Auto-load objects to Kibana-Elasticsearch stack

Auto-load objects to Kibana-Elasticsearch stack

January 30, 2024
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The well-known EFK/ELK stack, which includes Elasticsearch, Fluentd (or Logstash) & Kibana, is a standard centralized logging platform nowadays.

If you had deployed this stack on your Kubernetes cluster, at some point, you might ask yourself — “Can I export these dashboards out?” or “Can I import ‘built-in’ dashboards & index-pattern (data view) to a brand new Kubernetes cluster?” or “Can I have a one-click EFK stack installation including all the dashboards configured in place?” So yes, you can.

This is exactly the challenge I faced more than a year ago while deploying this kind of stack to a Kubernetes cluster, and I’m still facing it today.

In the following blog post, I’ll show you how to export and import Kibana dashboards and index-pattern (data view) manually using the Kibana API & automatically using ConfigMaps, Kubernetes Jobs & Helm Hooks so that when you deploy your applications and your logging tools, you will also deploy ‘built-in’ Kibana dashboards within your EFK stack.

UPDATE: index-pattern — > data view

Please note that Elastic has renamed the ‘index-pattern’ object to ‘data view’. However, we can still use the ‘index-pattern’ name when we will import it later using the Kibana API.

In this blog post, from now on, I’ll use the name ‘data view’.

Kibana API

You can use Kibana’s API for plenty of purposes, such as importing/exporting data views & dashboards. This is perfect for configuring Kibana in an automated way, like we love to do in DevOps.

Moreover, down below, you’ll find some ‘missing’ variables, such as ${KIBANA_PORT} or ‘user:pwd’ on the CURL commands — make sure you’re replacing them with your relevant data.

Export data view using Kibana API

So, first of all, we need a data view to index our logs. In our use case, we had a data view that’s used for our Kibana. I wanted to export it so I’ll be able to import it later whenever I want.

We can do so using the Kibana API. This is pretty straightforward, just follow the command below (make sure you are replacing ${KIBANA_URL}, ${KIBANA_PORT}, user:pwd, and lastly the ${DATA_VIEW_ID}):

curl - user user:pwd -X POST https://${KIBANA_URL}:${KIBANA_PORT}/api/saved_objects/_export -H 'kbn-xsrf: true' -H 'Content-Type: application/json' -d '{
"objects": [
"type": "index-pattern",
"id": "${DATA_VIEW_ID}"

You can get your data view ID by navigating to the data views web page on Kibana, and you’ll see the ID at the address bar as a part of the URI:

You’re expected to get a NDJSON output, save it as a file, and you’ll use it later.

Exporting Kibana Dashboards using Kibana API

Now, after we exported the data view, we would like to export our dashboards the same way (make sure you are replacing ${KIBANA_URL}, ${KIBANA_PORT}, user:pwd, and lastly the ${DASHBOARD_ID}):

curl - user user:pwd -X GET 
BOARD_ID}" -H 'kbn-xsrf: true'

You can get the ID by navigating to the dashboard web page on the Kibana UI, and you’ll find the ID at the address bar as a part of the URI.

Import data-view using Kibana API

After you exported your data view by the command I mentioned above, you can now import it using the following command:

curl - user user:pwd -X POST 
https://${KIBANA_URL}:${KIBANA_PORT}/api/saved_objects/_import -H "kbn-xsrf: 
true" - form file=@${DATA_VIEW_FILE}.ndjson -H 'kbn-xsrf: true'

The ${DATA_VIEW_FILE} is the file name that you have exported the data view into.

Import dashboards using Kibana API

Of course, you would like to show some data in dashboards, and fortunately, you have a dashboard you’ve exported just before using the steps above. Now you just need to run the command:

curl - user user:pwd -X POST 
pattern -H 'kbn-xsrf: true' -H 'Content-Type: application/json' -d 

*Optionally — you can run a curl command with -d ‘ <JSON_DATA>’ instead of file path.

Import as a part of your Helm chart

So the exciting part is here: sometimes we want to import data views and dashboards as a part of the Helm chart itself or maybe as a post-process that happens after the Helm chart installation.

It can be done by Kubernetes Jobs. We will also use Kubernetes ConfigMaps in order to bring our objects’ JSON data inside the container.

Dashboards & data views as ConfigMap

First, we’ll create a ConfigMap which includes:

1. Shell script that curls the Kibana API (to import the data views & the dashboards)

2. A JSON file of a dashboard

3. A NDJSON file of a data view

apiVersion: v1
kind: ConfigMap
name: kibana-data
data: |

#Wait for Kibana to be available & healthy
function wait_for_kibana {
echo "Testing connection to Kibana"
until $(curl -k -X GET https://${KIBANA_URL}:${KIBANA_PORT}/_cluster/health); do sleep 5; done
until [ "$(curl -k -X GET https://${KIBANA_URL}:${KIBANA_PORT}/_cluster/health | wc -l)" == "0" ]
do sleep 5

#Import data view
function import_data_view {
echo "Importing data_view..."
OUTPUT=$(curl -k --user user:pwd -X POST https://${KIBANA_URL}:${KIBANA_PORT}/api/saved_objects/_import -H "kbn-xsrf: true" --form file=@/kibana/file.ndjson)
SUCCESS=$(echo ${OUTPUT} | grep -o '"successCount":1' | wc -l)
if [[ ${SUCCESS} == "1" ]]; then
printf "\n########## Imported data view successfully! #############################\n"
printf "\n########## Failure while importing data view #############\n"
echo ${OUTPUT}

#Import dashboards
function import_dashboards {
echo "Importing dashboards..."
OUTPUT=$(curl --user user:pwd -X POST https://${KIBANA_URL}:${KIBANA_PORT}/api/kibana/dashboards/import?exclude=index-pattern -H 'kbn-xsrf: true' -H 'Content-Type: application/json' -d @/kibana/file.json)
SUCCESS=$(echo ${OUTPUT} | grep -o '"successCount":1' | wc -l)
if [[ ${SUCCESS} == "1" ]]; then
printf "\n########## Imported dashboards successfully! #############################\n"
printf "\n########## Failure while importing dashboards #############\n"
echo ${OUTPUT}


file.ndjson: |

file.json: |

The next step is to mount this ConfigMap as 3 different files inside the Job’s container, follow me.

Kubernetes Job as your handler!

We’ll now use a Kubernetes Job in order to:

1. Mount this ConfigMap to a container

2. Run the Shell script in order to send the API requests to the Kibana

Please note:

Obviously, you need a ready Kubernetes cluster.

You can add the ConfigMap and the Kubernetes Job to your EFK stack helm chart, or you can just run it statically at your cluster — this is really your choice following your needs.

apiVersion: batch/v1
kind: Job
name: kibana-import
"": post-install
"": "5"
"": before-hook-creation,hook-succeeded
backoffLimit: 0
restartPolicy: Never
- name: kibana-data
name: kibana-data
defaultMode: 0777
- name: kibana-import
image: centos/centos7
imagePullPolicy: IfNotPresent
- name: KIBANA_URL
value: "{{ .Values.kibana.serviceName }}"
value: "{{ .Values.kibana.port }}"
command: ["/bin/sh","/kibana/"]
- name: kibana-data
mountPath: /kibana/

This job will run a single pod which will go down right after it finishes its task: Importing Kibana data view & dashboards.

NOTE: You can add the following helm-hook in the Job if you would want to continuously update dashboard, and not only after the first installation of the chart: "": post-upgrade

Summing up

To sum up, it would be much better to have the option to import data views and dashboards using Kubernetes ConfigMaps, but as we can’t do so today, I find the solution I described here very useful in order to add an import functionality to your Helm chart, and allow your developers to control their built-in dashboards & data views from the ConfigMap.

On one hand, you give them control but on the other hand, you do the import process for them, using Job.
You can also decide how you want to run this Kubernetes Job. In my case, I decided to add this Job to my ECK helm chart, and then when I deployed the EFK stack I already had some built-in dashboards & data view, but you can obviously decide how you want to use it.

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