Creating custom XEvent Templates

SQL Server 2012 added the Extended Events UI which made working with Extended Events session much easier. You no longer need to chalk up lengthy T-SQL scripts to spawn off your Extended Events monitoring session. The UI also provides you an option to view the collected data and perform groupings and aggregations for easier analysis.

The templates that you see while configuring an Extended Event session are located at “C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft SQL Server\110\Tools\Templates\sql\xevent“. When you export an Extended Events session, you will be given an option to export the Session as a Template to the following folder: “C:\Users\<user name>\Documents\SQL Server Management Studio\Templates\XEventTemplates“. The template is always exported as an XML file. Now when you create a new Extended Event Session, you will see the template under the user templates section in the templates view as shown in the screen shot below:

You can now choose to create as many templates as you want for your monitoring purposes. However, the template files have to be deposited in the above mentioned location so that Management Studio can show them to you while creating an Extended Events session.

The above blog post is a manifestation of a seemingly simple question asked by Naman Vadhera yesterday while he was exploring the Extended Events UI option.



System Health Session and beyond

I had blogged extensively about System Health Session available in SQL Server 2008 and above. I had also demonstrated how the System Health Session can be used in conjunction with SQL Server Management Studio reports in previous series that I ran on my blog.

System Health Session Dashboard Reports for SQL Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008 R2 – A set of reports available for SQL Server 2008/SQL Server 2008 R2 which provide visualizations for the events tracked by the System Health Session. The reports can be used using the custom reports option in SQL Server Management Studio.

System Health Session Dashboard – Shows the basic information of the information that can be fetched from the System Health Session.

System Health Session Dashboard — sp_server_diagnostics and more – A look into the different issues tracked by the sp_server_diagnostics script and how to build visualizations using that information.

System Health Session Dashboard – sp_server_diagnostics – The basics of what is covered by the sp_server_diagnostics procedure and how to build visualizations on top of the data captured.

System Health Session Dashboard – Error Summary Report
– Shows information on how to write queries to fetch information about various errors tracked by the System Health Session. Shows information tracked by the enhanced System Health Session in SQL Server 2012.

System Health Session Dashboard – Health Summary Report
– Gives you information about the SQL Server instance health like CPU usage, memory etc. A screenshot of the report is shown below:

I have added UTC time formatting so that the time is shown in the same time zone based on the server on which you are viewing the report.

I will keep updating this post once I keep updating with the new reports. As usual, feedback is always welcome.

The report definitions (.rdl) can be downloaded from here.

Awesomesauce SQL Server 2012: System Health Session

There have been a spate of new features and enhancements to existing functionality in SQL Server 2012. The System Health Extended Events session is one of the benefactors. I had previously blogged about the usage of the System Health Session data using custom SSMS Reports in a four part series. Now it is time to talk about the enhancements to the System Health Session’s predecessor.

The SQL Server 2012 health session adds additional events to the default extended event health session running on the instance which is listed below to collect data for the following:

  • Out of memory errors for CLR and the database engine using the events:
    • sqlclr.clr_allocation_failure
    • sqlclr.clr_virtual_alloc_failure
    • sqlos.memory_broker_ring_buffer_recorded
    • sqlos.memory_node_oom_ring_buffer_recorded
  • Scheduler health issues using the events:
    • sqlos.scheduler_monitor_deadlock_ring_buffer_recorded
    • sqlos.scheduler_monitor_non_yielding_iocp_ring_buffer_recorded
    • sqlos.scheduler_monitor_non_yielding_ring_buffer_recorded
    • sqlos.scheduler_monitor_non_yielding_rm_ring_buffer_recorded
    • sqlos.scheduler_monitor_stalled_dispatcher_ring_buffer_recorded
    • sqlos.scheduler_monitor_system_health_ring_buffer_recorded
  • The results of the sp_server_diagnostics component
  • Security and connectivity errors encountered using the events:
    • sqlserver.connectivity_ring_buffer_recorded
    • sqlserver.security_error_ring_buffer_recorded

imageAdditional wait types are also tracked which adds to the existing list of waits captured by this session. Since SQL Server 2012 Management Studio allows you to view the configured Extended Events session on the SQL Server 2012 instance, you can get to the system_health session using the following steps from Object Explorer (see Screenshot 1):

Expand Management –> Extended Events –> system_health.

The Script Session as option now provides you with a way to view the session definition. Another enhancement made to this session is the target for this session is now also a .xel file which by default is located in your SQL Server LOG folder. The target definition for the System Health session are now:

a. Ring Buffer (as was in SQL Server 2008) 
b. XEL file – With a maximum size of 5 MB and a file retention policy of 4 files.

So now you can leverage the management studio XEvent UI to view the results. You can right-click on the ring buffer target in the UI and click on the View Target Data option which will give you an XML document. image

The coolest thing that I like here is the viewer’s capability to show you all the data from all the .xel files. Once you have the events loaded, you should see a view as shown in Screenshot 2. This gives you a list of all the events that were generated. You can sort on the event columns by clicking on them. The progress of the sorting will be visible towards the top right hand corner of SSMS as shown in Screenshot 3. Now that you have the basic view, let’s find out what more can we do with the System Health Session data displayed.


You can click on the Choose Columns option in the toolbar, select the columns that you want to view additionally apart from the name and timestamp by using the Available Columns list. See Screenshot 4 for an example.


Now that you have selected the additional columns, you can also set grouping (using the Grouping button) to view each of the event name categories, the number of events reported and aggregations on the column values (using the Aggregations button). So finally, I landed up with a view as shown below in Screenshot 5. What’s more, you can save the view settings using the Display Settings button!


I am currently writing a series on SSWUG for designing SSRS reports for viewing the events reported by the System Health Session. You can following the series here. If you have SQL Server 2012 RTM installed, then you need to download the T-SQL script attached to Mike Wachal’s blog post to address the wait type information captured.

Monitoring just got a whole lot easier!!