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Data collectors allow you to supplement business transaction and transaction analytics data with application data. The application data can add context to business transaction performance issues. For example, they show the values of particular parameters or return value for business transactions affected by poor performance. 

This data shows the business context affected by performance issues, such as the specific user, order, or product.  

Types of Data Collectors

Data collectors come in two forms:

  • Method invocation data collectors capture code data such as method arguments, variables, and return values.
  • HTTP data collectors capture the URLs, parameter values, headers, and cookies of HTTP messages exchanged in a business transaction. 

For information on how transaction analytics uses data collectors, see Collect Transaction Analytics Data.

View Collected Data

When applied to business transactions, the data collectors supplement the information shown in transaction snapshots. The information captured by HTTP data collectors appears in the HTTP DATA and COOKIES sections, while method invocation data appears in the Business Data section. To view collected data, navigate to the Transaction Snapshots window. Double click on the transaction you want to view data for, then click Drill Down.

Configure a Data Collector

To configure data collectors, you need the Configure Diagnostic Data Collectors permission.
You can add a data collector directly from a transaction snapshot from the right-click menu for a method in a call graph. 

Alternatively, you can add it manually from the Configuration > Instrumentation page. Click the Data Collector tab and click the Add button below the Method Invocation Data Collectors panel or the HTTP Request Data Collectors panel.

The new data collector configuration window appears as follows: 

Note the following platform-specific considerations applicable to data collectors:

  • For the C/C++ agent, you can create a method data collector using the appd_bt_add_user_data function(), not the Controller UI as described here. See Agent SDK for C and C++.
  • For the Node.js agent, you can create a method data collector only using the addSnapshotData() Node.js API, not the Controller UI as described here. See Node.js Agent API Reference.
  • For the Python agent, you can create a method data collector using the add_snapshot_data() Python agent API, not the Controller UI. See Python Agent API Reference.
  • For PHP method data collectors, only the "with a Class Name that" option is valid. Also, you cannot add a method data collector to a standalone PHP function.

The general steps in configuring a data collector are: 

  1. Identifying the method on which to capture data. To do this, you define the method signature and optionally, filters based on the value of a code point in the method (such as return value or argument). 
  2. Specifying the actual code point that serves as the source of the data. 
  3. If the data collector applies to business transactions, choose the applicable business transactions. 

Typically, creating a data collector requires knowledge of the code on which you are setting up the collector, whether based on access to the source code for the application or its documentation. For some application environments, including JVM 1.5 and .NET, you will need to restart the JVM or application server if your method invocation data collector results in modifications to instrumentation configuration (class name, method name, method parameters, and so on). 

Configuration Notes

  • The Apply to new Business Transactions option applies the collector to business transactions created after you have configured this collector. Otherwise, the data collector only applies to the business transactions you select in the subsequent data collector configuration screen. 
  • For Class, select the match condition that the data collector can use to identify the class, such as class name, implemented interface name, and so on. If matching by class name, use the fully qualified name of the class, as appropriate for the application platform. For example, the form of the equals field value would be: 
    • In Java: com.appdynamics.model.Item
    • In .NET: Bookstore.Item
    • In PHP: book
  • Is this Method Overloaded: If this is an overloaded method, add parameters that identify the signature. You will need to create a data collector definition for each form of the method for which you want to capture data. For example, given the overloaded method in the following table, to capture data only for the second two forms, you would need to create two data collectors. The parameters to configure would be as shown:

    SignatureParameters to configure
    • None
    getName(int studentId)
    • Param Index 0: java.lang.int
    getName(int studentId, string name)
    • Param Index 0: java.lang.int 
    • Param Index 1: java.lang.String
  • You can refine the method selection to meet specific conditions. If you configure more than one match condition, all match conditions must be satisfied by the request for the data collector to be applied to the request.  

  • Once you identify the method, specify the code point from which you want to capture data, such as the method return value, argument, or a value captured by getter chain on the invoked object. You configure this code point in the Specify the Data to Collect from this Method Invocation section of the configuration settings.

  • HTTP data collector can capture data from HTTP parameters, request attributes, cookies, and more. Notice that the Content-Length HTTP header is already captured in AppDynamics as the Average Request Size metric. However, you may choose to configure a data collector for this header to have the value appear in transaction snapshots, giving you insight, for example, on whether message size corresponds to slow performance. 

  • You can configure multiple data collectors. The effect of multiple data collectors is cumulative; if you add a custom data collector that does not include collection of the URL HTTP request attribute, for example, but keep the Default HTTP Request Data Collector configuration in which the URL is configured to be collected, the URL is collected.

Java Data Collector Example

In this example, we'll set up a data collector on a Java application. We want to create a data collector on the method getCartTotal(), shown in the following snippet, along with a method we'll use later as a data source, getUser().   

package com.appdynamicspilot.model;
public class Cart implements java.io.Serializable {
	private Double fakeAmount = 0.0;
	private User user;	
	public User getUser() {
		return user;
    public Double getCartTotal() {
		if (fakeAmount == 0.0) {
			double total = 0;
			if (items != null) {
				for (Item item : items) {
					total += item.getPrice();
			return total;
		} return fakeAmount;

To set up a sample data collector for this application:

  1. Identify the method using the fully qualified name of the class and getCartTotal as the method. 
  2.  Configure the return value data source as follows: 
  3. Choose return value as the source type. Often, the return values are rendered as strings using the toString() method. Since the return value in our example is numeric (a double), we can use a method in the Java base packages to render the number as a long value:
  4. Capture the user name on the invoked object. The Cart class instantiates a User object based on the following class in the same package as Cart. Notice that the User class includes a method for returning the name of the user, getCustomerName()

    package com.appdynamicspilot.model;
    public class User implements java.io.Serializable {
    	private String customerName = null;
    	public String getCustomerName() {
    		return customerName;
    	public void setCustomerName(String customerName) {
    		this.customerName = customerName;

    Using a getter chain, you can identify this method as another data source in the same data collector. For this case, select Invoked Object as the source of the data. The getter chain getUser().getCustomerName() the operation on the invoked object:

    For an HTTP data collector, the user name is sometime available as a variable value (e.g., userid) in the HTTP query or cookie. By creating a data collector on userid, you can similarly identify affected users in transaction snapshots for slow transactions with an HTTP data collector.

  5. Optionally apply a capture condition. Our sample application differentiates users by types that correspond to service levels, diamond, platinum, and so on, as shown in the following snippet of the User class:

    package com.appdynamicspilot.model;
    public class User implements java.io.Serializable {
    	public CUSTOMER_TYPE getCustomerType() {
    		return this.customerType;

    To capture the user name and the cart total for only gold level users, you could add a match condition that collects data from the Invoked Object and uses the following getter chain as the operation on the invoked object, using the condition Equals GOLD:

  6. For the PHP agent, if a method return value collected by MIDC is not stored in any variable then it is seen as null in both snapshot and Analytics data.

When complete, transaction snapshots for slow, very slow, and stalled transactions, the transaction snapshots will include user data that shows the user name and cart total amount for GOLD customers. 

PHP HTTP Data Collector Example

This example shows how the PHP Agent can be configured to capture information from an HTTP request. Note that data collectors cannot be added to a standalone PHP function.

In the HTTP Data Collector configuration specify the request data that you want to display in the snapshot.

This configuration captures two HTTP parameters, the URL and session ID, the cookie name, the session keys and the headers:

In the transaction snapshots, the URL and Session ID are displayed In the SUMMARY tab, and the configured HTTP parameters, session keys and headers in the HTTP PARAMS tab, along with the request method and response code:

The cookie name and value are shown in the COOKIES tab.

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