Boost C++ Libraries

...one of the most highly regarded and expertly designed C++ library projects in the world. Herb Sutter and Andrei Alexandrescu, C++ Coding Standards

PrevUpHomeNext

Sink frontends

Basic sink frontend services
Unlocked sink frontend
Synchronous sink frontend
Asynchronous sink frontend

Sink frontends are the part of sinks provided by the library, that implements the common functionality shared between all sinks. This includes support for filtering, exception handling and thread synchronization. Also, since formatting is typical for text-based sinks, it is implemented by frontends as well. Every sink frontend receives log records from the logging core and then passes them along to the associated sink backend. The frontend does not define how to process records but rather in what way the core should interact with the backend. It is the backend that defines the processing rules of the log records. You probably won't have to write your own frontend when you need to create a new type of sink, because the library provides a number of frontends that cover most use cases.

Sink frontends derive from the sink class template, which is used by the logging core to supply log records. Technically speaking, one can derive his class from the sink template and have his new-found sink, but using sink frontends saves from quite an amount of routine work. As every sink frontend is associated with a backend, the corresponding backend will also be constructed by the frontend upon its construction (unless the user provides the backend instance himself), making the sink complete. Therefore, when the frontend is constructed it can be registered in the logging core to begin processing records. See the Sink Backends section for more details on interactions between frontends and backends.

Below is a more detailed overview of the services provided by sink frontends.

There are a number of basic functionalities that all sink frontends provide.

All sink frontends support filtering. The user can specify a custom filtering function object or a filter constructed with the library-provided tools. The filter can be set with the set_filter method or cleared with the reset_filter method. The filter is invoked during the call to the will_consume method that is issued by the logging core. If the filter is not set, it is assumed that the sink will accept any log record.

[Note] Note

Like the logging core, all sink frontends assume it is safe to call filters from multiple threads concurrently. This is fine with the library-provided filters.

For text-based sink backends, frontends implement record formatting. Like with filters, lambda expressions can be used to construct formatters. The formatter can be set for a text-based sink by calling the set_formatter method or cleared by calling reset_formatter.

All sink frontends allow setting up exception handlers in order to customize error processing on a per-sink basis. One can install an exception handling function with the set_exception_handler method, this function will be called with no arguments from a catch block if an exception occurs during record processing in the backend or during the sink-specific filtering. The exception handler is free to rethrow an exception or to suppress it. In the former case the exception is propagated to the core, where another layer of exception handling can come into action.

[Tip] Tip

Logging core and loggers also support installing exception handlers.

The library provides a convenient tool for dispatching exceptions into a unary polymorphic function object.

[Note] Note

An exception handler is not allowed to return a value. This means you are not able to alter the filtering result once an exception occurs, and thus filtering will always fail.

[Note] Note

All sink frontends assume it is safe to call exception handlers from multiple threads concurrently. This is fine with the library-provided exception dispatchers.

#include <boost/log/sinks/unlocked_frontend.hpp>

The unlocked sink frontend is implemented with the unlocked_sink class template. This frontend provides the most basic service for the backend. The unlocked_sink frontend performs no thread synchronization when accessing the backend, assuming that synchronization either is not needed or is implemented by the backend. Nevertheless, setting up a filter is still thread-safe (that is, one can safely change the filter in the unlocked_sink frontend while other threads are writing logs through this sink). This is the only sink frontend available in a single threaded environment. The example of use is as follows:

enum severity_level
{
    normal,
    warning,
    error
};

// A trivial sink backend that requires no thread synchronization
class my_backend :
    public sinks::basic_sink_backend< sinks::concurrent_feeding >
{
public:
    // The function is called for every log record to be written to log
    void consume(logging::record_view const& rec)
    {
        // We skip the actual synchronization code for brevity
        std::cout << rec[expr::smessage] << std::endl;
    }
};

// Complete sink type
typedef sinks::unlocked_sink< my_backend > sink_t;

void init_logging()
{
    boost::shared_ptr< logging::core > core = logging::core::get();

    // The simplest way, the backend is default-constructed
    boost::shared_ptr< sink_t > sink1(new sink_t());
    core->add_sink(sink1);

    // One can construct backend separately and pass it to the frontend
    boost::shared_ptr< my_backend > backend(new my_backend());
    boost::shared_ptr< sink_t > sink2(new sink_t(backend));
    core->add_sink(sink2);

    // You can manage filtering through the sink interface
    sink1->set_filter(expr::attr< severity_level >("Severity") >= warning);
    sink2->set_filter(expr::attr< std::string >("Channel") == "net");
}

See the complete code.

All sink backends provided by the library require thread synchronization on the frontend part. If we tried to instantiate the frontend on the backend that requires more strict threading guarantees than what the frontend provides, the code wouldn't have compiled. Therefore this frontend is mostly useful in single-threaded environments and with custom backends.

#include <boost/log/sinks/sync_frontend.hpp>

The synchronous sink frontend is implemented with the synchronous_sink class template. It is similar to the unlocked_sink but additionally provides thread synchronization with a mutex before passing log records to the backend. All sink backends that support formatting currently require thread synchronization in the frontend.

The synchronous sink also introduces the ability to acquire a pointer to the locked backend. As long as the pointer exists, the backend is guaranteed not to be accessed from other threads, unless the access is done through another frontend or a direct reference to the backend. This feature can be useful if there is a need to perform some updates on the sink backend while other threads may be writing logs. Beware, though, that while the backend is locked any other thread that tries to write a log record to the sink gets blocked until the backend is released.

The usage is similar to the unlocked_sink.

enum severity_level
{
    normal,
    warning,
    error
};

// Complete sink type
typedef sinks::synchronous_sink< sinks::text_ostream_backend > sink_t;

void init_logging()
{
    boost::shared_ptr< logging::core > core = logging::core::get();

    // Create a backend and initialize it with a stream
    boost::shared_ptr< sinks::text_ostream_backend > backend =
        boost::make_shared< sinks::text_ostream_backend >();
    backend->add_stream(
        boost::shared_ptr< std::ostream >(&std::clog, boost::empty_deleter()));

    // Wrap it into the frontend and register in the core
    boost::shared_ptr< sink_t > sink(new sink_t(backend));
    core->add_sink(sink);

    // You can manage filtering and formatting through the sink interface
    sink->set_filter(expr::attr< severity_level >("Severity") >= warning);
    sink->set_formatter
    (
        expr::stream
            << "Level: " << expr::attr< severity_level >("Severity")
            << " Message: " << expr::smessage
    );

    // You can also manage backend in a thread-safe manner
    {
        sink_t::locked_backend_ptr p = sink->locked_backend();
        p->add_stream(boost::make_shared< std::ofstream >("sample.log"));
    } // the backend gets released here
}

See the complete code.

#include <boost/log/sinks/async_frontend.hpp>

// Related headers
#include <boost/log/sinks/unbounded_fifo_queue.hpp>
#include <boost/log/sinks/unbounded_ordering_queue.hpp>
#include <boost/log/sinks/bounded_fifo_queue.hpp>
#include <boost/log/sinks/bounded_ordering_queue.hpp>
#include <boost/log/sinks/drop_on_overflow.hpp>
#include <boost/log/sinks/block_on_overflow.hpp>

The frontend is implemented in the asynchronous_sink class template. Like the synchronous one, asynchronous sink frontend provides a way of synchronizing access to the backend. All log records are passed to the backend in a dedicated thread, which makes it suitable for backends that may block for a considerable amount of time (network and other hardware device-related sinks, for example). The internal thread of the frontend is spawned on the frontend constructor and joined on its destructor (which implies that the frontend destruction may block).

[Note] Note

The current implementation of the asynchronous sink frontend use record queueing. This introduces a certain latency between the fact of record emission and its actual processing (such as writing into a file). This behavior may be inadequate in some contexts, such as debugging an application that is prone to crashes.

enum severity_level
{
    normal,
    warning,
    error
};

// Complete sink type
typedef sinks::asynchronous_sink< sinks::text_ostream_backend > sink_t;

boost::shared_ptr< sink_t > init_logging()
{
    boost::shared_ptr< logging::core > core = logging::core::get();

    // Create a backend and initialize it with a stream
    boost::shared_ptr< sinks::text_ostream_backend > backend =
        boost::make_shared< sinks::text_ostream_backend >();
    backend->add_stream(
        boost::shared_ptr< std::ostream >(&std::clog, boost::empty_deleter()));

    // Wrap it into the frontend and register in the core
    boost::shared_ptr< sink_t > sink(new sink_t(backend));
    core->add_sink(sink);

    // You can manage filtering and formatting through the sink interface
    sink->set_filter(expr::attr< severity_level >("Severity") >= warning);
    sink->set_formatter
    (
        expr::stream
            << "Level: " << expr::attr< severity_level >("Severity")
            << " Message: " << expr::message
    );

    // You can also manage backend in a thread-safe manner
    {
        sink_t::locked_backend_ptr p = sink->locked_backend();
        p->add_stream(boost::make_shared< std::ofstream >("sample.log"));
    } // the backend gets released here

    return sink;
}

[Important] Important

If asynchronous logging is used in a multi-module application, one should decide carefully when to unload dynamically loaded modules that write logs. The library has many places where it may end up using resources that reside in the dynamically loaded module. Examples of such resources are virtual tables, string literals and functions. If any of these resources are still used by the library when the module in which they reside gets unloaded, the application will most likely crash. Strictly speaking, this problem exists with any sink type (and is not limited to sinks in the first place), but asynchronous sinks introduce an additional problem. One cannot tell which resources are used by the asynchronous sink because it works in a dedicated thread and uses buffered log records. There is no general solution for this issue. Users are advised to either avoid dynamic module unloading during the application's work time, or to avoid asynchronous logging. As an additional way to cope with the problem, one may try to shutdown all asynchronous sinks before unloading any modules, and after unloading re-create them. However, avoiding dynamic unloading is the only way to solve the problem completely.

In order to stop the dedicated thread feeding log records to the backend one can call the stop method of the frontend. This method will be called automatically in the frontend destructor. The stop method, unlike thread interruption, will only terminate the feeding loop when a log record that is being fed is processed by the backend (i.e. it will not interrupt the record processing that has already started). However, it may happen that some records are still left in the queue after returning from the stop method. In order to flush them to the backend an additional call to the feed_records method is required. This is useful in the application termination stage.

void stop_logging(boost::shared_ptr< sink_t >& sink)
{
    boost::shared_ptr< logging::core > core = logging::core::get();

    // Remove the sink from the core, so that no records are passed to it
    core->remove_sink(sink);

    // Break the feeding loop
    sink->stop();

    // Flush all log records that may have left buffered
    sink->flush();

    sink.reset();
}

See the complete code.

Spawning the dedicated thread for log record feeding can be suppressed with the optional boolean start_thread named parameter of the frontend. In this case the user can select either way of processing records:

  • Call the run method of the frontend. This call will block in the feeding loop. This loop can be interrupted with the call to stop.
  • Periodically call feed_records. This method will process all the log records that were in the frontend queue when the call was issued and then return.
[Note] Note

Users should take care not to mix these two approaches concurrently. Also, none of these methods should be called if the dedicated feeding thread is running (i.e., the start_thread was not specified in the construction or had the value of true.

Customizing record queueing strategy

The asynchronous_sink class template can be customized with the record queueing strategy. Several strategies are provided by the library:

[Warning] Warning

Be careful with unbounded queueing strategies. Since the queue has unlimited depth, if log records are continuously generated faster than being processed by the backend the queue grows uncontrollably which manifests itself as a memory leak.

Bounded queues support the following overflow strategies:

  • drop_on_overflow. When the queue is full, silently drop excessive log records.
  • block_on_overflow. When the queue is full, block the logging thread until the backend feeding thread manages to process some of the queued records.

For example, this is how we could modify the previous example to limit the record queue to 100 elements:

// Complete sink type
typedef sinks::asynchronous_sink<
    sinks::text_ostream_backend,
    sinks::bounded_fifo_queue<                                                   1
        100,                                                                     2
        sinks::drop_on_overflow                                                  3
    >
> sink_t;

boost::shared_ptr< sink_t > init_logging()
{
    boost::shared_ptr< logging::core > core = logging::core::get();

    // Create a backend and initialize it with a stream
    boost::shared_ptr< sinks::text_ostream_backend > backend =
        boost::make_shared< sinks::text_ostream_backend >();
    backend->add_stream(
        boost::shared_ptr< std::ostream >(&std::clog, boost::empty_deleter()));

    // Wrap it into the frontend and register in the core
    boost::shared_ptr< sink_t > sink(new sink_t(backend));
    core->add_sink(sink);

    // ...

    return sink;
}

1

log record queueing strategy

2

record queue capacity

3

overflow handling policy

See the complete code.

Also see the bounded_async_log example in the library distribution.

Ordering log records

Record ordering can be useful to alleviate the weak record ordering issue present in multithreaded applications.

Ordering queueing strategies introduce a small latency to the record processing. The latency duration and the ordering predicate can be specified on the frontend construction. It may be useful to employ the log record ordering tools to implement ordering predicates.

// Complete sink type
typedef sinks::asynchronous_sink<
    sinks::text_ostream_backend,
    sinks::unbounded_ordering_queue<                                             1
        logging::attribute_value_ordering<                                       2
            unsigned int,                                                        3
            std::less< unsigned int >                                            4
        >
    >
> sink_t;

boost::shared_ptr< sink_t > init_logging()
{
    boost::shared_ptr< logging::core > core = logging::core::get();

    // Create a backend and initialize it with a stream
    boost::shared_ptr< sinks::text_ostream_backend > backend =
        boost::make_shared< sinks::text_ostream_backend >();
    backend->add_stream(
        boost::shared_ptr< std::ostream >(&std::clog, boost::empty_deleter()));

    // Wrap it into the frontend and register in the core
    boost::shared_ptr< sink_t > sink(new sink_t(
        backend,                                                                 5
        keywords::order =
            logging::make_attr_ordering("LineID", std::less< unsigned int >()),  6
        keywords::ordering_window = boost::posix_time::seconds(1)                7
    ));
    core->add_sink(sink);

    // You can manage filtering and formatting through the sink interface
    sink->set_filter(expr::attr< severity_level >("Severity") >= warning);
    sink->set_formatter
    (
        expr::stream
            << "Level: " << expr::attr< severity_level >("Severity")
            << " Message: " << expr::smessage
    );

    // You can also manage backend in a thread-safe manner
    {
        sink_t::locked_backend_ptr p = sink->locked_backend();
        p->add_stream(boost::make_shared< std::ofstream >("sample.log"));
    } // the backend gets released here

    return sink;
}

1

log record queueing strategy

2

log record ordering predicate type

3

attribute value type

4

optional, attribute value comparison predicate; std::less equivalent is used by default

5

pointer to the pre-initialized backend

6

log record ordering predicate

7

latency of log record processing

In the code sample above the sink frontend will keep log records in the internal queue for up to one second and apply ordering based on the log record counter of type unsigned int. The ordering_window parameter is optional and will default to some reasonably small system-specific value that will suffice to maintain chronological flow of log records to the backend.

The ordering window is maintained by the frontend even upon stopping the internal feeding loop, so that it would be possible to reenter the loop without breaking the record ordering. On the other hand, in order to ensure that all log records are flushed to the backend one has to call the flush method at the end of the application.

void stop_logging(boost::shared_ptr< sink_t >& sink)
{
    boost::shared_ptr< logging::core > core = logging::core::get();

    // Remove the sink from the core, so that no records are passed to it
    core->remove_sink(sink);

    // Break the feeding loop
    sink->stop();

    // Flush all log records that may have left buffered
    sink->flush();

    sink.reset();
}

This technique is also demonstrated in the async_log example in the library distribution.


PrevUpHomeNext