Chapter 13: Migration from log4j

The more things change, the more they remain the same.

—ALPHONSE KARR, Les Guêpes

This chapter deals with the topic of migrating custom log4j components such as appenders or layouts to logback-classic.

Software which merely invokes log4j client API, that is the Logger or Category classes in org.apache.log4j package, can be automatically migrated to use SLF4J via the SLF4J migrator tool. To migrate log4j.property files into its logback equivalent, you can use the log4j.properties translator.

From a broader perspective, log4j and logback-classic are closely related. The core components, such as loggers, appenders and layouts exist in both frameworks and serve identical purposes. Similarly, the most important internal data-structure, namely LoggingEvent, exists in both frameworks with rather similar but non-identical implementations. Most notably, in logback-classic LoggingEvent implements the ILoggingEvent interface. Most of the changes required in migrating log4j components to logback-classic are related to differences in implementation of the LoggingEvent class. Rest assured, these differences are rather limited. If in spite of your best efforts you are unable to migrate any given log4j component to logback-classic, do post a question on the logback-dev mailing list. A logback developer should be able to provide guidance.

Migrating a log4j layout

Let us begin by migrating a hypothetical and trivially simple log4j layout named TrivialLog4jLayout which returns the message contained in a logging events as the formatted message. Here is the code.

package chapters.migrationFromLog4j;

import org.apache.log4j.Layout;
import org.apache.log4j.spi.LoggingEvent;

public class TrivialLog4jLayout extends Layout {

  public void activateOptions() {
    // there are no options to activate
  }

  public String format(LoggingEvent loggingEvent) {
    return loggingEvent.getRenderedMessage();
  }

  public boolean ignoresThrowable() {
    return true;
  }
}

The logback-classic equivalent named TrivialLogbackLayout would be

package chapters.migrationFromLog4j;

import ch.qos.logback.classic.spi.ILoggingEvent;
import ch.qos.logback.core.LayoutBase;

public class TrivialLogbackLayout extends LayoutBase<ILoggingEvent> {

  public String doLayout(ILoggingEvent loggingEvent) {
    return loggingEvent.getMessage();
  }
}    

As you can see, in a logback-classic layout, the formatting method is named doLayout instead of format() in log4j. The ignoresThrowable() method is not needed and has no equivalent in logback-classic. Note that a logback-classic layout must extend the LayoutBase<ILoggingEvent> class.

The activateOptions() method merits further discussion. In log4j, a layout will have its activateOptions() method invoked by log4j configurators, that is PropertyConfigurator or DOMConfigurator just after all the options of the layout have been set. Thus, the layout will have an opportunity to check that its options are coherent and if so, proceed to fully initialize itself.

In logback-classic, layouts must implement the LifeCycle interface which includes a method called start(). The start() method is the equivalent of log4j's activateOptions() method.

Migrating a log4j appender

Migrating an appender is quite similar to migrating a layout. Here is a trivially simple appender called TrivialLog4jAppender which writes on the console the string returned by its layout.

package chapters.migrationFromLog4j;

import org.apache.log4j.AppenderSkeleton;
import org.apache.log4j.spi.LoggingEvent;


public class TrivialLog4jAppender extends AppenderSkeleton {

  protected void append(LoggingEvent loggingevent) {
    String s = this.layout.format(loggingevent);
    System.out.println(s);
  }

  public void close() {
    // nothing to do
  }

  public boolean requiresLayout() {
    return true;
  }
}

The logback-classic equivalent named TrivialLogbackAppender would be written as

package chapters.migrationFromLog4j;

import ch.qos.logback.classic.spi.ILoggingEvent;
import ch.qos.logback.core.AppenderBase;

public class TrivialLogbackAppender extends AppenderBase<ILoggingEvent> {

  @Override
  public void start() {
    if (this.layout == null) {
      addError("No layout set for the appender named [" + name + "].");
      return;
    }
    super.start();
  }

  @Override
  protected void append(ILoggingEvent loggingevent) {
    // note that AppenderBase.doAppend will invoke this method only if
    // this appender was successfully started.
    
    String s = this.layout.doLayout(loggingevent);
    System.out.println(s);
  }
}

Comparing the two classes, you should notice that the contents of the append() method remains unchanged. The requiresLayout method is not used in logback and can be removed. In logback, the stop() method is the equivalent of log4j's close() method. However, AppenderBase in logback-classic, contains a nop implementation for stop which is sufficient for the purposes of this trivial appender.