Provided by: libpcp3-dev_4.3.1-1_amd64 bug

NAME

       PMAPI - introduction to the Performance Metrics Application Programming Interface

C SYNOPSIS

       #include <pcp/pmapi.h>

        ... assorted routines ...

       cc ... -lpcp

DESCRIPTION

       Within  the framework of the Performance Co-Pilot (PCP), client applications are developed
       using the Performance Metrics Application Programming Interface  (PMAPI)  that  defines  a
       procedural  interface  with  services  suited  to  the  development of applications with a
       particular interest in performance metrics.

       This description presents an overview  of  the  PMAPI  and  the  context  in  which  PMAPI
       applications  are  run.   The  PMAPI  is  more fully described in the Performance Co-Pilot
       Programmer's Guide, and the manual pages for the individual PMAPI routines.

PERFORMANCE METRICS - NAMES AND IDENTIFIERS

       For a description of the Performance Metrics Name Space (PMNS) and  associated  terms  and
       concepts, see PCPIntro(1).

       Not  all  PMIDs  need  be  represented  in the PMNS of every application.  For example, an
       application which monitors disk traffic will likely use a name space which references only
       the PMIDs for I/O statistics.

       Applications which use the PMAPI may have independent versions of a PMNS, constructed from
       an  initialization  file  when  the  application  starts;   see   pmLoadASCIINameSpace(3),
       pmLoadNameSpace(3), and pmns(5).

       Internally  (below  the  PMAPI)  the  implementation of the Performance Metrics Collection
       System (PMCS) uses only the PMIDs,  and  a  PMNS  provides  an  external  mapping  from  a
       hierarchic  taxonomy  of  names to PMIDs that is convenient in the context of a particular
       system or particular use of the PMAPI.  For  the  applications  programmer,  the  routines
       pmLookupName(3)  and  pmNameID(3)  translate  between  names in a PMNS and PMIDs, and vice
       versa.   The  PMNS  may  be  traversed  using  pmGetChildren(3)  andpmTraversePMNS.    The
       pmFetchGroup(3) functions combine metric name lookup, fetch, and conversion operations.

PMAPI CONTEXT

       An application using the PMAPI may manipulate several concurrent contexts, each associated
       with a source of performance metrics, e.g. pmcd(1) on some host, or a set of archive  logs
       of performance metrics as created by pmlogger(1).

       Contexts  are  identified by a ``handle'', a small integer value that is returned when the
       context is created; see pmNewContext(3) and pmDupContext(3).  Some PMAPI functions require
       an  explicit  ``handle''  to  identify  the  correct  context, but more commonly the PMAPI
       function is executed in the ``current'' context.  The current context  may  be  discovered
       using pmWhichContext(3) and changed using pmUseContext(3).

       If  a  PMAPI  context has not been explicitly established (or the previous current context
       has been closed using pmDestroyContext(3)) then the current PMAPI context is undefined.

       In addition to the source of the  performance  metrics,  the  context  also  includes  the
       instance  profile  and  collection  time  (both  described  below) which controls how much
       information is returned, and when the information was collected.

INSTANCE DOMAINS

       When performance metric values are returned across the PMAPI to a requesting  application,
       there  may be more than one value for a particular metric.  Multiple values, or instances,
       for a single metric are typically the result of instrumentation being implemented for each
       instance  of a set of similar components or services in a system, e.g.  independent counts
       for each CPU, or each process, or  each  disk,  or  each  system  call  type,  etc.   This
       multiplicity  of  values  is not enumerated in the name space but rather, when performance
       metrics  are  delivered  across  the  PMAPI  by  pmFetch(3),  the  format  of  the  result
       accommodates  values  for  one or more instances, with an instance-value pair encoding the
       metric value for a particular instance.

       The instances are identified by an internal identifier assigned by the  agent  responsible
       for  instantiating  the  values  for  the  associated  performance  metric.  Each instance
       identifier has a corresponding external instance identifier name (an ASCII  string).   The
       routines  pmGetInDom(3),  pmLookupInDom(3) and pmNameInDom(3) may be used to enumerate all
       instance identifiers, and to translate between internal and external instance identifiers.

       All of the instance identifiers for a particular performance metric are collectively known
       as an instance domain.  Multiple performance metrics may share the same instance domain.

       If  only  one instance is ever available for a particular performance metric, the instance
       identifier in the result from pmFetch(3) assumes the special value PM_IN_NULL and  may  be
       ignored  by  the  application,  and only one instance-value pair appears in the result for
       that metric.  Under these circumstances, the associated instance domain (as  returned  via
       pmLookupDesc(3))  is  set  to  PM_INDOM_NULL  to  indicate that values for this metric are
       singular.

       The difficult issue of transient performance  metrics  (e.g.  per-filesystem  information,
       hot-plug  replaceable  hardware  modules,  etc.) means that repeated requests for the same
       PMID may return different numbers  of  values,  and/or  some  changes  in  the  particular
       instance  identifiers  returned.   This  means  applications  need to be aware that metric
       instantiation is guaranteed to be valid at the time of  collection  only.   Similar  rules
       apply  to the transient semantics of the associated metric values.  In general however, it
       is expected that the bulk of the performance metrics  will  have  instantiation  semantics
       that are fixed over the execution life-time of any PMAPI client.

THE TYPE OF METRIC VALUES

       The PMAPI supports a wide range of format and type encodings for the values of performance
       metrics, namely signed and unsigned integers, floating point numbers,  32-bit  and  64-bit
       encodings  of  all  of  the  above,  ASCII  strings  (C-style,  NULL byte terminated), and
       arbitrary aggregates of binary data.

       The type field in the pmDesc structure returned by pmLookupDesc(3) identifies  the  format
       and  type  of  the  values  for  a particular performance metric within a particular PMAPI
       context.

       Note that the encoding of values for a particular performance metric may be different  for
       different  PMAPI  contexts,  due  to  differences  in  the  underlying  implementation for
       different contexts.  However it is expected that the vast majority of performance  metrics
       will  have consistent value encoding across all versions of all implementations, and hence
       across all PMAPI contexts.

       The PMAPI supports routines to automate the handling of  the  various  value  formats  and
       types, particularly for the common case where conversion to a canonical format is desired,
       see pmExtractValue(3) and pmPrintValue(3).

THE DIMENSIONALITY AND SCALE OF METRIC VALUES

       Independent of how the value is encoded, the value for a performance metric is assumed  to
       be  drawn  from a set of values that can be described in terms of their dimensionality and
       scale by a compact encoding as follows.  The dimensionality is  defined  by  a  power,  or
       index,  in each of 3 orthogonal dimensions, namely Space, Time and Count (or Events, which
       are dimensionless).  For example I/O throughput might be represented as Space/Time,  while
       the running total of system calls is Count, memory allocation is Space and average service
       time is Time/Count.  In each dimension there are a number of common scale values that  may
       be  used  to  better  encode ranges that might otherwise exhaust the precision of a 32-bit
       value.  This information is encoded in the pmUnits structure  which  is  embedded  in  the
       pmDesc structure returned from pmLookupDesc(3).

       The  routine  pmConvScale(3) is provided to convert values in conjunction with the pmUnits
       structures that defines the dimensionality and  scale  of  the  values  for  a  particular
       performance  metric  as returned from pmFetch(3), and the desired dimensionality and scale
       of the value the PMAPI client wishes to manipulate.   Alternatively,  the  pmFetchGroup(3)
       functions  can  perform  data  format and unit conversion operations, specified by textual
       descriptions of desired unit / scales.

INSTANCE PROFILE

       The set of instances for performance metrics  returned  from  a  pmFetch(3)  call  may  be
       filtered  or restricted using an instance profile.  There is one instance profile for each
       PMAPI context the application creates, and each instance  profile  may  include  instances
       from one or more instance domains.

       The  routines  pmAddProfile(3)  and  pmDelProfile(3) may be used to dynamically adjust the
       instance profile.

COLLECTION TIME

       For each set of values for  performance  metrics  returned  via  pmFetch(3)  there  is  an
       associated  ``timestamp''  that serves to identify when the performance metric values were
       collected; for metrics being delivered from a real-time source (i.e. pmcd(1) on some host)
       this  would  typically  be  not  long  before they were exported across the PMAPI, and for
       metrics being delivered from a set of archive logs,  this  would  be  the  time  when  the
       metrics were written into the archive log.

       There  is  an  issue  here  of  exactly  when  individual metrics may have been collected,
       especially given their origin in potentially different  Performance  Metric  Domains,  and
       variability in the metric updating frequency at the lowest level of the Performance Metric
       Domain.  The PMCS opts for the pragmatic  approach,  in  which  the  PMAPI  implementation
       undertakes  to  return all of the metrics with values accurate as of the timestamp, to the
       best of our ability.  The belief is that the inaccuracy this introduces is small, and  the
       additional  burden  of  accurate individual timestamping for each returned metric value is
       neither warranted nor practical (from an implementation viewpoint).

       Of course, in the case of collection of metrics from multiple hosts the PMAPI client  must
       assume  the  sanity  of  the  timestamps  is  constrained  by  the  extent  to which clock
       synchronization protocols are implemented across the network.

       A PMAPI application may call pmSetMode(3) to vary the requested collection time,  e.g.  to
       rescan  performance  metrics values from the recent past, or to ``fast-forward'' through a
       set of archive logs.

GENERAL ISSUES OF PMAPI PROGRAMMING STYLE

       Across the PMAPI, all arguments and results involving a ``list of something'' are declared
       to  be  arrays  with  an  associated  argument or function value to identify the number of
       elements in the list.  This has been done  to  avoid  both  the  varargs(3)  approach  and
       sentinel-terminated lists.

       Where  the  size  of  a  result  is  known  at  the  time  of  a  call, it is the caller's
       responsibility to allocate (and possibly free) the storage, and the called  function  will
       assume  the result argument is of an appropriate size.  Where a result is of variable size
       and that size cannot be  known  in  advance  (e.g.  for  pmGetChildren(3),  pmGetInDom(3),
       pmNameInDom(3),  pmNameID(3), pmLookupLabels(3), pmLookupText(3) and pmFetch(3)) the PMAPI
       implementation uses a range of dynamic allocation schemes in the called routine, with  the
       caller  responsible  for  subsequently  releasing the storage when no longer required.  In
       some cases this simply involves calls to free(3), but in  others  (most  notably  for  the
       result  from  pmFetch(3)),  special routines (e.g. pmFreeResult(3) and pmFreeLabelSets(3))
       should be used to release the storage.

       As a general rule, if the called routine returns an error status then no  allocation  will
       have been done, and any pointer to a variable sized result is undefined.

DIAGNOSTICS

       Where  error  conditions  may  arise,  the  functions that comprise the PMAPI conform to a
       single, simple error notification scheme, as follows;

       +  the function returns an integer

       +  values >= 0 indicate no error, and perhaps some positive status,  e.g.  the  number  of
          things really processed

       +  values  <  0  indicate  an  error,  with  a  global table of error conditions and error
          messages

       The PMAPI routine  pmErrStr(3)  translates  error  conditions  into  error  messages.   By
       convention, the small negative values are assumed to be negated versions of the Unix error
       codes as defined in <errno.h> and the  strings  returned  are  as  per  strerror(3).   The
       larger, negative error codes are PMAPI error conditions.

       One  error,  common  to  all  PMAPI  routines  that  interact with pmcd(1) on some host is
       PM_ERR_IPC, which indicates the communication link to pmcd(1) has been lost.

MULTI-THREADED APPLICATIONS

       The original design for  PCP  was  based  around  single-threaded  applications,  or  more
       strictly  applications  in  which  only  one  thread  was  ever  expected  to call the PCP
       libraries.  This restriction has been relaxed for libpcp to allow the  most  common  PMAPI
       routines to be safely called from any thread in a multi-threaded application.

       However  the  following groups of functions and services in libpcp are still restricted to
       being called from a single-thread, and this is enforced by returning PM_ERR_THREAD when an
       attempt to call the routines in each group from more than one thread is detected.

       1.  Any  use of a PM_CONTEXT_LOCAL context, as the DSO PMDAs that are called directly from
           libpcp may not be thread-safe.

PCP ENVIRONMENT

       Most environment  variables  are  described  in  PCPIntro(1).   In  addition,  environment
       variables  with the prefix PCP_ are used to parameterize the file and directory names used
       by PCP.  On each installation, the file /etc/pcp.conf contains the local values for  these
       variables.   The  $PCP_CONF  variable  may be used to specify an alternative configuration
       file,  as  described  in  pcp.conf(5).   Values  for  these  variables  may  be   obtained
       programmatically using the pmGetConfig(3) function.

SEE ALSO

       PCPIntro(1), PCPIntro(3), pmda(3), pmGetConfig(3), pcp.conf(5) and pcp.env(5).