Investigate and share usage data with interactive workbooks in Application Insights

Workbooks combine Azure Application Insights data visualizations, Analytics queries, and text into interactive documents. Workbooks are editable by other team members with access to the same Azure resource. This means the queries and controls used to create a workbook are available to other people reading the workbook, making them easy to explore, extend, and check for mistakes.

Workbooks are helpful for scenarios like:

  • Exploring the usage of your app when you don't know the metrics of interest in advance: numbers of users, retention rates, conversion rates, etc. Unlike other usage analytics tools in Application Insights, workbooks let you combine multiple kinds of visualizations and analyses, making them great for this kind of free-form exploration.
  • Explaining to your team how a newly released feature is performing, by showing user counts for key interactions and other metrics.
  • Sharing the results of an A/B experiment in your app with other members of your team. You can explain the goals for the experiment with text, then show each usage metric and Analytics query used to evaluate the experiment, along with clear call-outs for whether each metric was above- or below-target.
  • Reporting the impact of an outage on the usage of your app, combining data, text explanation, and a discussion of next steps to prevent outages in the future.

Your Application Insights resource must contain page views or custom events to use workbooks. Learn how to set up your app to collect page views automatically with the Application Insights JavaScript SDK.

Editing, rearranging, cloning, and deleting workbook sections

A workbook is a made of sections: independently editable usage visualizations, charts, tables, text, or Analytics query results.

To edit the contents of a workbook section, click the Edit button below and to the right of the workbook section.

Application Insights Workbooks section editing controls

  1. When you're done editing a section, click Done Editing in the bottom left corner of the section.

  2. To create a duplicate of a section, click the Clone this section icon. Creating duplicate sections is a great to way to iterate on a query without losing previous iterations.

  3. To move up a section in a workbook, click the Move up or Move down icon.

  4. To remove a section permanently, click the Remove icon.

Adding usage data visualization sections

Workbooks offer four types of built-in usage analytics visualizations. Each answers a common question about the usage of your app. To add tables and charts other than these four sections, add Analytics query sections (see below).

To add a Users, Sessions, Events, or Retention section to your workbook, use the Add Users or other corresponding button at the bottom of the workbook, or at the bottom of any section.

Users section in Workbooks

Users sections answer "How many users viewed some page or used some feature of my site?"

Sessions sections answer "How many sessions did users spend viewing some page or using some feature of my site?"

Events sections answer "How many times did users view some page or use some feature of my site?"

Each of these three section types offers the same sets of controls and visualizations:

Retention section in Workbooks

Retention sections answer "Of people who viewed some page or used some feature on one day or week, how many came back in a subsequent day or week?"

Adding Application Insights Analytics sections

Analytics section in Workbooks

To add an Application Insights Analytics query section to your workbook, use the Add Analytics query button at the bottom of the workbook, or at the bottom of any section.

Analytics query sections let you add arbitrary queries over your Application Insights data into workbooks. This flexibility means Analytics query sections should be your go-to for answering any questions about your site other than the four listed above for Users, Sessions, Events, and Retention, like:

  • How many exceptions did your site throw during the same time period as a decline in usage?
  • What was the distribution of page load times for users viewing some page?
  • How many users viewed some set of pages on your site, but not some other set of pages? This can be useful to understand if you have clusters of users who use different subsets of your site's functionality (use the join operator with the kind=leftanti modifier in the Log Analytics query language).

Use the Log Analytics query language reference to learn more about writing queries.

Adding text and Markdown sections

Adding headings, explanations, and commentary to your workbooks helps turn a set of tables and charts into a narrative. Text sections in workbooks support the Markdown syntax for text formatting, like headings, bold, italics, and bulleted lists.

To add a text section to your workbook, use the Add text button at the bottom of the workbook, or at the bottom of any section.

Saving and sharing workbooks with your team

Workbooks are saved within an Application Insights resource, either in the My Reports section that's private to you or in the Shared Reports section that's accessible to everyone with access to the Application Insights resource. To view all the workbooks in the resource, click the Open button in the action bar.

To share a workbook that's currently in My Reports:

  1. Click Open in the action bar
  2. Click the "..." button beside the workbook you want to share
  3. Click Move to Shared Reports.

To share a workbook with a link or via email, click Share in the action bar. Keep in mind that recipients of the link need access to this resource in the Azure portal to view the workbook. To make edits, recipients need at least Contributor permissions for the resource.

To pin a link to a workbook to an Azure Dashboard:

  1. Click Open in the action bar
  2. Click the "..." button beside the workbook you want to pin
  3. Click Pin to dashboard.

Next steps

Next steps