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Cashing in on logging and exception data

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Logging and Exception handling is one of the easiest tools to use when debugging; but how can you take those massive logs, thousands of errors and effortlessly use them to build a better product? This presentation share our developers team's lesson-learned to expedite releases and fix app issues faster. It discuss best practices that will help your dev team build a culture of logging such as: what to log, how to log it, and how to proactively put it to use.

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Cashing in on logging and exception data

  1. 1. Cashing In on Logging and Exception Data Jason Taylor CTO, Stackify
  2. 2. “Logging is hard” -No one, ever.
  3. 3. 3 Logging: not hard, but not perfect The Easy • Libraries: log4net, nLog, Elmah, Enterprise Library • Very easy to integrate and use • Great for debug The Not Easy • Production log file access • Volume of data * Number of servers • Rotation and retention • Flat and hard to query • Getting enough context • Proactively consuming / monitoring
  4. 4. 4 Today’s topics Log All The Things Building a “culture of logging” to always have relevant, contextual logs that don’t add overhead. Make the most of your logging framework. Work Smarter, Not Harder Using proper tooling to consolidate & aggregate all of your logging to be available to everyone that needs it, quickly consume it, and proactively put it to use.
  5. 5. 5 What things? • Timestamp • Thread ID • Transaction ID • Server • Environment • User Data • Post Data • Cookies • Querystring • Etc, etc If you’re going to take the time to log something, log enough to give you a play-by-play picture of events. When? • For every important business transaction
  6. 6. Start Simple – handle all exceptions Pros Cons Elmah -Easy -Lots of storage possibilities -Web page to view errors -Limited email & notification possibilities -Unhandled only -Advanced usage requires a lot of configuration. -If MVC, don’t forget to grab Elmah.MVC -Don’t leave your errors web page exposed in producton! Global.asax (Application_Error) -Use the framework of your choice -Captures all exceptions -Fully customizable -You are responsible for returning state back to the method that called (e.g. a controller action) or redirecting Try/Catch blocks -Try/Catch/Finally generally perceived as a good pattern -You will catch 100% of the exceptions that you “catch” -You will miss 100% of the exceptions that you don’t “catch” -Can be “error prone” if you are only catching a certain type that doesn’t happen -Time consuming to “retro fit” into an app Exception Filters (MVC) -Like using global.asax, very customizable -You have to implement everything, including errors that happen globally, how to log, etc
  7. 7. Adding Context Treat logs like “debug when you can’t attach” • Use verbosity levels appropriately – allows you to “turn up” and “turn down” the amount of logging as necessary • Identity key processes and functions that need to be audited and logged • Capture the key steps, measure success / failure • Capture contextual data that helps you solve an issue or answer a question (i.e. logged in user, Http Request data) Don’t forget about logging in your client code • Choose a library that is smart enough to bridge server and client code while keeping context
  8. 8. 8 Adding Context - Basic Bad Slightly Better
  9. 9. 9 Adding Context - Advanced • Logged the input parameters • Logged the object created in my DbContext • Had to use a custom appender for log4net that knows how to serialize the objects Alternatively, would have to serialize to a string: log.Debug(string.Format("Creating a foo: {0}",JsonConvert.SerializeObject(foo)));
  10. 10. Adding Context – Power User!! Wouldn’t it be nice to: • Always capture the user who generated the log or exception? • Always capture basic request details? This would allow us to have deeper, more meaningful data to search through our logs.
  11. 11. Adding Context – Power User!! Context Properties (log4net) <log4net> <root> <level value="ALL" /> <appender-ref ref="StackifyAppender" /> </root> <appender name="StackifyAppender" type="StackifyLib.log4net.StackifyAppender, StackifyLib.log4net"> <logicalThreadContextKeys>User,Request</logicalThreadContextKeys> </appender> </log4net> </configuration>
  12. 12. Adding Context – Power User!! void MvcApplication_AuthenticateRequest(object sender, EventArgs e) { try { log4net.LogicalThreadContext.Properties["User"] = User; } catch (Exception ex) { log.Error(ex); } }
  13. 13. The Results: Rich Logs and Errors
  14. 14. Tips & Tricks • Use your verbosity levels • Make sure your logging framework is asynchronous • Log heavily is core / shared services & other high fan-in areas • Always log the “who” • Use patterns like AOP to write enty / exit logging once, apply everywhere • Make it a part of your development culture (don’t just write the logs – USE them)
  15. 15. Working Smarter At Stackify, we set out to make our logging and error monitoring smarter… …it became a core part of our product offering.
  16. 16. Working Smarter Logs & Errors Tell (Some of) the Story • Logs as “breadcrumb trail” are good for: • Capturing errors in raw form • Capturing key events (depending on logging level) • Piecing together the story (if you logged it) on one server at a time • Error monitoring is good for: • “After the fact” notification • Seeing just the error in question • Pointing you back at log files for more info
  17. 17. Working Smarter The Trouble With Your Current Logs: • Working with all those log files is tedious and time consuming • No cross-server / cross-app correlation • No trends / telemetry • File retention & rotation • Intermixed with Exception details
  18. 18. Working Smarter The Trouble With Your Errors: • Logged errors usually are no more than exception and stack trace • No cross-server/cross-app tracking for errors • Missing/hard to get request details • No trends / telemetry • Need intelligent notifications • In Error Monitoring apps, disconnected from Logs!
  19. 19. 19 Indexing: • Search across apps and servers w/o managing log files • Fully indexed “Context” details • Real-time log tailing • Narrow scope by time range Telemetry • Visualize trends in logging and exceptions • Across all levels of granularity • Contextual telemetry – for any app or server, by default Alerts • Notify when new or “first chance” exceptions occur • Notify on error regression • Notify when error rates are abnormal • Notify on any log query we can think of Engage • Provide access to those who can help solve issues • Give everyone the same picture, with no extra effort Architecture • Single platform solution • Relate exceptions to relevant logs for maximum context • Contribute to picture of “application health”
  20. 20. Live demo Or…. How good is the conference WI-FI?
  21. 21. Search! Quickly filter! Log tailing!
  22. 22. Context! Full error details and telemtry Full application health details
  23. 23. 23 Full search Error Rates Error Details
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  26. 26. Benefits of an integrated logging / error platform • Get real telemetry, know how well your app behaves from release to release • In context to overall performance • Use in QA environments, look for new exceptions and abnormal rates before it is released to prod • Proactively hunt down bugs & improve your codebase • Know about an issue before your customers tell you • Quicker, more efficient debugging via logs

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