Logging

Sending log messages

Simple generic messages

The qDebug, qWarning, and qCritical macros can be used for sending quick and simple messages for development purposes. By default, they are always emitted to the console. They can also be picked up by BlackMisc::CLogHandler, just like the categorized messages can.

Categorized messages

::: {.todo} See also: CLogMessage doxygen link. :::

Giving each message a category allows it to be handled more intelligently. Qt provides native support for logging categories. BlackMisc::CLogMessage is a wrapper around QDebug with a slightly different API. The normal use case is based around creating a temporary instance of CLogMessage. When the temporary is destroyed at the end of the full expression, the message is sent, which is similar to how QDebug works.

The default category

If CLogMessage is used without specifying a category, then the value CLogMessage::defaultMessageCategory() is used ("swift").

This will send a debug message created by concatenating the streamed values:

CLogMessage() << "the time is" << time << "and there are" << planes.size() << "planes in the sky";

This will send an info message created by substituting the %1, %2,... placeholders for the streamed values: (see QString documentation)

CLogMessage().info("The time is %1 and there are %2 planes in the sky") << time << planes.size();

Similarly these will send a warning or error message:

CLogMessage().warning("%1 is not a valid ICAO code") << icao;
CLogMessage().error("%1 is not a valid ICAO code") << icao;

Specifying a category

An explicit category string can be specified when using CLogMessage.

This will send a debug message created by concatenating the streamed values:

CLogMessage().debug("swift.planes.counter.timed") << "the time is" << time << "and there are" << planes.size() << "planes in the sky";

This will send an info message created by substituting the %1, %2,... placeholders for the streamed values:

CLogMessage().info("swift.planes.counter.timed", "The time is %1 and there are %2 planes in the sky") << time << planes.size();

Similarly these will send a warning or error message:

CLogMessage().warning("swift.icao.validation", "%1 is not a valid ICAO code") << icao;
CLogMessage().error("swift.icao.validation", "%1 is not a valid ICAO code") << icao;

Parameterizing the category

Hard-coded category strings are hard to maintain and easy to get wrong. Instead of passing an explicit string, it is possible to pass a pointer to any object of class type, and the category string will be obtained by calling ->getMessageCategory() on that pointer.

A class which sends log messages should define its own category string method:

class CTimedPlaneCounter
{
public:
    static QString getMessageCategory() { return "swift.planes.counter.timed"; }
    //...
};

Then this will send a debug message created by concatenating the streamed values:

void CTimedPlaneCounter::count()
{
    //...
    CLogMessage().debug(this) << "the time is" << time << "and there are" << planes.size() << "planes in the sky";
}

This will send an info message created by substituting the %1, %2,... placeholders for the streamed values:

void CTimedPlaneCounter::count()
{
    //...
    CLogMessage().info(this, "The time is %1 and there are %2 planes in the sky") << time << planes.size();
}

Similarly these will send a warning or error message:

void CIcaoValidator::validate()
{
    //...
    CLogMessage().warning(this, "%1 is not a valid ICAO code") << icao;
    CLogMessage().error(this, "%1 is not a valid ICAO code") << icao;
}

Directly returning log messages

CLogMessage is implicitly convertible to CStatusMessage. This means that a CLogMessage expression can appear in a return statement of a method which returns CStatusMessage, so the caller of the method can have direct, synchronous access to the message which was the result of the method:

CStatusMessage CFoo::doSomething()
{
    //...
    return CLogMessage() << "something went wrong";
}

The message is still emitted and can still be handled by CLogHandler as normal. See "Implementation challenges" below for information on avoiding double handling of such messages.

Receiving log messages

Signals for all messages

::: {.todo} See also: CStatusMessage doxygen link. :::

CLogHandler is a class for subscribing to log messages in different categories. The singleton pointer is obtained from CLogHandler::instance().

::: {.warning} ::: {.title} Warning :::

CLogHandler can not be used in plugins, because of the singleton pattern. :::

The application's main function should call CLogHandler::instance()->install() to tell the handler to install itself as the Qt message handler using qInstallMessageHandler.

CLogHandler has two signals which can be connected to: localMessageLogged which is emitted when a message is logged in this process, and remoteMessageLogged which is emitted when a message is relayed from a different process via DBus.

Signals for specific message categories

::: {.todo} See also: CStatusMessage doxygen link. :::

CLogHandler has a method handlerForCategory which takes a QString prefix and returns a pointer to a CLogCategoryHandler which associates itself with all messages whose category strings start with the given prefix.

CLogCategoryHandler has one signal which can be connected to: messageLogged which is emitted whenever a message is logged whose category string starts with the associated prefix.

Console output

By default, all log messages are forwarded to the Qt default message handler which prints them to the console. CLogHandler has a method enableConsoleOutput(bool) for disabling this behaviour. CLogCategoryHandler also has a method enableConsoleOutput(bool) for enabling or disabling this behaviour at the category level.

Relaying over DBus

The application context is responsible for relaying the log messages between the CLogHandler instances of different processes.

Subscribing

You can create a CLogPattern to match various kinds of messages, and then pass the CLogPattern to CLogHandler to obtain a handler whose messageLogged signal will be emitted when a message matching your CLogPattern is logged.

A CLogPattern can match messages by severity, category, combinations of categories and severities, category prefixes, suffixes and substrings.

Usage examples

// a pattern which matches all warnings
auto pattern = CLogPattern().withSeverity(CStatusMessage::SeverityWarning);

// subscribe to all warnings
auto *handler = CLogHandler::instance()->handlerForPattern(CLogPattern().withSeverity(CStatusMessage::SeverityWarning));
connect(handler, &CLogPatternHandler::messageLogged, this, &CFoo::mySlot);

// subscribe to all errors
auto *handler = CLogHandler::instance()->handlerForPattern(CLogPattern().withSeverity(CStatusMessage::SeverityError));
connect(handler, &CLogPatternHandler::messageLogged, this, &CFoo::mySlot);

// subscribe to all warnings and errors
auto *handler = CLogHandler::instance()->handlerForPattern(CLogPattern().withSeverityAtOrAbove(CStatusMessage::SeverityWarning));
connect(handler, &CLogPatternHandler::messageLogged, this, &CFoo::mySlot);

// subscribe to all validation warnings and validation errors
auto *handler = CLogHandler::instance()->handlerForPattern(CLogPattern::exactMatch(CLogCategory::validation()).withSeverityAtOrAbove(CStatusMessage::SeverityWarning));
connect(handler, &CLogPatternHandler::messageLogged, this, &CFoo::mySlot);

// convenience to get the handler and connect the signal in the same step
CLogHandler::instance()->handlerForPattern(CLogPattern::exactMatch(CLogCategory::validation()).withSeverityAtOrAbove(CStatusMessage::SeverityWarning))->subscribe(this, &CFoo::mySlot);

// convenience for validation messages
CLogHandler::instance()->handlerForValidation()->subscribe(this, &CFoo::mySlot);

CLogPattern uses QSet internally, which made it difficult to use the meta tuple. I had to implement some of the CValueObject methods by hand. I didn't bother trying to find a clever workaround as I'm going to be refactoring CValueObject soon anyway.

The topologicalSort and isProperSubsetOf stuff allows CLogPattern to be sorted by generality, so more specific patterns come first. For example, CLogPattern::startsWith("foo") is more general than CLogPattern::startsWith("foobar") because the latter matches a proper subset of the messages which the former matches. This is not compatible with the standard sorting algorithms, because in the case of CLogPattern::startsWith("foo") and CLogPattern::startsWith("bar") neither one is a subset of the other, so it is unspecified which should come first. This functionality is used by the mechanism for selectively enabling console output. If console output is enabled for messages matching CLogPattern::startsWith("foo") but disabled for messages matching CLogPattern::startsWith("bar") then the setting for the more specific pattern will win.

Implementation challenges

Qt only supports three standard message severities: QtDebugMsg, QtWarningMsg, and QtCriticalMsg. It is necessary to map these to our four message severities: Debug, Info, Warning, and Error.

CLogMessage is implicitly convertible to CStatusMessage for directly returning from the method which generated it (see "Directly returning log messages" above). In order to avoid double handling of such messages, we need a way to mark messages as having been already potentially handled by direct return value.

The solution to both of the above two problems is category suffix codes. When the message is being passed through Qt's message logging framework, we add suffixes to the category string to mark these flags. When handling the message, the suffixes are removed, so the user of CLogMessage and CLogHandler are not aware of them.

The isRedundant method of CStatusMessage can be used in a slot connected to one of the CLogHandler or CLogCategoryHandler signals, to detect if the message was already potentially handled by a direct return value from the method which generated it.

Last modified 28.06.2020: Add content (0e00ae5)