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Basic Syntax

A search query is composed of one or more expressions. Each expression can be a comparison between a key and a value, or a logical combination of other expressions.


You can also enter a seach value without a key to search on a default key. For logs, this would be the message and on traces it would be the span_name.


Any custom attributes you send in logs and traces can be filters on as well.

Keys and Values

Keys are identifiers, which can include any combination of alphanumeric characters, underscores (_), periods (.), dashes (-), and asterisks (*).

Values can be strings with any character. In order to use spaces or special characters you must enclose the string in double quotes (").


You can use * in values to match on part of a pattern.

  • span_name=gorm.* matches all span_name values that start with gorm.
  • span_name=*.Query matches all span_name values that end with .Query
  • span_name=*orm* matches all values that contain orm

Comparisons are made using operators. The following operators are supported:

  • = - Equal to
  • != - Not equal to
  • < - Less than
  • <= - Less than or equal to
  • > - Greater than
  • >= - Greater than or equal to
Exist & Not Exist

You can search if a key exists or does not exist with the exists operator. For example, if you wanted all the traces with a connected session, you would do use the following query:

secure_session_id exists

The exists also works with the not keyword. An example is when you only want the root level spans when searching traces, then you would use this query

parent_span_id not exists
Logical Combinations

Expressions can be combined using the logical operators AND, OR, and NOT.

  • AND - Both expressions must be true
  • OR - At least one of the expressions must be true
  • NOT - The following expression must be false

Note that there is an implicit AND between all filters unless you specify an OR directly. For example:

service_name=private-graph span_name=gorm.Query

This is equivalent to:

service_name=private-graph AND span_name=gorm.Query
Grouping Expressions

Expressions can be grouped using parentheses ( and ). For example:

(key1=value1 AND key2=value2) OR key3=value3

You can also use parentheses to group values in an expression:

service_name=(private-graph OR public-graph)
Query Examples

Here are some examples of valid search queries:

  • service_name=private-graph
  • service_name=public-graph AND span_name!=gorm.Query
  • service_name=worker OR span_name=gorm.Query
  • service_name!=private-graph
  • (service_name=public-graph AND span_name=gorm.Query) OR duration>=100000
Search Segments

All of our search pages allow you to save a search and reuse it later. We call these segments. Create segments for common sets of filters you want to use across Highlight.

More Reading

See the links below for more details on searching in specific parts of the product.