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Setting a ScopeManager

Setting the Tracer’s ScopeManager to handle the active Span should be a one-time operation, and hence most of the time should be provided at construction time:

import io.opentracing.ScopeManager;
import io.opentracing.Tracer;

ScopeManager scopeManager = new ScopeManagerImpl();
Tracer tracer = new CustomTracer(..., scopeManager);

However, in most of cases Tracer implementations will provide a sensible, useful, default choice, and the user will not need to provide one themselves (for example, a common default is opentracing.util.ThreadLocalScopeManager, which stores the active Span in thread-local storage).

The user only needs to provide the ScopeManager manually when specialized behavior is needed, such as leveraging referencing count for handling Span lifetime for instrumenting asynchronous frameworks (Akka or Play, for instance).

Scope objects.

Scope objects act as containers of the current active Span, implementing the Closeable interface to be signaled when they should stop being the active instance for the current context (usually a thread), and optionally closing the contained Span along the way (this is specified through a finishOnClose parameter for the related methods).

Tracer.SpanBuilder.startActiveSpan(boolean finishOnClose) will create a new Span and will automatically set is as the active one for the current context.

import io.opentracing.Scope;

// Strongly encouraged to use them under try statements,
// to prevent ending up with the incorrect active Span
// in case of error.
try (Scope scope = tracer.buildSpan("foo").startActive(true)) {

  // The 'foo' Span is finished at this point.

Automatically any active Span will be used as parent of newly created Spans (through either start() or startActive()), without need to explicitly specify the relationship:

try (Scope scope = tracer.buildSpan("parent").startActive()) {
    try (Scope scope = tracer.buildSpan("child").startActive()) {
        // "child" is automatically a child of "parent".

It is possible the override this behavior, and explicitly provide a parent:

Span parent = getRequestSpan();
try (Scope scope = tracer.buildSpan("foo")
                      .startActive(true)) {

And it is also possible to totally ignore any active Span (thus creating a parentless instance):

try (Scope scope = tracer.buildSpan("foo")
                      .startActive(true)) {

Finally, Tracer.activeSpan() exposed the active Span for the current context, returning null if none is set at the moment.

if (tracer.activeSpan() != null) {

Advanced usage

Most of the time the user will want to deactivate and finish the Span at the same time. However, there are cases when the user may need to set it as active only temporary (in code using callbacks in a thread pool, or acting as part of a middleware layer, for example). For this, finishSpanOnClose can be set to false:

try (Scope scope = tracer.buildSpan("foo").startActive(false)) {

// The 'foo' Span will be finished at this point.

However, most of the times an already existing Span will be activated instead, and this can be done through ScopeManager.activate(boolean finishOnClose) directly:

void callbackHandler(Span span) {
    try (Scope scope = tracer.scopeManager().activate(span, false) {

When the operation finally reaches its end, the Span could be directly finished through Span.finish(), or by using ScopeManager.activate(false)).

Thread Safety

At the moment of writing this, the Specification is still not making mention of ScopeManager nor of its related siblings. However, it is expected that ScopeManager is safe to be used from different threads, while Scope is not - this is because, in Java, Scope represents the active state for the current context (usually a thread), which cannot be naturally, automatically propagated to other contexts (usually other threads).

Consider passing Span instances between threads, or else create a new one for each operation happening in a different thread.