What should be the scope of a health check for a system which deploys a webapp?

I believe this question is now on topic.

The comments make the following objections:

I'm thinking it's the job of the person who asked you to "write a health check" to define what they mean by "health". Otherwise, it's just guesswork. – Jörg W Mittag 4 hours ago

I agree with @JörgWMittag comment, but I'd even take it a step further. You should get your requirements not only from the person who told you that you need to design a "health check", but also figure out who the people or systems are who use the data that is part of a health check and figure out what they need or how they need it. These are your requirements that will drive your design. – Thomas Owens♦ 2 hours ago

I believe that those perspectives are in fact valuable answers to this question.

Many programmers will have to add healthchecks to applications at some point. Understanding that there are multiple factors to consider, such as the above comments, is in my opinion the answer to this question.

For this reason I believe this question is a valuable and answerable question for both the asker as well as the broader programmer community.

3 Answers 3


Leave Closed

I don't think the question should be reopened even after its edit. The answers along the line “get more requirements” might be correct, but they are in no way specific to app health monitoring systems. Maybe we should create a canonical dupe target for “I have to design a program with unclear requirements, what should I do?” where we can explain how to arrive at requirements, but that sounds pretty broad.

Incidentally, the current answers listing ideas for health metrics that could be checked are a classic example of a “list of things” question that should be closed as too broad.

It is irrelevant within certain limits whether a question is valuable or interesting. It matters whether a question is on-topic, objective, and reasonably scoped. I don't quite see the scope as sufficiently tight in this case. Sorry.

  • 1
    Hrmm, you bring up some good points. I might try a more comprehensive rewrite this evening as I do think this is a valuable question, maybe focusing on microservices and the level of information that should be communicated in general in that situation... though I guess I'm not sure.
    – enderland
    Commented Mar 14, 2016 at 19:46

I still don't think the question should be reopened. I think the edit changes the close reason from "primarily opinion based" to "too broad".

The question, in it's new form, can be answered. The answer is "go get better requirements". However, there are entire books on software requirements engineering. Just telling someone that they need to go get better requirements in order to solve their problem doesn't actually solve their problem. It should be extremely obvious to "professionals and students in software development and related fields" that, when you are given such a vague task, you should get more information from the appropriate stakeholders.

If the asker has specific questions about eliciting requirements, they should go check out some existing resources - read a book (I linked to 7 above), search the Internet, read existing questions about requirements engineering here, or do some other basic research. I'm sure that if they are having problems with eliciting or managing requirements, we could help with those specific problems. But that is an entirely different question.

Note that I wouldn't want to delete this question. It should just remain closed, as is. The answers that exist are generally useful for other people who are searching for information about writing a health status monitor for software. Leaving it open, though, indicates that this is the kind of question that we want. I don't think that it is.

  • I... think you are reading way too much into this. The question could just as easily be answered by, "go ask if your team has a protocol/standard/doc for this." In fact, that's a considerably better answer than "go off and generate your own requirements from scratch" (which is the answer your objection here seems to be reacting to ?). When I had a similar question at a new job, I asked our infrastructure team "hey what is the spec for healthchecks?" and they linked me to some documentation. However, I first had to think to do that - it seems the asker of this question hasn't done that yet.
    – enderland
    Commented Mar 14, 2016 at 19:39
  • 2
    @enderland Both "go ask your team" or "go elicit requirements" are non-answers. Any reasonable professional or student software developer should start with these things. People who fall into the target audience for the site should understand this, without needing to ask about it.
    – Thomas Owens Mod
    Commented Mar 14, 2016 at 19:43

Based on the feedback here that the question was too broad, I narrowed the scope to the OP's original case only, and voted to reopen.

So definition of question changed from

"How should one determine what a health check should actually do when writing one?" with a single specific example


"What should be the scope of a health check for a system which deploys a webapp?" with additional specific questions about items to include or not include in this type of health check.

  • I think that's a better edit than the ones I made. Eventually it'll work? :)
    – enderland
    Commented Mar 15, 2016 at 14:30
  • your edit seems to invalidate all three current answers, what would you advise now? (meanwhile I had to vote down all three of them, right after voting reopen)
    – gnat
    Commented Mar 15, 2016 at 15:02
  • @gnat I'm not sure I understand, I thought all 3 answers were acceptable and addressed the question the OP asked. Sure they might be better if revisited by authors again and modified to address the specific situation instead of being quite so generic, but I thought they were still perfectly valid and useful for the question asked.
    – Rachel
    Commented Mar 15, 2016 at 15:22
  • per my reading none of the answers addresses "system which deploys a webapp", they all do only generic handwaving about healthchecks
    – gnat
    Commented Mar 15, 2016 at 15:26
  • 1
    @gnat for what it's worth I just edited my answer there to address those points directly
    – enderland
    Commented Mar 15, 2016 at 16:24
  • @enderland updated answer looks good to me, thanks
    – gnat
    Commented Mar 15, 2016 at 16:31

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