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Add support for variables

Variables are placeholders for values, and you can use them to create templated queries, and dashboard or panel links. For more information on variables, refer to Templates and variables.

In this guide, you'll see how you can turn a query string like this:

SELECT * FROM services WHERE id = "$service"


SELECT * FROM services WHERE id = "auth-api"

Grafana provides helper functions to interpolate variables in a string template. Let's see how you can use them in your plugin.

Interpolate variables in data source plugins

For data sources, you need to use the getTemplateSrv, which returns an instance of TemplateSrv.

  1. Import getTemplateSrv from the runtime package:

    import { getTemplateSrv } from '@grafana/runtime';
  2. In your query method, call the replace method with a user-defined template string:

    async query(options: DataQueryRequest<MyQuery>): Promise<DataQueryResponse> {
    const query = getTemplateSrv().replace('SELECT * FROM services WHERE id = "$service"', options.scopedVars);

    const data = makeDbQuery(query);

    return { data };

Format multi-value variables

When a user selects multiple values for a variable, the value of the interpolated variable depends on the variable format.

A data source plugin can define the default format option when no format is specified by adding a third argument to the interpolation function.

Let's change the SQL query to use CSV format by default:

getTemplateSrv().replace('SELECT * FROM services WHERE id IN ($service)', options.scopedVars, 'csv');

Now, when users write $service, the query looks like this:

SELECT * FROM services WHERE id IN (admin,auth,billing)

For more information on the available variable formats, refer to Advanced variable format options.

Set a variable from your plugin

Not only can you read the value of a variable, you can also update the variable from your plugin. Use locationService.partial(query, replace).

The following example shows how to update a variable called service.

  • query contains the query parameters you want to update. The query parameters that control variables are prefixed with var-.
  • replace: true tells Grafana to update the current URL state rather than creating a new history entry.
import { locationService } from '@grafana/runtime';
locationService.partial({ 'var-service': 'billing' }, true);

Grafana queries your data source whenever you update a variable. Excessive updates to variables can slow down Grafana and lead to a poor user experience.

Add support for query variables to your data source

A query variable is a type of variable that allows you to query a data source for the values. By adding support for query variables to your data source plugin, users can create dynamic dashboards based on data from your data source.

Let's start by defining a query model for the variable query:

export interface MyVariableQuery {
namespace: string;
rawQuery: string;

For a data source to support query variables, override the metricFindQuery in your DataSourceApi class. The metricFindQuery function returns an array of MetricFindValue which has a single property, text:

async metricFindQuery(query: MyVariableQuery, options?: any) {
// Retrieve DataQueryResponse based on query.
const response = await this.fetchMetricNames(query.namespace, query.rawQuery);

// Convert query results to a MetricFindValue[]
const values = => ({ text: }));

return values;

By default, Grafana provides a basic query model and editor for simple text queries. If that's all you need, then leave the query type as string:

async metricFindQuery(query: string, options?: any)

Let's create a custom query editor to allow the user to edit the query model.

  1. Create a VariableQueryEditor component:

    import React, { useState } from 'react';
    import { MyVariableQuery } from './types';

    interface VariableQueryProps {
    query: MyVariableQuery;
    onChange: (query: MyVariableQuery, definition: string) => void;

    export const VariableQueryEditor = ({ onChange, query }: VariableQueryProps) => {
    const [state, setState] = useState(query);

    const saveQuery = () => {
    onChange(state, `${state.query} (${state.namespace})`);

    const handleChange = (event: React.FormEvent<HTMLInputElement>) =>
    []: event.currentTarget.value,

    return (
    <div className="gf-form">
    <span className="gf-form-label width-10">Namespace</span>
    <div className="gf-form">
    <span className="gf-form-label width-10">Query</span>

    Grafana saves the query model whenever one of the text fields loses focus (onBlur) and then previews the values returned by metricFindQuery.

    The second argument to onChange allows you to set a text representation of the query that will appear next to the name of the variable in the variables list.

  2. Configure your plugin to use the query editor:

    import { VariableQueryEditor } from './VariableQueryEditor';

    export const plugin = new DataSourcePlugin<DataSource, MyQuery, MyDataSourceOptions>(DataSource)

That's it! You can now try out the plugin by adding a query variable to your dashboard.