Lab 5 - Building your first dashboard

Lab Goal

To build your first basic dashboard from the basic template you created in the last lab using the Perses project.

MyFirstDashboard - Starting point for this lab

In the previous lab you explored the sections and elements used in a dashboard specification resource. To start this lab, open a browser to the default dashboard found in our WorkshopProject as shown:

Intermezzo - Evaluating the end results

If you want to just upload a fully completed lab result (basically cheating!) to see what the final dashboard looks like without completing the lab work, just apply the file workshop-myfirstdashboard-lab5.json found in the Perses Easy Install project. . It's a resource defining a dashboard as worked out in this lab and can be applied as follows:
								$ ./support/bin/percli apply -f support/workshop-myfirstdashboard-lab5.json

								object "Dashboard" "MyFirstDashboard"
								     has been applied in the
								    project "WorkshopProject"

First dashboard - About the instance variable list

You will find at the top a drop down menu that contains all the instance values we can target in our queries. This is how variables are defined and this is a list of instance values we can then use with a variable in our queries (more on this later). Default is

First dashboard - About the jobs variable list

A second variable list at the top is shown as a drop down menu containing all the job values we can target in our queries. This is how variables are defined and this is a list of job values we can then use with a variable in our queries (more on this later). Default is prometheus:

First dashboard - Variable choices matter

The initial dashboard view works with a stat chart Memory usage that has a backing PromQL query using the variables instance and job, both filled by the choices you make in the drop down menus at the top of this dashboard. :

First dashboard - Changing job variable matters

Changing them matters, for example, change job to node and notice that this results in no data being returned. This is because this job does not exist for the instance value of The same if you try selecting job value of alertmanager:

First dashboard - Working variable combinations

For these specific combinations of instance and job values, you will have data returned and a working stat chart (below the third combination is presented):

  • + prometheus
  • + node
  • + alertmanager

First dashboard - Modifying existing dashboard

Now on to the work at hand, first resetting your dashboard as shown below. You're going to edit the stat chart Memory usage, removing the graph being displayed, adjusting the displayed numbers, and resize the stat chart to make room for more panels later:

First dashboard - Opening dashboard for editing

First, open the current dashboard for editing by clicking on the EDIT button on the top right:

First dashboard - Renaming a panel group

Notice all the pencil icons that are now available to edit all parts of the dashboard? Let's rename the first and only panel group from Panel Group to My First Row. Click on the PENCIL ICON found on the far right of the Panel Group to edit:

First dashboard - Panel group pop-up

Modify in the EDIT PANEL GROUP pop-up as shown. Note the Collapse State can be open or closed, which refers to the display desired when the dashboard is initially opened. Click on APPLY button to complete your modifications:
first row

First dashboard - Always saving dashboard changes

It is very important to note here that all changes will be applied and you see the first row has been renamed. Did you also notice that the dashboard is still in EDIT mode with pencil icons available? Nothing has been finalized until you save your changes, so get in the habit of doing that by clicking on the SAVE button on the top right:

First dashboard - After saving dashboard changes

After saving your changes, the pencil icons are gone and you are ready to move on to the next change you want to make. Get in the habit of saving each change you make to a dashboard as you work, you'll be happier for it:

First dashboard - Modifying memory usage panel

Now let's tackle the changes you want in the Memory usage panel by opening the dashboard for editing, then clicking on the PENCIL ICON found on the Memory usage panel to open the graphical EDIT PANEL pop-up as shown:
edit panel

First dashboard - Modifying the panel name

At the top you find Name, Group, Description, and Type fields. Modify the name to Memory usage noting the PREVIEW section updates as you type:

First dashboard - Exploring the panel query

Scroll down and you'll find the QUERY section and two more tabs with SETTINGS and JSON:

Intermezzo - The panel query...

Data is gathered for a panel using the PromQL query shown here, it's used to gather the metrics data needed for this stat chart. You will be provided with more working queries to use when creating dashboards in this workshop, all without explanation. These target the specific data that was scraped from the data sources specified in this project.
								100 - ((go_memstats_sys_bytes{instance='$instance', job='$job'} * 100) /
								(go_memstats_alloc_bytes_total{instance='$instance', job='$job'}))
If you want to learn more about these PromQL queries, please try out the Getting started with Prometheus workshop which has specific labs dedicated to this topic.

First dashboard - Removing sparkline in settings

Click on the SETTINGS tab to open this view showing details on how this stat chart is displayed. Let's remove the graph by turning off the SPARKLINE switch, removing the graph. The preview updates to this view:
big number

First dashboard - Adjusting font in settings

Now the numeric value is way too big! Let's reduce that to take up less space in our dashboard using the FONT SIZE drop down menu and select size 28, resulting in this preview:

First dashboard - Applying panel changes

To save all of our changes in this panel, just click on the APPLY button on the top right and you are dropped back to the dashboard to preview your changes (they are not saved to the dashboard yet!):

First dashboard - Resizing memory usage panel

The memory usage panel is taking up too much space for the percentage number it's displaying. Let's grab the bottom right and drag it up to the left to resize (mouse click and hold the panel corner, then drag). When finished it should look something like this:

First dashboard - Saving dashboard changes

Now you can SAVE this change. This is done by clicking the SAVE button found on the top right. Note the edit buttons are gone:

First dashboard - Viewing informational details

If you hover with your mouse on the memory usage component, you get an informational popup with the message shown. This was the text you saw in the DESCRIPTION field in the EDIT PANEL:

First dashboard - Creating total memory panel

You've explored an existing panel and modified the layout and presentation of the Memory Usage stat chart. Now it's time to create one from scratch, to capture and display Total Memory consumption. Start by opening the dashboard for editing with EDIT button in top right:
new panel

First dashboard - Which new panel button?

You'll notice there are two options presented as buttons to add a new panel. One is part of the top menu and allows you to add a panel to any available group, the other is part of the header menus for group My First Row and will add a panel configured to appear in this group:
edit panel edit panel

First dashboard - Adding new panel details

Click on the add panel menu in the header for the group My First Row and start filling in the Add Panel details as shown:

First dashboard - Adding new panel query

Scroll down and in the first query field add the following PromQL query:
								go_memstats_alloc_bytes_total{instance='$instance', job='$job'}

First dashboard - Previewing new panel query

Notice the preview is a graph of the total memory used in bytes, but we want this to be a number, not a graph, so click on the tab SETTINGS under the graph:

First dashboard - Adjusting new panel settings

Adjust the settings for this stat chart as shown to remove the sparkline, short values, unit, decimals, and right size the font displayed as shown:

First dashboard - Saving the new panel

To apply all the changes to this new panel and add it to the existing dashboard group, click on the ADD button at the top. This results in a weird layout:

First dashboard - Adjusting memory total location

You can resize the panel using bottom right corner (click and drag), but you can also move the entire panel around to any location within the group using the MOVE icon top right (also click and drag). Try a few location as shown:
move1 move2 move3

First dashboard - Finalizing the changes made

To finalize you can resize both panels for uniformity, arrange them as shown, and save the changes using the SAVE button:

Lab completed - Results

Next up, creating a more advanced dashboard...

Contact - are there any questions?

Eric D. Schabell
Director Evangelism
Contact: @ericschabell { or

Up next in workshop...

Lab 6 - Building advanced dashboard