve written about filtering out all the successful Dependency messages going to App Insights. What about unsuccessful ones, though?

My Sitecore instance seems have a failing dependency that is clogging up my logs. It’s the same as mentioned in this StackExchange question. It doesn’t seem to cause any issue, though… and it isn’t every environment either. Anyway, I’d like to block it. Telemetry processors to the rescue…

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Filtering App Insights Server-side Dependency messages

Filtering App Insights server-side Health Check requests

So, again, I’m trying to tame Application Insights. My logs are filling up with various requests for different health-check URLs. These get requested, over and over, day after day, and all are recorded in App Insights as Requests. However, I don’t care about these requests if they’re successful. In fact, I only care about if they fail. Can I exclude them?

Yes, I can. I’ll build a telemetry processor to filter them out.

Continue reading “Filtering App Insights server-side Health Check requests”
Filtering App Insights server-side Health Check requests

Filtering App Insights Successful server-side dependencies

Application Insights can record the performance of your dependencies – so things like requests to SQL server, MongoDB, etc.. That’s great – but it can become VERY verbose. I find frequently that most of my allocation of data is spent tracking every damn SQL statement run – and there could be hundreds in a single page load.

You can just turn on Dependency tracking completely – but that seems a bit of nuclear option. What if there IS a problem? I want to know about it!

Well, you can create your own Telemetry filter instead:

public class SuccessfulDependencyFilter : ITelemetryProcessor
{
	private readonly ITelemetryProcessor _nextProcessor;

	public SuccessfulDependencyFilter(ITelemetryProcessor nextProcessor)
	{
		_nextProcessor = nextProcessor;
	}

	public void Process(ITelemetry telemetry)
	{
		DependencyTelemetry dependencyTelemetry = telemetry as DependencyTelemetry;
		if (dependencyTelemetry != null)
		{
			if (dependencyTelemetry.Success == true )
			{
				return;					
			}
		}

		_nextProcessor.Process(telemetry);
	}
}

This ITelemetryProcessor will check if the telemetry is a successful Dependency, and if it is, end processing (i.e. don’t write anything to App Insights).

To use it, add it to the ApplicationInsights.config in the TelemetryProcessors section:

Obviously, this means that if you have problems like a slow dependency that is still eventually successful then you won’t have any telemetry to show you that – but it VASTLY reduces the data being captured.

Filtering App Insights Successful server-side dependencies

Filtering App Insights Client-Side successful dependencies

So, I found that our client JavaScript was recording quite a lot of successful dependency messages for loading 3rd party scripts:

These are all analytics tools, and to be honest, I don’t care about them. Sure, it can be useful to know how long they take to load, but these are loaded after the page is ready, so even if they are slow they shouldn’t impact performance. And I don’t really think I need to know every time a user loads these analytics tools.

Therefore, I wrote a telemetry filter to block sending them. I could just use sampling – but I’d prefer to have none.

onInit: function (sdk) {
	/*	Once the application insights instance has loaded and initialized this method will be called 
	    This filter will block successful remote dependency requests being logged. */
	sdk.addTelemetryInitializer(function(envelope) {
		if (envelope.baseType === 'RemoteDependencyData')
		{
			if (envelope.baseData.success)
			{
				return false;
			}
		}
	});
},

From my testing, if the user blocks loading of a remote dependency I don’t see any kind of message being returned – even a failure, which is good.

Filtering App Insights Client-Side successful dependencies