In the previous article I showed a couple of methods to merge Extended Event Log files. In that article I mentioned the ability to customize the display in the GUI for the merged log files.
Today, I am going to explore how to configure the GUI with filters and different column sets or orders. To proceed, it will require a refresher course via the prior article. If you need a primer in how to merge the XEL files, or to open the XEL files from within the GUI, I recommend taking the time now to read that prior article.
Getting Sticky Again
This should be a rather quick foray into the world of the GUI and how to customize. Just bear in mind that it is a small building block.
Taking up from the prior article, I will continue to use the same sample session and sample data.
Let’s start with a screenshot where we left off the last time:
By itself, this is not the prettiest of layouts. Sure there is good information, but the layout is rather simple and leaves one wanting more. The “more” comes easily enough after some familiarity with the GUI. Suppose you desire to change the order of the columns presented in this view, or to even select different columns, there are two methods to achieve that goal. The first option would be to do as shown here:
By right clicking an empty space in the title bar, a context menu will be made available. There are several options here that can be a bit fun to peruse. I will just focus on the “Choose Columns” option for now.
The alternative for this method is to look in the toolbar. There will be an XE specific toolbar available when looking at an XE log file. In this toolbar there is a “Choose Columns” button. This method will get us to the same end result as the first.
Selecting the “Choose Columns” from either method just presented will open a new window such as the following:
This kind of screen should be fairly familiar and easily discernible. One the left is a set of available columns that can be added in the display. On the right is the list of columns currently being displayed in tabular format. In between there is a set of buttons to add, remove, add all, or remove all columns. In the top right is a means of re-ordering the columns as presented in the display table. Pick a few and sort the columns to a suitable display mode and you are all set.
Recall from the image showing method one that there is an option to remove the column. This same function can be performed from the context menu or from this “Choose Columns” window.
For the order of the columns, there is another fancy means to do that as well other than through the “Choose Columns” window. Columns can be dragged and dropped from the initial screen to change the presentation order easily enough. Sometimes it is far easier to use the “Choose Columns” window to do that. Pick your poison here and run with it.
This is fantastic if the manipulation of the display settings is a one-off adventure. What if you need to do this multiple times? Maybe, just maybe, this needs to be done for 100 servers. The process I have just shown can become exceedingly tedious. In addition, every time an XEL file is opened, it defaults back to the same settings I have already shown. What do you do in cases like that?
Beyond using a script (the recommended method by the way), there is an alternative.
The alternative is found in the toolbar discussed earlier in this article. The option is “Display Settings.” After picking the columns and the order and getting the display dialed in just right, the view can be saved. The view settings will be saved as an XML file with the extension of viewsetting. This view can then be used to immediately apply to a freshly opened log file. Sure it is still an extra step or two to open that view and can still become a bit tedious, but it is far better than resetting the view every time. And a bonus is that the saved viewsetting file will also save merged columns, groupings, aggregations, column order, and filters defined in the view.
Then again, all of this is easily achieved through a tsql script which is far more scalable when dealing with multiple servers or the need to review the data more than once. The choice is yours when using XE.
Though I mentioned the creation of a filter for the displayed log data, I will not be delving into that topic today. It would be a very suitable exercise for the reader to figure out how to apply a filter through this tool. Or wait until the next time when that topic will be covered along with aggregations and groups. In the meantime, I recommend trying to figure it out with a little picking and plucking through the GUI-ness.
This has been another article in the 60 Days of XE series. If you have missed any of the articles, or just want a refresher, check out the TOC.