Grafana 7.4 preps platform for next generation alerting, introduces content policy support

Grafana Loki

Analytics and monitoring platform Grafana is now available in version 7.4, giving teams the chance to play around with some experimental visualisations and data manipulation features.

Among the still-in development additions is a new time series visualisation panel that promises better performance than its graph panel equivalent. Using the panel architecture introduced in the last major release, it also features ways to use more than two y-axes, soft min and max axis limits, and comes with line interpolation modes as well as an automatic, data-density driven points display.

Node graph panel visualisation uses the data included in data source responses to visualise directed graphs or networks in dashboards or the Explore section of the tool. The current iteration only uses it in the AWS X-Ray panel to show service map data, though more will inevitably follow once users have kicked the tires a bit.

Behind the scenes Grafana is currently working on what it calls “next generation alerting”. Among the already visible results of this initiative are server-side expressions. The still experimental feature is meant to let developers “manipulate data returned from backend data source queries”, though the main use case involves multi-dimensional data sources which will be needed for future alerting enhancements.

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Version 7.4, however, isn’t completely without improvements in that area: it includes, for example, capabilities to inject alert label data as template variables into notifications so that recipients get a better picture of what’s happening.

Other notable stable additions are support for content security policies built for detecting and mitigating things like XSS attacks, and new navigation capabilities. The latter allow users to jump from the trace view of a span directly to the relevant logs for Tempo, Jaeger, and Zipkin data sources.

Grafana 7.4 also includes support for so-called exemplars, a feature that will be part of Prometheus 2.25 and provides ways to link metrics to example traces, and new transformations for sorting data and filtering it directly in Grafana. Teams working with the enterprise edition will find new audit log events, functionality to export usage insights to Loki, and unicode support in reports available to them.

Upgrading to the new release should be relatively straightforward. However, developers using custom AngularJS controllers might have to check if their creation still works as expected, as the Grafana team has upgraded to version 1.8.2 of the JavaScript framework. In it, pre-assigned bindings can’t be used anymore, so some manual adjustments might be needed. Tips for that can be found in the documentation.

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