Log4J 2 Configuration: Using Properties File

Log4J 2 Configuration: Using Properties File

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Log4J 2 is a logging framework designed to address the logging requirements of enterprise applications. Its predecessor Log4J 1.x has been around for more than one and a half decade and is still one of the most widely used Java logging framework. Log4J has even been ported to the .NET world. Log4net is one of the most popular logging frameworks for Microsoft’s .NET environment.

Log4J 2 goes steps ahead by removing the inherent architectural flaws of Log4J 1.x.  Since the initial release of Log4J 2 on August 2015, it’s quickly being adopted by the developer community. I wrote an introductory post on Log4J 2 here. If you have not read it, I recommend starting with the introductory post first. In this post, I will discuss how to configure Log4J 2 using a properties configuration file. This is just one of several ways you can configure Log4J 2.

What are Log4J 2 Configuration Files?

Log4J 2 provides various components, such as loggers, appenders, and layouts that work together to perform logging in an application. As different applications have different logging requirements, you’re able configure LogJ 2 accordingly. Also, you will often need to keep changing Log4J 2 configurations of an application across its deployment lifecycle. For example, it is common to set the logging level to DEBUG during development, and later switch it to ERROR to avoid filling your logs with excessive debug information. Similarly, during local development, you can work with the console appender to avoid file I/O overheads and in other deployment environments, set a file appender or some other persistent destination to preserve log messages.

You can configure Log4J 2 either programmatically in your application or through configuration files, such as properties, XML, JSON, and YAML residing on your project classpath. Through the use of configuration files, you have the flexibility of changing the various configuration options without modifying your application code. In this post we’re going to look at using properties file.

Setting up Log4J 2 to Use Properties File

Unlike its predecessor Log4J 1.x, Log4J 2 did not support configuration through properties file when it was initially released. It was from Log4J 2.4 that support for properties file was again added, but with a completely different syntax.

Log4J4 Maven Dependencies

To use Log4J 2 in your application, you need to ensure that the Log4J 2 jars are on your project classpath. If you intend to use properties file, give extra attention to ensure that you have the Log4J 2.4 or greater jars on the classpath. Otherwise, your properties file will not get picked.
When using Maven, specify the following Log4J 2 dependencies.

. . .
<dependency>
   <groupId>org.apache.logging.log4j</groupId>
   <artifactId>log4j-api</artifactId>
   <version>2.5</version>
</dependency>
<dependency>
   <groupId>org.apache.logging.log4j</groupId>
   <artifactId>log4j-core</artifactId>
   <version>2.5</version>
</dependency>
. . .

Log4J 2 Spring Boot Dependencies

If you want to use Log4J 2 in a Spring Boot project, things can be a bit tricky. Simply adding the dependencies above won’t work as Spring Boot will first find the default Logback classic on the classpath, and will use it. Therefore, you need to exclude the default dependency of the Spring Boot starter on Logback classic, and instead include the Spring Boot starter dependency on Log4J 2, like this.

. . .
<dependency>
   <groupId>org.springframework.boot</groupId>
   <artifactId>spring-boot-starter</artifactId>
   <exclusions>
      <exclusion>
         <groupId>org.springframework.boot</groupId>
         <artifactId>spring-boot-starter-logging</artifactId>
      </exclusion>
   </exclusions>
</dependency>
<dependency>
   <groupId>org.springframework.boot</groupId>
   <artifactId>spring-boot-starter-log4j2</artifactId>
</dependency>
. . .

This will configure Spring Boot to use Log4J 2, but with a catch – You still won’t be able to use properties file for configuration. As of Spring Boot 1.3.3 Release, Spring Boot starter dependency on Log4J 2 is for Log4J 2.1, and as I have already mentioned it is from Log4J 2.4 onward that properties file is supported. Therefore, you need to explicitly specify dependencies of Log4J 2.4 or above after excluding Spring Boot starter logging, like this.

. . .
<dependency>
   <groupId>org.springframework.boot</groupId>
   <artifactId>spring-boot-starter</artifactId>
   <exclusions>
      <exclusion>
         <groupId>org.springframework.boot</groupId>
         <artifactId>spring-boot-starter-logging</artifactId>
      </exclusion>
   </exclusions>
</dependency>

<dependency>
   <groupId>org.apache.logging.log4j</groupId>
   <artifactId>log4j-api</artifactId>
   <version>2.5</version>
</dependency>
<dependency>
   <groupId>org.apache.logging.log4j</groupId>
   <artifactId>log4j-core</artifactId>
   <version>2.5</version>
</dependency>
. . .

The above dependencies will set up Log4J 2 to use properties file in a Spring Boot application.

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Configuring Log4J 2 using Properties File

By default, Log4J 2 looks for a properties file with the name log4j2.properties in the classpath. In a Spring Boot application, the log4j2.properties file will typically be in the resources folder.

Before we start configuring Log4J 2, we will write a Java class to generate log messages via Log4J 2.

Log4J2PropertiesConf.java

   //package guru.springframework.blog.log4j2properties;

import org.apache.logging.log4j.LogManager;
import org.apache.logging.log4j.Logger;

public class Log4J2PropertiesConf {
    private static Logger logger = LogManager.getLogger();
    public void performSomeTask(){
        logger.debug("This is a debug message");
        logger.info("This is an info message");
        logger.warn("This is a warn message");
        logger.error("This is an error message");
        logger.fatal("This is a fatal message");
    }
}

To test the Log4J2PropertiesConf class above, we will write a JUnit test class.

Log4J2PropertiesConfTest.java

   //404: Not Found

We will now configure Log4J 2 using a properties file. Like any other Java properties file, a log4j2.properties file are a set of key value pairs with options to configure the various components of Log4J 2, such as loggers, appenders, and layouts. A basic log4j2.properties file starts with a name, optional properties to be used in other parts of the file, and appender declarations.

name=PropertiesConfig
property.filename = logs
appenders = console, file
. . .

The preceding code declares two appenders, named console and file. Next, let’s configure both the appenders to write log messages to the console and a file. The configuration code for the appenders is this.

. . .
appender.console.type = Console
appender.console.name = STDOUT
appender.console.layout.type = PatternLayout
appender.console.layout.pattern = [%-5level] %d{yyyy-MM-dd HH:mm:ss.SSS} [%t] %c{1} - %msg%n

appender.file.type = File
appender.file.name = LOGFILE
appender.file.fileName=${filename}/propertieslogs.log
appender.file.layout.type=PatternLayout
appender.file.layout.pattern=[%-5level] %d{yyyy-MM-dd HH:mm:ss.SSS} [%t] %c{1} - %msg%n
. . .

In the code above we configured two appenders: One to write log messages to the console and the other to a log file. Both the appenders use pattern layouts that are configurable with conversion pattern strings to format log messages. The appender.console.layout.pattern property specifies the pattern string. You can learn more about the pattern layout and conversion pattern strings here. For the file appender, we used the appender.file.fileName property to specify the name and location of the log file that Log4J 2 will generate. Here, notice the ${filename} declaration that we used as a substitution for the property.filename property we declared earlier.

Next we will configure the loggers, starting from the root logger.

. . .
rootLogger.level = debug
rootLogger.appenderRefs = stdout
rootLogger.appenderRef.stdout.ref = STDOUT
. . .

In the code above, we configured the root logger to log debug and its lower level messages to the console (stdout). When we run the Log4J2PropertiesConfTest test class, the output in the IntelliJ console will be similar to this.
Log4J 2 Messages in InteliJ Console

The complete log4j2.properties file is this.

log4j2.properties

   //name=PropertiesConfig
property.filename = logs
appenders = console, file

appender.console.type = Console
appender.console.name = STDOUT
appender.console.layout.type = PatternLayout
appender.console.layout.pattern = [%-5level] %d{yyyy-MM-dd HH:mm:ss.SSS} [%t] %c{1} - %msg%n

appender.file.type = File
appender.file.name = LOGFILE
appender.file.fileName=${filename}/propertieslogs.log
appender.file.layout.type=PatternLayout
appender.file.layout.pattern=[%-5level] %d{yyyy-MM-dd HH:mm:ss.SSS} [%t] %c{1} - %msg%n

loggers=file
logger.file.name=guru.springframework.blog.log4j2properties
logger.file.level = debug
logger.file.appenderRefs = file
logger.file.appenderRef.file.ref = LOGFILE

rootLogger.level = debug
rootLogger.appenderRefs = stdout
rootLogger.appenderRef.stdout.ref = STDOUT

When we run the Log4J2PropertiesConfTest test class now, log messages will be sent to the logs/propertieslogs.log by the file logger and additively to the console by the root logger. The following figure shows the log messages sent to the file and console in IntelliJ.

Log4J 2 Output in IntelliJ

In the example above, it is due to logger additivity that caused log messages to be sent to the file by the logger and additively to the console by the root logger. You can override this default behavior by setting the additivity flag of a logger to false.

. . .
logger.file.additivity = false
. . .

The property above configures our file appender so that it is no longer additive. Thus, log messages will only be sent to the file.

Appender additivity can be somewhat confusing. I suggest reviewing the Log4J 2 documentation on the subject, where they have some good examples how this works.

Summary

Using properties file is one of the several options you have to configure Log4J 2. Log4J 2 is gradually moving to XML configuration and the new JSON and YAML configurations. Properties configuration cannot handle some advanced features, such as custom error handlers, time-based rolling policies, nested appenders, and special types of appenders, such as async appenders. However, properties configuration is still being extensively used. Often you don’t need many of the more advanced logging features of Log4J 2. So you’re fine using the simplicity of the properties file configuration.

In future posts, I will cover using other configuration options for Log4J 2. This is to address logging configurations with more complex requirements.

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