Getting a good start with ElasticSearch

I’ve written before on how you can install ElasticSearch on a couple of Ubuntu VM’s in Azure, but while getting the database engine up and running is of course pretty important in order to start working, there are a couple of additional things that really make working with ElasticSearch super-smooth: Marvel and Kibana!

In this post I’ll show you how you can install both.


Marvel is a database monitoring tool that can show you how your ElasticSearch is feeling with a huge amount of meters and gauges – I won’t go into that here, because I haven’t actually looked at that part yet, but the thing I’m excited about is Sense, which is described as a “developer console” where you can go and do RESTful things to your ElasticSearch database.

Let’s install Marvel!

Open up a terminal and go to the root directory of your ElasticSearch installation. Depending on your platform, you’ll have to execute the following command with administrator rights, so it’s either sudo or

Skærmbillede 2014-06-13 kl. 21.11.00

for you – and then you go

which should result in downloading and installing the Marvel plugin. If it succeeds, you should be able to go to the /_plugin/marvel path of your ElasticSearch node to see all the graphs and meters I talked about. Try going to Sense by clicking on the Dashboard button in the top right corner – now you can use a lightweight cURL-like syntax with autocomplete to e.g. put a document to the database like this:


or do a quick search like this:


Neat! The Marvel plugin costs money if you want to use it for productino purposes, but as far as I can tell, it’s absolutely free to use during development, which is also the time when Sense makes the most sense, effectively meaning that you can consider Sense free.

Now, let’s check out Kibana…


Kibana is a simple generic ElasticSearch data analysis and dashboard tool that can help you visualize your data in pretty ways, and since it’s Apace V2-licensed, it’s absolutely free to use for all intents and purposes.

Since Kibana is just a modern SPA, you can go to Kibana’s GitHub and get the code which you can put in a directory or host on a web server somewhere, you’ll just need to edit the line in config.js where the ElasticSearch URL is configured.

Another option is to let ElasticSearch do the hosting, which can be easily achieved by installing Kibana as a plugin like this:

Small caveat: Installing the plugin will copy the entire source code as it looks in the Git repository, which means that the Kibana URL will become the base URL of the plugin /_plugin/kibana followed by the path /src/index.html – the full URL then becomes e.g. something like http://localhost:9200/_plugin/kibana/src/index.html.

Even though Kibana is fairly generic and can be used to visualize your ElasticSearch data in many ways, it seems to give special treatment to time series-based data, where especially logs come to mind – which is probably why it has extra-special treatment for logs imported into ElasticSearch via logstash.

That concludes this small guide on how to install Marvel and Kibana. Stay tuned for more ElasticSearch 🙂