Loud logs help no one!

As a software developer, we have to be both Michaelangelo and Sherlock Holmes every now and then. Michaelangelo in the sense that every now and then we get the opportunity to create something stunning, something beautiful virtually out of nothingness. Sherlock Holmes because more often than not, things go wrong and we have to go hunting for the clues that will lead us to the perpetrator. Guess which one we get to play more ?

So that raises the question that how can we make debugging easier for ourselves? Since we write the code that breaks down, surely there is a way to ensure that we get something in the log output every now and then to ensure things went smoothly, or otherwise. Hence we developers starting putting random statements into log outputs and helped ensure that system administrators who have to monitor this output day in and day out hate us with the passion of a supernova. Well done lads!!!

So here is my beef. Lets not put every thing in logs. As Holmes points out to Inspector Lestrade in the case of A Study in Scarlet, it would have been much better for the former if the latter had not muddied up the scene with too much superficial information. A case in point is the starting up log output of JBoss. It is horrendously loud, verbose and useless. Most of it is INFO and very little is needed to be debugged. It takes 53 seconds to start, yes 53 seconds and in that 53 seconds Apple’s native terminal might run out of buffer space. And if something goes wrong, then well best of luck with your scrolling abilities.

There is a reason why discretion is the better part of valour, and debugging. Log only that which is critical. Remember, you are not the only one who has to see these logs and perhaps sift through them. System administrators and QA also have to look and sift through them and it does no one good when it is full of rubbish. We do not need to log everything. If someone tells you to err on the side of caution, tell them to bugger off.

Remember, a log output is like the program trying to talk to you. The more appropriate its trumption, the easier it is to understand.


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About “Mujtaba Hussain”

I have no idea what to write here :(