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Create Simple Charts and Dashboards

SignalFx makes it easy for you to quickly add simple charts to a new or existing dashboard. For example, you might want to put together a new draft dashboard with simple charts to share<share-charts-dashboards> with others. If you’re troubleshooting a problem, you can add charts for various metrics to a dashboard, share it with others, and then close it without even saving it. (Of course, you can save it if you plan to refer to it in the future, edit the charts to add analytics, etc.) You can also quickly add simple charts to an existing dashboard.


For information about developing more complex charts, including other techniques for creating them, see Planning and Creating Charts.

Finding metrics and events

The first step in creating a simple chart is to use the Metrics Finder, which lets you specify metrics and events to display in charts on a new or existing dashboard.

Displaying the Metrics Finder

  • To create a new dashboard and begin adding charts to it with specified metrics and events, click the New Dashboard icon on the navigation bar. (You can also select New ‣ Dashboard from the actions menu.)



    If you see an asterisk on the New Dashboard icon, you have already added charts to a new dashboard and haven’t saved the dashboard yet. You can still follow the rest of the instructions in this section to add more charts to the unsaved dashboard.

  • To add charts to an existing dashboard, open the dashboard. If you don’t see the Metrics Finder sidebar on the right, click Add charts.

You’ll see the Metrics Finder sidebar.



If you deselect the Metrics checkbox to search only for events, none of the search options discussed in the following sections are available; you must enter text manually to find matching detector or custom event names. Similarly, once you add a filter, you can search only for metrics, not for events.

Using a suggested search filter

If you have integrated one or more AWS account(s) with SignalFx, or if you are using the SignalFx collectd agent and associated collectd plugins, the easiest way to begin your search is to use one of the suggested search filters. Click AWS or collectd to see a list of AWS namespaces or collectd plugins that you can filter on. (You will see these tokens only if you are sending in AWS or collectd metrics.)


Administrators can see a Settings icon next to the “Suggested Search Filters” text, which they can use to create custom suggested filters. If these have been implemented in your organization, you will see additional filters, or different filters, in the list of suggested search filters.


In the example below, we clicked collectd and, in the modal list that was displayed, we searched for metrics related to memory.


Once you have selected a namespace or plugin, you will see a blue token showing the filter that has been applied, as well as the metrics that are available for the relevant AWS service or for the collectd plugin.


After choosing a suggested search filter, you can add more filters by using the search capability.

To see an example of creating charts from these results, see Adding charts - an example.

Displaying a list of metrics matching a search term

To find dimensions, properties or tags that you may want to filter on, as well as metrics or events that match the entered text, type the search term in the search box. This is generally most useful if you don’t know the exact name of the metric you are searching for, but know that it contains a particular word or element, such as cpu.

For example, if you want to filter by some element related to “host”, type host. As you type, possible matches will appear below. This search will return filters for:

  • Anything with “host” in the dimension key or value
  • Anything with “host” in a property key or value
  • Anything tagged “host”

The same search will also return metrics whose name includes “host” and events whose type includes “host”.


Similarly, if you are looking for a particular host, searching for the host name will return results that let you specify that individual host as a filter. In this example, we searched for a host name “i-545e7586” and then selected it to add a filter.


When a list of metrics and events is displayed, a maximum of 100 results are initially displayed; you can scroll down to display more.

Using tab completion when entering search terms

Metric names commonly make use of the period or dot (.) as a delimiter between successive terms, such as cpu.utilization. In some cases - for example, with StatsD or Graphite metric names - the number of terms can be large, because the metric name includes information like the metric type, environment, application, or host from which the measurement is being taken, such as

To easily find these types of metrics, press Tab after entering a partial search term. Pressing Tab will display a dropdown list of terms matching the text you have entered so far; as you continue to type, the dropdown list changes to reflect the text currently in the search field. In many cases, you may be able to find the metric you want simply by entering the first part of the metric name, then hitting Tab successively in combination with the arrow keys.

You can combine the wildcard character (*) with tab completion to search for metrics that match a particular pattern. For example, typing cassandra.*.thr and then pressing Tab displays a list of metrics, from which you could choose cassandra.*.threadpool. Then type a dot and press Tab to further narrow down the list. You can wind up with a search term like cassandra.*.threadpool.CounterMutationStage.completed. As you narrow down your search term, a list of all the hosts using this metric, such as cassandra.prod_01.threadpool.CounterMutationStage.completed, cassandra.dev_03.threadpool.CounterMutationStage.completed, and so on will be displayed. You can then select one or more metrics and add them to a single chart or multiple charts on the dashboard. You can see more information on Graphite wildcard conventions here.

Creating charts or event feeds

When you see one or more metrics or events you want to add to your dashboard, you have the following options.

  • To add a chart for a single metric, click the metric name.
  • To add an event feed for a single event type, click the event name.
  • To add multiple charts and event feeds:
  • Check the box next to each item. If there are fewer than 100 results, you can also click Select all.
  • Click Multiple charts.

Each chart will contain either a single metric or an event feed.

  • To add a single chart containing multiple plots for metrics or events:
  • Check the box next to each item. If there are fewer than 100 results, you can also click Select all.
  • Click Add single chart.

If you select both metrics and events, or select multiple events, the chart places each event on a plot and adds event markers to the chart. For more information on event markers, see About event markers.

Filters selected in the Metrics Finder are applied to plot lines in the charts you create.

Adding charts - an example

In Using a suggested search filter, we clicked collectd and, in the modal list that was displayed, we searched for metrics related to memory.


To continue with this example, we clicked Select All and then clicked Multiple Charts to add several charts to the dashboard, one for each metric.



We also added all the metrics to a single chart, and scrolled to the bottom of the dashboard to see it.



New charts are always placed at the bottom of a dashboard. Depending on the number of charts on your dashboard, you may need to scroll to see charts after you add them. Hovering over the top edge of a chart in a dashboard displays a control for moving the chart. You can also resize a chart by clicking and dragging the corners or the side and bottom edges.

Applying analytics to your charts

In many cases, the display of raw data in a chart is more useful after some analytics functions have been applied. To quickly apply basic analytics functions to a chart, click the Add analytics icon.



If you are looking at a chart that already has applied analytics, or if any of the plot lines are not metrics, select Customize analytics from the menu.

After you select an analytic to apply, the chart is updated and a check mark is displayed next to it in the menu. If a chart is plotting multiple metrics (plot lines), the analytic is applied to each one. In this illustration, we chose Average.


You can choose from the various menu items to see their effect; only one analytic at a time can be applied. If you want to return to the original chart with no analytics applied, select None.

If you want to view or edit the analytics in the Chart Builder, select Customize Analytics.

Example 1

In this illustration, two charts are shown with and without analytics applied.

  • In the top row, the Average analytics function was applied to the chart on the right. The plot line shows the average value of memory.buffered for each time period on the chart.
  • In the second row, the 95th percentile analytics function was applied. The plot line shows the the 95th percentile value for for each time period on the chart.

Example 2

In this illustration, the Simple Moving Average analytics function was applied, over a one-hour period. Unlike the Average function, which shows only one plot line, this chart shows the average value of each each jvm.heap.used plot line over the previous hour. As you can see, this function provides a smoothing effect for the data.


Next steps for new or unsaved dashboards

After adding charts to a new dashboard, you have several options.

  • Share the dashboard, or one or more charts on the dashboard, with others

    For example, other people might be interested in the dashboard or charts for troubleshooting an issue. You can share a dashboard even if you don’t save it.

  • Save the dashboard

    If you created a set of charts you want to refer to in the future, save the dashboard.

  • Exit the dashboard without saving it

    If you aren’t ready to save or share the dashboard (for example, if you want to copy more charts to the dashboard), you can navigate elsewhere in SignalFx. A message will be displayed indicating that the contents of the dashboard will be available for a specific period of time, and the New Dashboard icon changes (see New or unsaved dashboard).

  • Clear the dashboard

    When you have finished working with the dashboard, click Clear to remove all the charts and return the dashboard to an empty state.

Saving a new dashboard

If you created a new dashboard to contain charts you just created, the dashboard might be serving as just a temporary workspace. For example, you might want to create a draft dashboard with a few charts for troubleshooting a problem; after sharing the dashboard, you may no longer need it, in which case you can just close it without saving. However, if you want to keep the dashboard for future use, click Save as.

You’ll be asked to specify a dashboard name and the dashboard group in which to save the new dashboard. You can save the dashboard to an existing custom or user dashboard group, or you can create a new dashboard group. If you create a new group, the group is added as a Custom Dashboard group. For information on types of dashboard groups, see Dashboard Basics.

What’s next?

To learn how to modify and configure charts, including applying additional analytics functions to make them more informative, see Plotting Metrics and Events in the Chart Builder and Gaining Insight Through Analytics.

To learn more about event feeds, including how to build multiple feeds into a single chart, see Adding an event feed chart to a dashboard.