An attempt to tame Rails' default policy to log everything.
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Lograge - Taming Rails' Default Request Logging

Lograge is an attempt to bring sanity to Rails' noisy and unusable, unparsable and, in the context of running multiple processes and servers, unreadable default logging output. Rails' default approach to log everything is great during development, it's terrible when running it in production. It pretty much renders Rails logs useless to me.

Lograge is a work in progress. I appreciate constructive feedback and criticism. My main goal is to improve Rails' logging and to show people that they don't need to stick with its defaults anymore if they don't want to.

Instead of trying solving the problem of having multiple lines per request by switching Rails' logger for something that outputs syslog lines or adds a request token, Lograge replaces Rails' request logging entirely, reducing the output per request to a single line with all the important information, removing all that clutter Rails likes to include and that gets mingled up so nicely when multiple processes dump their output into a single file.

Instead of having an unparsable amount of logging output like this:

Started GET "/" for at 2012-03-10 14:28:14 +0100
Processing by HomeController#index as HTML
  Rendered text template within layouts/application (0.0ms)
  Rendered layouts/_assets.html.erb (2.0ms)
  Rendered layouts/_top.html.erb (2.6ms)
  Rendered layouts/_about.html.erb (0.3ms)
  Rendered layouts/_google_analytics.html.erb (0.4ms)
Completed 200 OK in 79ms (Views: 78.8ms | ActiveRecord: 0.0ms)

you get a single line with all the important information, like this:

method=GET path=/jobs/833552.json format=json controller=jobs action=show status=200 duration=58.33 view=40.43 db=15.26

The second line is easy to grasp with a single glance and still includes all the relevant information as simple key-value pairs. The syntax is heavily inspired by the log output of the Heroku router. It doesn't include any timestamp by default, instead it assumes you use a proper log formatter instead.


In your Gemfile

gem "lograge"

Enable it for the relevant environments, e.g. production:

# config/environments/production.rb
MyApp::Application.configure do
  config.lograge.enabled = true

You can also add a hook for own custom data

# config/environments/staging.rb
MyApp::Application.configure do
  config.lograge.enabled = true

  # custom_options can be a lambda or hash
  # if it's a lambda then it must return a hash
  config.lograge.custom_options = lambda do |event|
    # capture some specific timing values you are interested in
    {:name => "value", :timing => some_float.round(2)}

Lograge supports multiple output formats. The most common is the default lograge format described above. Alternatively, you can also generate JSON logs in the json_event format used by Logstash.

# config/environments/production.rb
MyApp::Application.configure do
  config.lograge.log_format = :logstash

Note: When using the logstash output, you need to add the additional gem logstash-event. You can simply add it to your Gemfile like this

gem "logstash-event"



Thanks to the notification system that was introduced in Rails 3, replacing the logging is easy. Lograge unhooks all subscriptions from ActionController::LogSubscriber and ActionView::LogSubscriber, and hooks in its own log subscription, but only listening for two events: process_action and redirect_to. It makes sure that only subscriptions from those two classes are removed. If you happened to hook in your own, they'll be safe.

Unfortunately, when a redirect is triggered by your application's code, ActionController fires two events. One for the redirect itself, and another one when the request is finished. Unfortunately the final event doesn't include the redirect, so Lograge stores the redirect URL as a thread-local attribute and refers to it in process_action.

The event itself contains most of the relevant information to build up the log line, including view processing and database access times.

While the LogSubscribers encapsulate most logging pretty nicely, there are still two lines that show up no matter what. The first line that's output for every Rails request, you know, this one:

Started GET "/" for at 2012-03-12 17:10:10 +0100

And the verbose output coming from rack-cache:

cache: [GET /] miss

Both are independent of the LogSubscribers, and both need to be shut up using different means.

For the first one, the starting line of every Rails request log, Lograge replaces code in Rails::Rack::Logger to remove that particular log line. It's not great, but it's just another unnecessary output and would still clutter the log files. Maybe a future version of Rails will make this log line an event as well.

To remove rack-cache's output (which is only enabled if caching in Rails is enabled), Lograge disables verbosity for rack-cache, which is unfortunately enabled by default.

There, a single line per request. Beautiful.

What it doesn't do

Lograge is opinionated, very opinionated. If the stuff below doesn't suit your needs, it may not be for you.

Lograge removes ActionView logging, which also includes rendering times for partials. If you're into those, Lograge is probably not for you. In my honest opinion, those rendering times don't belong in the log file, they should be collected in a system like New Relic, Librato Metrics or some other metrics service that allows graphing rendering percentiles. I assume this for everything that represents a moving target. That kind of data is better off being visualized in graphs than dumped (and ignored) in a log file.

Lograge doesn't yet log the request parameters. This is something I'm actively contemplating, mainly because I want to find a good way to include them, a way that fits in with the general spirit of the log output generated by Lograge.



MIT. Code extracted from Travis CI. (c) 2012 Mathias Meyer