Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Parameterizing ApplicationInsights.config

I've been working on a lot of web applications in Azure recently, and we're using Application Insights to analyze logs and instrument events in the application. Additionally, we're using MSDeploy to deploy all of our applications as we're trying to get to the point of having Continuous Delivery on-premise. Because we use multiple environments, we need to use the parameters.xml file and SetParameters files to set parameters at deployment time, meaning that we also need to parameterize the InstrumentationKey used by Application Insights to determine which instance of App Insights gets the instrumentation for which application.

This is a bit of a challenge because the XPath support for the parameters.xml file is incomplete and leaves something to be desired. At first glance, I tried to use the naive XPath expression to parameterize our InstrumentationKey:


I realized that this wasn't working after checking our deployments, so after some Googling, I found the recommendation that to parameterize an *element* rather than an attribute, you need to use "/text()" in your XPath expression (which makes sense if you know enough about XPath and XQuery). So I tried it:


Still didn't work. Then I was stumped for a while and let things simmer.

After a couple more hours and getting frustrated, it hit me: when parameterizing another element a few weeks prior, I ran into issues because a parent element of the one that I wanted to parameterize overrode the default namespace. I checked the ApplicationInsights.config file, and sure enough, the default namespace was the non-empty namespace. I had to use a wildcard to solve the previous problem, so I tried the following:


Still didn't work, much to my surprise this time. After a little bit more Googling around, I found out that this time it was because the *root* element itself used a non-empty namespace, and overrode the default. I stumbled across this response by Vishal Joshi to a comment on one of his blog posts, which included a suggestion for it using something I didn't even know you could do with XPath (and I've actually got quite a bit of experience using XPath): use the local-name query operator to match only on local name rather than fully qualified name. If you're querying a document that uses an empty default namespace, they're both the same, hence why the simple match expressions work 99% of the time. Updating my query to this:


... worked like a charm!


Unknown said...

Sounds like this saved me a lot of hours. Thanks for taking the time to write it up!

Dylan Hall said...

Thank you. I owe you a beer, this saved me hours!