Resource SDK

Status: Stable

A Resource is an immutable representation of the entity producing telemetry as Attributes. For example, a process producing telemetry that is running in a container on Kubernetes has a Pod name, it is in a namespace and possibly is part of a Deployment which also has a name. All three of these attributes can be included in the Resource. Note that there are certain “standard attributes” that have prescribed meanings.

The primary purpose of resources as a first-class concept in the SDK is decoupling of discovery of resource information from exporters. This allows for independent development and easy customization for users that need to integrate with closed source environments. The SDK MUST allow for creation of Resources and for associating them with telemetry.

When used with distributed tracing, a resource can be associated with the TracerProvider when the TracerProvider is created. That association cannot be changed later. When associated with a TracerProvider, all Spans produced by any Tracer from the provider MUST be associated with this Resource.

Analogous to distributed tracing, when used with metrics, a resource can be associated with a MeterProvider. When associated with a MeterProvider, all metrics produced by any Meter from the provider will be associated with this Resource.

SDK-provided resource attributes

The SDK MUST provide access to a Resource with at least the attributes listed at Semantic Attributes with SDK-provided Default Value. This resource MUST be associated with a TracerProvider or MeterProvider if another resource was not explicitly specified.

Note: This means that it is possible to create and associate a resource that does not have all or any of the SDK-provided attributes present. However, that does not happen by default. If a user wants to combine custom attributes with the default resource, they can use Merge with their custom resource or specify their attributes by implementing Custom resource detectors instead of explicitly associating a resource.

Resource creation

The SDK must support two ways to instantiate new resources. Those are:


The interface MUST provide a way to create a new resource, from Attributes. Examples include a factory method or a constructor for a resource object. A factory method is recommended to enable support for cached objects.

Required parameters:

  • Attributes
  • [since 1.4.0] schema_url (optional): Specifies the Schema URL that should be recorded in the emitted resource. If the schema_url parameter is unspecified then the created resource will have an empty Schema URL.


The interface MUST provide a way for an old resource and an updating resource to be merged into a new resource.

Note: This is intended to be utilized for merging of resources whose attributes come from different sources, such as environment variables, or metadata extracted from the host or container.

The resulting resource MUST have all attributes that are on any of the two input resources. If a key exists on both the old and updating resource, the value of the updating resource MUST be picked (even if the updated value is empty).

The resulting resource will have the Schema URL calculated as follows:

  • If the old resource’s Schema URL is empty then the resulting resource’s Schema URL will be set to the Schema URL of the updating resource,
  • Else if the updating resource’s Schema URL is empty then the resulting resource’s Schema URL will be set to the Schema URL of the old resource,
  • Else if the Schema URLs of the old and updating resources are the same then that will be the Schema URL of the resulting resource,
  • Else this is a merging error (this is the case when the Schema URL of the old and updating resources are not empty and are different). The resulting resource is undefined, and its contents are implementation-specific.

Required parameters:

  • the old resource
  • the updating resource whose attributes take precedence

The empty resource

It is recommended, but not required, to provide a way to quickly create an empty resource.

Detecting resource information from the environment

Custom resource detectors related to generic platforms (e.g. Docker, Kubernetes) or vendor specific environments (e.g. EKS, AKS, GKE) MUST be implemented as packages separate from the SDK.

Resource detector packages MUST provide a method that returns a resource. This can then be associated with TracerProvider or MeterProvider instances as described above.

Resource detector packages MAY detect resource information from multiple possible sources and merge the result using the Merge operation described above.

Resource detection logic is expected to complete quickly since this code will be run during application initialization. Errors should be handled as specified in the Error Handling principles. Note the failure to detect any resource information MUST NOT be considered an error, whereas an error that occurs during an attempt to detect resource information SHOULD be considered an error.

Resource detectors that populate resource attributes according to OpenTelemetry semantic conventions MUST ensure that the resource has a Schema URL set to a value that matches the semantic conventions. Empty Schema URL SHOULD be used if the detector does not populate the resource with any known attributes that have a semantic convention or if the detector does not know what attributes it will populate (e.g. the detector that reads the attributes from environment values will not know what Schema URL to use). If multiple detectors are combined and the detectors use different non-empty Schema URL it MUST be an error since it is impossible to merge such resources. The resulting resource is undefined, and its contents are implementation specific.

Specifying resource information via an environment variable

The SDK MUST extract information from the OTEL_RESOURCE_ATTRIBUTES environment variable and merge this, as the secondary resource, with any resource information provided by the user, i.e. the user provided resource information has higher priority.

The OTEL_RESOURCE_ATTRIBUTES environment variable will contain of a list of key value pairs, and these are expected to be represented in a format matching to the W3C Baggage, except that additional semi-colon delimited metadata is not supported, i.e.: key1=value1,key2=value2. All attribute values MUST be considered strings and characters outside the baggage-octet range MUST be percent-encoded.

Resource operations

Resources are immutable. Thus, in addition to resource creation, only the following operations should be provided:

Retrieve attributes

The SDK should provide a way to retrieve a read only collection of attributes associated with a resource.

There is no need to guarantee the order of the attributes.

The most common operation when retrieving attributes is to enumerate over them. As such, it is recommended to optimize the resulting collection for fast enumeration over other considerations such as a way to quickly retrieve a value for a attribute with a specific key.