Application Insights – Part 8: Extending the Power of Application Insights with Glimpse and PowerBI

This series of blog posts will tell you everything you need to know about application insights.

Part 1: The Basics
Part 2: Is Application Insights really that “easy to add”?
Part 3: Is Application Insights really that “easy to use”?
Part 4: Application Monitoring with Application Insights
Part 5: Troubleshooting Failures with Application Insights
Part 6: Troubleshooting Performance Problems with Application Insights
Part 7: Availability Monitoring and Web-Testing with Application Insights
Part 8: Extending the Power of Application Insights with Glimpse and PowerBI

 

Part 8: Extending the Power of Application Insights with Glimpse and PowerBI

In the last part of the series, I would like to introduce two very interesting additions that extend the capabilities of Application Insights: Glimpse and PowerBI.

 

Glimpse

Glimpse is a tool that can be used during the development of web applications. I like to call it “a real-time head-up-display profiler”. Suppose that you are working on an ASP.NET MVC application, glimpse opens a head-up display inside the browser when the browser navigates to the website. The display shows key performance metrics such as the response time of that request and other metrics. By clicking on the popup it opens up and shows more detailed performance metrics. If you are using ASP.NET MVC, it provides you with a break down of all the time spent in your controllers and actions down to the database, all for the specific request that you just executed. Glimpse captures it all.

Get glimpse here: http://getglimpse.com/

And read a blog post from Scott Hanselman that is titled something like “If you are not using Glimpse with ASP.NET, you are an idiot!”:

http://www.hanselman.com/blog/IfYoureNotUsingGlimpseWithASPNETForDebuggingAndProfilingYoureMissingOut.aspx

You can even try Glimpse on the ASP.NET MVC Music Store Application live in the browser here:

http://play.getglimpse.com/

 

Once a request is executed, the HUD shows metrics at the bottom:

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Clicking the Glimpse bar shows more detailed data:

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Clicking the Glimpse Icon opens Glimpse as a full window and gives you a lot of information about topics such as Cache, Configuration, Environment, Execution, Metadata, Requests, Routes, SQL and many more. Think of it as the browser developer tools on steroids!

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You can even look at the sql statements that have been executed as a result of the current request:

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I mention Glimpse in this blog post because If your application sends telemetry data to application insights, it will catch these as well. All the Application Insights data shows up in the new “Application Insights” tab.

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Additionally, existing tabs such as the “Timeline” tab are enriched with telemetry data from Application Insights:

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PowerBI

PowerBI is a self-service BI solution that lives in the Office 365 evironment. It is thought to be a tool for powerusers who want to analyze data without the need for a complex BI project. It allows a user with Office-Skills to build reports and dashboards on a predefined data set. PowerBI delivers a very compelling user experience and enables the user to create complex data analysis tools with just a few clicks. In order to create a dashboard in PowerBI, a data source must be connected. The data sources in PowerBI are called DataSets and can be selected from a catalog. Luckily, connecting PowerBI to an Application Insights is a matter of minutes.

In this post I will show you how I connected the Application Insights instance that monitors my blog www.manuelmeyer.net to PowerBI.

First, open PowerBI and click “Add new DataSet”. Then choose “get data from a service”. Click Application Insights and click connect. This will open the dialog where you need to enter the information about the Application Insights instance:

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Once the data is entered, click the button and give it a minute.

Then, suddenly, a beautiful dashboard appears!

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Take a moment to consider that I did not do ANYTHING to get this dashboard except for hooking up the Application Insights instance to PowerBI (and adding the image of myself…).

It really surprised me how much value I got very little effort.

Of course I could live out all my creativity and go on a wild dashboarding spree from here! 🙂