Specification: Embedded metric format - Amazon CloudWatch
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Specification: Embedded metric format

The CloudWatch embedded metric format is a JSON specification used to instruct CloudWatch Logs to automatically extract metric values embedded in structured log events. You can use CloudWatch to graph and create alarms on the extracted metric values.

Embedded metric format specification conventions

The key words “MUST”, “MUST NOT”, “REQUIRED”, “SHALL”, “SHALL NOT”, “SHOULD”, “SHOULD NOT”, “RECOMMENDED”, “MAY”, and “OPTIONAL” in this format specification are to be interpreted as described in Key Words RFC2119.

The terms "JSON", "JSON text", "JSON value", "member", "element", "object", "array", "number", "string", "boolean", "true", "false", and "null" in this format specification are to be interpreted as defined in JavaScript Object Notation RFC8259.


If you plan to create alarms on metrics created using embedded metric format, see Setting alarms on metrics created with the embedded metric format for recommendations.

Embedded metric format document structure

This section describes the structure of an embedded metric format document. Embedded metric format documents are defined in JavaScript Object Notation RFC8259.

Unless otherwise noted, objects defined by this specification MUST NOT contain any additional members. Members not recognized by this specification MUST be ignored. Members defined in this specification are case-sensitive.

The embedded metric format is subject to the same limits as standard CloudWatch Logs events and are limited to a maximum size of 256 KB.

With the embedded metric format, you can track the processing of your EMF logs by metrics that are published in the Amazon/Logs namespace of your account. These can be used to track failed metric generation from EMF, as well as whether failures happen due to parsing or validation. For more details see Monitoring with CloudWatch metrics.

Root node

The LogEvent message MUST be a valid JSON object with no additional data at the beginning or end of the LogEvent message string. For more information about the LogEvent structure, see InputLogEvent.

Embedded metric format documents MUST contain the following top-level member on the root node. This is a Metadata object object.

{ "_aws": { "CloudWatchMetrics": [ ... ] } }

The root node MUST contain all Target members members defined by the references in the MetricDirective object.

The root node MAY contain any other members that are not included in the above requirements. The values of these members MUST be valid JSON types.

Metadata object

The _aws member can be used to represent metadata about the payload that informs downstream services how they should process the LogEvent. The value MUST be an object and MUST contain the following members:

  • CloudWatchMetrics— An array of MetricDirective object used to instruct CloudWatch to extract metrics from the root node of the LogEvent.

    { "_aws": { "CloudWatchMetrics": [ ... ] } }
  • Timestamp— A number representing the time stamp used for metrics extracted from the event. Values MUST be expressed as the number of milliseconds after Jan 1, 1970 00:00:00 UTC.

    { "_aws": { "Timestamp": 1559748430481 } }

MetricDirective object

The MetricDirective object instructs downstream services that the LogEvent contains metrics that will be extracted and published to CloudWatch. MetricDirectives MUST contain the following members:

  • Namespace— A string representing the CloudWatch namespace for the metric.

  • Dimensions— A DimensionSet array.

  • Metrics— An array of MetricDefinition objects. This array MUST NOT contain more than 100 MetricDefinition objects.

DimensionSet array

A DimensionSet is an array of strings containing the dimension keys that will be applied to all metrics in the document. The values within this array MUST also be members on the root-node—referred to as the Target members

A DimensionSet MUST NOT contain more than 30 dimension keys. A DimensionSet MAY be empty.

The target member MUST have a string value. This value MUST NOT contain more than 1024 characters. The target member defines a dimension that will be published as part of the metric identity. Every DimensionSet used creates a new metric in CloudWatch. For more information about dimensions, see Dimension and Dimensions.

{ "_aws": { "CloudWatchMetrics": [ { "Dimensions": [ [ "functionVersion" ] ], ... } ] }, "functionVersion": "$LATEST" }

Be careful when configuring your metric extraction as it impacts your custom metric usage and corresponding bill. If you unintentionally create metrics based on high-cardinality dimensions (such as requestId), the embedded metric format will by design create a custom metric corresponding to each unique dimension combination. For more information, see Dimensions.

MetricDefinition object

A MetricDefinition is an object that MUST contain the following member:

A MetricDefinition object MAY contain the following members:

  • Unit— An OPTIONAL string value representing the unit of measure for the corresponding metric. Values SHOULD be valid CloudWatch metric units. For information about valid units, see MetricDatum. If a value is not provided, then a default value of NONE is assumed.

  • StorageResolution— An OPTIONAL integer value representing the storage resolution for the corresponding metric. Setting this to 1 specifies this metric as a high-resolution metric, so that CloudWatch stores the metric with sub-minute resolution down to one second. Setting this to 60 specifies this metric as standard-resolution, which CloudWatch stores at 1-minute resolution. Values SHOULD be valid CloudWatch supported resolutions, 1 or 60. If a value is not provided, then a default value of 60 is assumed.

    For more information about high-resolution metrics, see High-resolution metrics.


If you plan to create alarms on metrics created using embedded metric format, see Setting alarms on metrics created with the embedded metric format for recommendations.

{ "_aws": { "CloudWatchMetrics": [ { "Metrics": [ { "Name": "Time", "Unit": "Milliseconds", "StorageResolution": 60 } ], ... } ] }, "Time": 1 }

Reference values

Reference values are string values that reference Target members members on the root node. These references should NOT be confused with the JSON Pointers described in RFC6901. Target values cannot be nested.

Target members

Valid targets MUST be members on the root node and cannot be nested objects. For example, a _reference_ value of "A.a" MUST match the following member:

{ "A.a" }

It MUST NOT match the nested member:

{ "A": { "a" } }

Valid values of target members depend on what is referencing them. A metric target MUST be a numeric value or an array of numeric values. Numeric array metric targets MUST NOT have more than 100 members. A dimension target MUST have a string value.

Embedded metric format example and JSON schema

The following is a valid example of embedded metric format.

{ "_aws": { "Timestamp": 1574109732004, "CloudWatchMetrics": [ { "Namespace": "lambda-function-metrics", "Dimensions": [["functionVersion"]], "Metrics": [ { "Name": "time", "Unit": "Milliseconds", "StorageResolution": 60 } ] } ] }, "functionVersion": "$LATEST", "time": 100, "requestId": "989ffbf8-9ace-4817-a57c-e4dd734019ee" }

You can use the following schema to validate embedded metric format documents.

{ "type": "object", "title": "Root Node", "required": [ "_aws" ], "properties": { "_aws": { "$id": "#/properties/_aws", "type": "object", "title": "Metadata", "required": [ "Timestamp", "CloudWatchMetrics" ], "properties": { "Timestamp": { "$id": "#/properties/_aws/properties/Timestamp", "type": "integer", "title": "The Timestamp Schema", "examples": [ 1565375354953 ] }, "CloudWatchMetrics": { "$id": "#/properties/_aws/properties/CloudWatchMetrics", "type": "array", "title": "MetricDirectives", "items": { "$id": "#/properties/_aws/properties/CloudWatchMetrics/items", "type": "object", "title": "MetricDirective", "required": [ "Namespace", "Dimensions", "Metrics" ], "properties": { "Namespace": { "$id": "#/properties/_aws/properties/CloudWatchMetrics/items/properties/Namespace", "type": "string", "title": "CloudWatch Metrics Namespace", "examples": [ "MyApp" ], "pattern": "^(.*)$", "minLength": 1, "maxLength": 1024 }, "Dimensions": { "$id": "#/properties/_aws/properties/CloudWatchMetrics/items/properties/Dimensions", "type": "array", "title": "The Dimensions Schema", "minItems": 1, "items": { "$id": "#/properties/_aws/properties/CloudWatchMetrics/items/properties/Dimensions/items", "type": "array", "title": "DimensionSet", "minItems": 0, "maxItems": 30, "items": { "$id": "#/properties/_aws/properties/CloudWatchMetrics/items/properties/Dimensions/items/items", "type": "string", "title": "DimensionReference", "examples": [ "Operation" ], "pattern": "^(.*)$", "minLength": 1, "maxLength": 250 } } }, "Metrics": { "$id": "#/properties/_aws/properties/CloudWatchMetrics/items/properties/Metrics", "type": "array", "title": "MetricDefinitions", "items": { "$id": "#/properties/_aws/properties/CloudWatchMetrics/items/properties/Metrics/items", "type": "object", "title": "MetricDefinition", "required": [ "Name" ], "properties": { "Name": { "$id": "#/properties/_aws/properties/CloudWatchMetrics/items/properties/Metrics/items/properties/Name", "type": "string", "title": "MetricName", "examples": [ "ProcessingLatency" ], "pattern": "^(.*)$", "minLength": 1, "maxLength": 1024 }, "Unit": { "$id": "#/properties/_aws/properties/CloudWatchMetrics/items/properties/Metrics/items/properties/Unit", "type": "string", "title": "MetricUnit", "examples": [ "Milliseconds" ], "pattern": "^(Seconds|Microseconds|Milliseconds|Bytes|Kilobytes|Megabytes|Gigabytes|Terabytes|Bits|Kilobits|Megabits|Gigabits|Terabits|Percent|Count|Bytes\\/Second|Kilobytes\\/Second|Megabytes\\/Second|Gigabytes\\/Second|Terabytes\\/Second|Bits\\/Second|Kilobits\\/Second|Megabits\\/Second|Gigabits\\/Second|Terabits\\/Second|Count\\/Second|None)$" }, "StorageResolution": { "$id": "#/properties/_aws/properties/CloudWatchMetrics/items/properties/Metrics/items/properties/StorageResolution", "type": "integer", "title": "StorageResolution", "examples": [ 60 ] } } } } } } } } } } }