A good data visualisation should be fairly self-intuitive, but sometimes you need to add a bit extra to your dashboards to help viewers to contextualise what they are seeing. In this article, we’ll look at some of the ways you can do this in Splunk.

One feature that comes built-in with Splunk is the ability to add HTML panels to your dashboards. These panels can be customised with your own text, so that you can provide descriptions and even link to other sources of information (such as a project resource page in your organisations wiki or Sharepoint).

To add a HTML panel to your dashboard, simply paste the following code into the SimpleXML editor, in the relevant place you would like this panel to appear:

           HTML Panels
      <p>Easily add content to clarify use of a dashboard.</p>


From here, you can use standard HTML tags to add content, including headings, paragraphs, lists and links. You can even include images, such as logos, diagrams or photographs, provided they are saved to the correct location: SPLUNK_HOME/etc/apps/[Your_App_Name]/appserver/static. Insert this code in your HTML panel to display the image: <img src="/static/app/$env:app$/YOUR_IMAGE.jpg"></img>.

A dashboard with two panels. One includes some descriptive text (similar to the previous paragraph) and one contains a picture of a winking cat.
An example of a dashboard with HTML panels

Splunkbase is a great source for apps which add functionality to Splunk, created by Splunk or by the wider Splunk community. One such app, Infobutton, lets you add buttons to dashboard panels to provide additional information on charts. The information either appears as collapsible text within the same panel, or as a pop-up, when the user clicks on a button on the panels.

Two ways of adding descriptive text to a chart, thanks to the Infobutton app.
Left – a collapsible panel. Right – a pop-up.

To use this functionality, install the Infobutton app in your Splunk environment. The sample dashboard included in the app explains how to set it up, but it is basically a case of copying some code into the dashboard you want to use it in, which will call on the javascript file and css assets included with the app.

So there you have it, two ways you can add more information to your dashboards to help users to contextualise data. Features like this help everyone to get more out of Splunk.

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Posted by:Becky Nielsen

Becky is a certified Splunk Admin, who has been working for iDelta since graduating from CodeClan's Professional Software Development course in 2019. Previously an archivist at several institutions around the UK, she holds an MSc in Information Management and Preservation from the University of Glasgow.