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Current semantic version:

[com.taoensso/timbre "1.5.2"]

Timbre, a (sane) Clojure logging & profiling library

Logging with Java can be maddeningly, unnecessarily hard. Particularly if all you want is something simple that works out-the-box. tools.logging helps, but it doesn't save you from the mess of logger dependencies and configuration hell.

Timbre is an attempt to make simple logging simple and more complex logging reasonable. No XML!

What's In The Box?

  • Small, uncomplicated all-Clojure library.
  • Super-simple map-based config: no arcane XML or properties files!
  • Decent performance (low overhead).
  • Flexible fn-centric appender model with middleware.
  • Sensible built-in appenders including simple email appender.
  • Tunable flood control and asynchronous logging support.
  • Robust namespace filtering.
  • Dead-simple, logging-level-aware logging profiler.

Getting Started


Depend on Timbre in your project.clj:

[com.taoensso/timbre "1.5.2"]

and use the library:

(ns my-app (:use [taoensso.timbre :as timbre :only (trace debug info warn error fatal spy)]))


By default, Timbre gives you basic print output to *out*/*err* at a debug logging level:

(info "This will print")
=> nil
%> 2012-May-28 17:26:11:444 +0700 localhost INFO [my-app] - This will print

(spy :info (* 5 4 3 2 1))
=> 120
%> 2012-May-28 17:26:14:138 +0700 localhost INFO [my-app] - (* 5 4 3 2 1) 120

(trace "This won't print due to insufficient logging level")
=> nil

There's little overhead for checking logging levels:

(time (trace (Thread/sleep 5000)))
%> "Elapsed time: 0.054 msecs"

(time (when true))
%> "Elapsed time: 0.051 msecs"

First-argument exceptions generate a stack trace:

(info (Exception. "Oh noes") "arg1" "arg2")
%> 2012-May-28 17:35:16:132 +0700 localhost INFO [my-app] - arg1 arg2
java.lang.Exception: Oh noes
            NO_SOURCE_FILE:1 my-app/eval6409


Configuring Timbre couldn't be simpler. Let's check out (some of) the defaults:

{:current-level :debug

 :ns-whitelist []
 :ns-blacklist []

 :middleware [] ; As of 1.4.0, see source code

 :timestamp-pattern "yyyy-MMM-dd HH:mm:ss ZZ"
 :timestamp-locale  nil

 {:standard-out        { <...> }
  :spit                { <...> }
  <...> }

 :shared-appender-config {}}

Easily adjust the current logging level:

(timbre/set-level! :warn)

And the default timestamp formatting for log messages:

(timbre/set-config! [:timestamp-pattern] "yyyy-MMM-dd HH:mm:ss ZZ")
(timbre/set-config! [:timestamp-locale] (java.util.Locale/GERMAN))

Filter logging output by namespaces:

(timbre/set-config! [:ns-whitelist] ["some.library.core" "my-app.*"])

Email Appender

To enable the standard Postal-based email appender, add the Postal dependency to your project.clj:

[com.draines/postal "1.9.1"]

And add the appender to your ns declaration:

(:require [taoensso.timbre.appenders (postal :as postal-appender)])

Then adjust your Timbre config:

(timbre/set-config! [:appenders :postal] postal-appender/postal-appender)
(timbre/set-config! [:shared-appender-config :postal]
                    ^{:host "" :user "jsmith" :pass "sekrat!!1"}
                    {:from "" :to ""})

Rate-limit to one email per message per minute:

(timbre/set-config! [:appenders :postal :max-message-per-msecs] 60000)

And make sure emails are sent asynchronously:

(timbre/set-config! [:appenders :postal :async?] true)

Custom Appenders

Writing a custom appender is dead-easy:

 [:appenders :my-appender]
 {:doc       "Hello-world appender"
  :min-level :debug
  :enabled?  true
  :async?    false
  :max-message-per-msecs nil ; No rate limiting
  :fn (fn [{:keys [ap-config level prefix message more] :as args}]
        (when-not (:my-production-mode? ap-config)
          (apply println prefix "Hello world!" message more)))

And because appender fns are just regular Clojure fns, you have unlimited power: write to your database, send a message over the network, check some other state (e.g. environment config) before making a choice, etc.

See the timbre/config docstring for more information on appenders.


The usual recommendation for Clojure profiling is: use a good JVM profiler like YourKit, JProfiler, or VisualVM.

And these certainly do the job. But as with many Java tools, they can be a little hairy and often heavy-handed - especially when applied to Clojure. Timbre includes an alternative.

Let's add it to our app's ns declaration:

(:use [taoensso.timbre.profiling :as profiling :only (p profile)])

Wrap forms that you'd like to profile with the p macro and give them a name:

(defn my-fn
  (let [nums (vec (range 1000))]
    (+ (p :fast-sleep (Thread/sleep 1) 10)
       (p :slow-sleep (Thread/sleep 2) 32)
       (p :add  (reduce + nums))
       (p :sub  (reduce - nums))
       (p :mult (reduce * nums))
       (p :div  (reduce / nums)))))

=> 42

The profile macro can now be used to log times for any wrapped forms:

(profile :info :Arithmetic (dotimes [n 100] (my-fn)))
=> "Done!"
%> 2012-Jul-03 20:46:17 +0700 localhost INFO [my-app] - Profiling my-app/Arithmetic
              Name  Calls       Min        Max       MAD      Mean  Total% Total
 my-app/slow-sleep    100       2ms        2ms      31μs       2ms      57 231ms
 my-app/fast-sleep    100       1ms        1ms      27μs       1ms      29 118ms
        my-app/add    100      44μs        2ms      46μs     100μs       2 10ms
        my-app/sub    100      42μs      564μs      26μs      72μs       2 7ms
        my-app/div    100      54μs      191μs      17μs      71μs       2 7ms
       my-app/mult    100      31μs      165μs      11μs      44μs       1 4ms
       Unaccounted                                                       6 26ms
             Total                                                     100 405ms

It's important to note that Timbre profiling is fully logging-level aware: if the level is insufficient, you won't pay for profiling. Likewise, normal namespace filtering applies. (Performance characteristics for both checks are inherited from Timbre itself).

And since p and profile always return their body's result regardless of whether profiling actually happens or not, it becomes feasible to use profiling more often as part of your normal workflow: just leave profiling code in production as you do for logging code.

A simple sampling profiler is also available: taoensso.timbre.profiling/sampling-profile.

Timbre Supports the ClojureWerkz and CDS Project Goals

ClojureWerkz is a growing collection of open-source, batteries-included Clojure libraries that emphasise modern targets, great documentation, and thorough testing.

CDS (Clojure Documentation Site) is a contributor-friendly community project aimed at producing top-notch Clojure tutorials and documentation.

Contact & Contribution

Reach me (Peter Taoussanis) at for questions/comments/suggestions/whatever. I'm very open to ideas if you have any! I'm also on Twitter: @ptaoussanis.


Copyright © 2012 Peter Taoussanis. Distributed under the Eclipse Public License, the same as Clojure.