Automatic Instrumentation

Automatic instrumentation with Java uses a Java agent JAR that can be attached to any Java 8+ application. It dynamically injects bytecode to capture telemetry from many popular libraries and frameworks. It can be used to capture telemetry data at the “edges” of an app or service, such as inbound requests, outbound HTTP calls, database calls, and so on. To learn how to manually instrument your service or app code, see Manual instrumentation.


  1. Download opentelemetry-javaagent.jar from Releases of the opentelemetry-java-instrumentation repo. The JAR file contains the agent and all automatic instrumentation packages.

  2. Place the JAR in your preferred directory and launch it with your app:

    $ java -javaagent:path/to/opentelemetry-javaagent.jar -jar myapp.jar

Configuring the agent

The agent is highly configurable.

One option is to pass configuration properties via the -D flag. In this example, a service name and zipkin exporter for traces are configured:

java -javaagent:path/to/opentelemetry-javaagent.jar \ \
     -Dotel.traces.exporter=zipkin \
     -jar myapp.jar

You can also use environment variables to configure the agent:

OTEL_SERVICE_NAME=your-service-name \
java -javaagent:path/to/opentelemetry-javaagent.jar \
     -jar myapp.jar

You can also supply a Java properties file and load configuration values from there:

java -javaagent:path/to/opentelemetry-javaagent.jar \
     -Dotel.javaagent.configuration-file=path/to/properties/ \
     -jar myapp.jar


java -javaagent:path/to/opentelemetry-javaagent.jar \
     -jar myapp.jar

To see the full range of configuration options, see Agent Configuration.

Supported libraries, frameworks, application services, and JVMs

Many popular components support automatic instrumentation. For the full list, see Supported libraries, frameworks, application services, and JVMs.


You can pass the -Dotel.javaagent.debug=true parameter to the agent to see debug logs. Note that these are quite verbose.

Next steps

After you have automatic instrumentation configured for your app or service, you might want to annotate selected methods or add manual instrumentation to collect custom telemetry data.

Agent Configuration


Using instrumentation annotations with a Java agent.