++ed by:

40 PAUSE users
41 non-PAUSE users.

Mike Schilli


Log::Log4perl::FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions on Log::Log4perl


This FAQ shows a wide variety of commonly encountered logging tasks and how to solve them in the most elegant way with Log::Log4perl. Most of the time, this will be just a matter of smartly configuring your Log::Log4perl configuration files.

This document is supposed to grow week by week as the latest "Log::Log4perl recipe of the week" hits the Log::Log4perl mailing list at log4perl-devel@lists.sourceforge.net.

How can I simply log all my ERROR messages to a file?

After pulling in the Log::Log4perl module, just initialize its behaviour by passing in a configuration to its init method as a string reference. Then, obtain a logger instance and write out a message with its error() method:

    use Log::Log4perl qw(get_logger);

        # Define configuration
    my $conf = q(
        log4perl.logger                    = ERROR, FileApp
        log4perl.appender.FileApp          = Log::Log4perl::Appender::File
        log4perl.appender.FileApp.filename = test.log
        log4perl.appender.FileApp.layout   = PatternLayout
        log4perl.appender.FileApp.layout.ConversionPattern = %d> %m%n

        # Initialize logging behaviour
    Log::Log4perl->init( \$conf );

        # Obtain a logger instance
    my $logger = get_logger("Bar::Twix");
    $logger->error("Oh my, a dreadful error!");
    $logger->warn("Oh my, a dreadful warning!");

This will append something like

    2002/10/29 20:11:55> Oh my, a dreadful error!

to the log file test.log. How does this all work?

While the Log::Log4perl init() method typically takes the name of a configuration file as its input parameter like in

    Log::Log4perl->init( "/path/mylog.conf" );

the example above shows how to pass in a configuration as text in a scalar reference.

The configuration as shown defines a logger of the root category, which has an appender of type Log::Log4perl::Appender::File attached. The line

    log4perl.logger = ERROR, FileApp

doesn't list a category, defining a root logger. Compare that with

    log4perl.logger.Bar.Twix = ERROR, FileApp

which would define a logger for the category Bar::Twix, showing probably different behaviour. FileApp on the right side of the assignment is an arbitrarily defined variable name, which is only used to somehow reference an appender defined later on.

Appender settings in the configuration are defined as follows:

    log4perl.appender.FileApp          = Log::Log4perl::Appender::File
    log4perl.appender.FileApp.filename = test.log

It selects the file appender of the Log::Log4perl::Appender hierarchy, which will append to the file test.log if it already exists. If we wanted to overwrite a potentially existing file, we would have to explicitly set the appropriate Log::Log4perl::Appender::File parameter mode:

    log4perl.appender.FileApp          = Log::Log4perl::Appender::File
    log4perl.appender.FileApp.filename = test.log
    log4perl.appender.FileApp.mode     = write

Also, the configuration defines a PatternLayout format, adding the nicely formatted current date and time, an arrow (>) and a space before the messages, which is then followed by a newline:

    log4perl.appender.FileApp.layout   = PatternLayout
    log4perl.appender.FileApp.layout.ConversionPattern = %d> %m%n

Obtaining a logger instance and actually logging something is typically done in a different system part as the Log::Log4perl initialisation section, but in this example, it's just done right after init for the sake of compactness:

        # Obtain a logger instance
    my $logger = get_logger("Bar::Twix");
    $logger->error("Oh my, a dreadful error!");

This retrieves an instance of the logger of the category Bar::Twix, which, as all other categories, inherits behaviour from the root logger if no other loggers are defined in the initialization section.

The error() method fires up a message, which the root logger catches. Its priority is equal to or higher than the root logger's priority (ERROR), which causes the root logger to forward it to its attached appender. By contrast, the following

    $logger->warn("Oh my, a dreadful warning!");

doesn't make it through, because the root logger sports a higher setting (ERROR and up) than the WARN priority of the message.

How can I install Log::Log4perl on Microsoft Windows?

Log::Log4perl is fully supported on the Win32 platform. It has been tested with Activestate perl 5.6.1 under Windows 98 and rumor has it that it also runs smoothly on all other major flavors (Windows NT, 2000, XP, etc.).

It also runs nicely with ActiveState 5.8.0, and, believe me, we had to jump through some major hoops for that.

Typically, Win32 systems don't have the make utility installed, so the standard perl Makefile.PL; make install on the downloadable distribution won't work. But don't despair, there's a very easy solution!

The Log::Log4perl homepage provides a so-called PPD file for ActiveState's ppm installer, which comes with ActiveState perl by default.

Install on ActiveState 5.6.*

The DOS command line

    ppm install "http://log4perl.sourceforge.net/ppm/Log-Log4perl.ppd"

will contact the Log4perl homepage, download the latest Log::Log4perl distribution and install it. If your ActiveState installation lacks any of the modules Log::Log4perl depends upon, ppm will automatically contact ActivateState and download them from their CPAN-like repository.

Install on ActiveState 5.8.*

ActiveState's "Programmer's Package Manager" can be called from Window's Start Menu: Start->Programs->>ActiveState ActivePerl 5.8>Perl Package Manager will invoke ppm. Since Log::Log4perl hasn't made it yet into the standard ActiveState repository (and you probably don't want their outdated packages anyway), just tell ppm the first time you call it to add the Log4perl repository

    ppm> repository add http://log4perl.sourceforge.net/ppm

Then, just tell it to install Log::Log4perl and it will resolve all dependencies automatically and fetch them from log4perl.sourceforge.net if it can't find them in the main archives:

    ppm> install Log::Log4perl

That's it! Afterwards, just create a Perl script like

    use Log::Log4perl qw(:easy);

    my $logger = get_logger("Twix::Bar");
    $logger->debug("Watch me!");

and run it. It should print something like

    2002/11/06 01:22:05 Watch me!

If you find that something doesn't work, please let us know at log4perl-devel@lists.sourceforge.net -- we'll apprechiate it. Have fun!

What's the easiest way to use Log4perl?

If you just want to get all the comfort of logging, without much overhead, use Stealth Loggers. If you use Log::Log4perl in :easy mode like

    use Log::Log4perl qw(:easy);

you'll have the following functions available in the current package:


Just make sure that every package of your code where you're using them in pulls in use Log::Log4perl qw(:easy) first, then you're set. Every stealth logger's category will be equivalent to the name of the package it's located in.

These stealth loggers will be absolutely silent until you initialize Log::Log4perl in your main program with either

        # Define any Log4perl behaviour

(using a full-blown Log4perl config file) or the super-easy method

        # Just log to STDERR

or the parameter-style method with a complexity somewhat in between:

        # Append to a log file
    Log::Log4perl->easy_init( { level   => $DEBUG,
                                file    => ">>test.log" } );

For more info, please check out "Stealth Loggers" in Log::Log4perl.

How can I include global (thread-specific) data in my log messages?

Say, you're writing a web application and want all your log messages to include the current client's IP address. Most certainly, you don't want to include it in each and every log message like in

    $logger->debug( $r->connection->remote_ip,
                    " Retrieving user data from DB" );

do you? Instead, you want to set it in a global data structure and have Log::Log4perl include it automatically via a PatternLayout setting in the configuration file:

    log4perl.appender.FileApp.layout.ConversionPattern = %X{ip} %m%n

The conversion specifier %X{ip} references an entry under the key ip in the global MDC (mapped diagnostic context) table, which you've set once via

    Log::Log4perl::MDC->put("ip", $r->connection->remote_ip);

at the start of the request handler. Note that this is a static (class) method, there's no logger object involved. You can use this method with as many key/value pairs as you like as long as you reference them under different names.

The mappings are stored in a global hash table within Log::Log4perl. Luckily, because the thread model in 5.8.0 doesn't share global variables between threads unless they're explicitly marked as such, there's no problem with multi-threaded environments.

For more details on the MDC, please refer to "Mapped Diagnostic Context (MDC)" in Log::Log4perl and Log::Log4perl::MDC.

My application is already logging to a file. How can I duplicate all messages to also go to the screen?

Assuming that you already have a Log4perl configuration file like

    log4perl.logger                    = DEBUG, FileApp

    log4perl.appender.FileApp          = Log::Log4perl::Appender::File
    log4perl.appender.FileApp.filename = test.log
    log4perl.appender.FileApp.layout   = PatternLayout
    log4perl.appender.FileApp.layout.ConversionPattern = %d> %m%n

and log statements all over your code, it's very easy with Log4perl to have the same messages both printed to the logfile and the screen. No reason to change your code, of course, just add another appender to the configuration file and you're done:

    log4perl.logger                    = DEBUG, FileApp, ScreenApp

    log4perl.appender.FileApp          = Log::Log4perl::Appender::File
    log4perl.appender.FileApp.filename = test.log
    log4perl.appender.FileApp.layout   = PatternLayout
    log4perl.appender.FileApp.layout.ConversionPattern = %d> %m%n

    log4perl.appender.ScreenApp          = Log::Log4perl::Appender::Screen
    log4perl.appender.ScreenApp.stderr   = 0
    log4perl.appender.ScreenApp.layout   = PatternLayout
    log4perl.appender.ScreenApp.layout.ConversionPattern = %d> %m%n

The configuration file above is assuming that both appenders are active in the same logger hierarchy, in this case the root category. But even if you've got file loggers defined in several parts of your system, belonging to different logger categories, each logging to different files, you can gobble up all logged messages by defining a root logger with a screen appender, which would duplicate messages from all your file loggers to the screen due to Log4perl's appender inheritance. Check


for details. Have fun!

How can I make sure my application logs a message when it dies unexpectedly?

Whenever you encounter a fatal error in your application, instead of saying something like

    open FILE, "<blah" or die "Can't open blah -- bailing out!";

just use Log::Log4perl's fatal functions instead:

    my $log = get_logger("Some::Package");
    open FILE, "<blah" or $log->logdie("Can't open blah -- bailing out!");

This will both log the message with priority FATAL according to your current Log::Log4perl configuration and then call Perl's die() afterwards to terminate the program. It works the same with stealth loggers (see "Stealth Loggers" in Log::Log4perl), all you need to do is call

    use Log::Log4perl qw(:easy);
    open FILE, "<blah" or LOGDIE "Can't open blah -- bailing out!";

What can you do if you're using some library which doesn't use Log::Log4perl and calls die() internally if something goes wrong? Use a $SIG{__DIE__} pseudo signal handler

    use Log::Log4perl qw(get_logger);

    $SIG{__DIE__} = sub {
        my $logger = get_logger("");
        exit 1;

This will catch every die()-Exception of your application or the modules it uses. It will fetch a root logger and pass on the die()-Message to it. If you make sure you've configured with a root logger like this:

        log4perl.category         = FATAL, Logfile
        log4perl.appender.Logfile = Log::Log4perl::Appender::File
        log4perl.appender.Logfile.filename = fatal_errors.log
        log4perl.appender.Logfile.layout = \
        log4perl.appender.Logfile.layout.ConversionPattern = %F{1}-%L (%M)> %m%n

then all die() messages will be routed to a file properly. The line


in the pseudo signal handler above merits a more detailed explanation. With the setup above, if a module calls die() in one of its functions, the fatal message will be logged in the signal handler and not in the original function -- which will cause the %F, %L and %M placeholders in the pattern layout to be replaced by the filename, the line number and the function/method name of the signal handler, not the error-throwing module. To adjust this, Log::Log4perl has the $caller_depth variable, which defaults to 0, but can be set to positive integer values to offset the caller level. Increasing it by one will cause it to log the calling function's parameters, not the ones of the signal handler. See "Using Log::Log4perl from wrapper classes" in Log::Log4perl for more details.

How can I hook up the LWP library with Log::Log4perl?

Or, to put it more generally: How can you utilize a third-party library's embedded logging and debug statements in Log::Log4perl? How can you make them print to configurable appenders, turn them on and off, just as if they were regular Log::Log4perl logging statements?

The easiest solution is to map the third-party library logging statements to Log::Log4perl's stealth loggers via a typeglob assignment.

As an example, let's take LWP, one of the most popular Perl modules, which makes handling WWW requests and responses a breeze. Internally, LWP uses its own logging and debugging system, utilizing the following calls inside the LWP code (from the LWP::Debug man page):

        # Function tracing

        # High-granular state in functions
    LWP::Debug::debug('url ok');

        # Data going over the wire
    LWP::Debug::conns("read $n bytes: $data");

First, let's assign Log::Log4perl priorities to these functions: I'd suggest that debug() messages have priority INFO, trace() uses DEBUG and conns() also logs with DEBUG -- although your mileage may certainly vary.

Now, in order to transpartently hook up LWP::Debug with Log::Log4perl, all we have to do is say

    package LWP::Debug;
    use Log::Log4perl qw(:easy);

    *trace = *INFO;
    *conns = *DEBUG;
    *debug = *DEBUG;

    package main;
    # ... go on with your regular program ...

at the beginning of our program. In this way, every time the, say, LWP::UserAgent module calls LWP::Debug::trace(), it will implicitely call INFO(), which is the info() method of a stealth logger defined for the Log::Log4perl category LWP::Debug. Is this cool or what?

Here's a complete program:

    use LWP::UserAgent;
    use HTTP::Request::Common;
    use Log::Log4perl qw(:easy);

        { category => "LWP::Debug",
          level    => $DEBUG,
          layout   => "%r %p %M-%L %m%n",

    package LWP::Debug;
    use Log::Log4perl qw(:easy);
    *trace = *INFO;
    *conns = *DEBUG;
    *debug = *DEBUG;

    package main;
    my $ua = LWP::UserAgent->new();
    my $resp = $ua->request(GET "http://amazon.com");

    if($resp->is_success()) {
        print "Success: Received ", 
              length($resp->content()), "\n";
    } else {
        print "Error: ", $resp->code(), "\n";

This will generate the following output on STDERR:

    174 INFO LWP::UserAgent::new-164 ()
    208 INFO LWP::UserAgent::request-436 ()
    211 INFO LWP::UserAgent::send_request-294 GET http://amazon.com
    212 DEBUG LWP::UserAgent::_need_proxy-1123 Not proxied
    405 INFO LWP::Protocol::http::request-122 ()
    859 DEBUG LWP::Protocol::collect-206 read 233 bytes
    863 DEBUG LWP::UserAgent::request-443 Simple response: Found
    869 INFO LWP::UserAgent::request-436 ()
    871 INFO LWP::UserAgent::send_request-294 
     GET http://www.amazon.com:80/exec/obidos/gateway_redirect
    872 DEBUG LWP::UserAgent::_need_proxy-1123 Not proxied
    873 INFO LWP::Protocol::http::request-122 ()
    1016 DEBUG LWP::UserAgent::request-443 Simple response: Found
    1020 INFO LWP::UserAgent::request-436 ()
    1022 INFO LWP::UserAgent::send_request-294 
     GET http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/subst/home/home.html/
    1023 DEBUG LWP::UserAgent::_need_proxy-1123 Not proxied
    1024 INFO LWP::Protocol::http::request-122 ()
    1382 DEBUG LWP::Protocol::collect-206 read 632 bytes
    2605 DEBUG LWP::Protocol::collect-206 read 77 bytes
    2607 DEBUG LWP::UserAgent::request-443 Simple response: OK
    Success: Received 42584

Of course, in this way, the embedded logging and debug statements within LWP can be utilized in any Log::Log4perl way you can think of. You can have them sent to different appenders, block them based on the category and everything else Log::Log4perl has to offer.

Only drawback of this method: Steering logging behaviour via category is always based on the LWP::Debug package. Although the logging statements reflect the package name of the issuing module properly, the stealth loggers in LWP::Debug are all of the category LWP::Debug. This implies that you can't control the logging behaviour based on the package that's initiating a log request (e.g. LWP::UserAgent) but only based on the package that's actually executing the logging statement, LWP::Debug in this case.

To work around this conundrum, we need to write a wrapper function and plant it into the LWP::Debug package. It will determine the caller and create a logger bound to a category with the same name as the caller's package:

    package LWP::Debug;

    use Log::Log4perl qw(:levels get_logger);

    sub l4p_wrapper {
        my($prio, @message) = @_;
        $Log::Log4perl::caller_depth += 2;
        get_logger(caller(1))->log($prio, @message);
        $Log::Log4perl::caller_depth -= 2;

    no warnings 'redefine';
    *trace = sub { l4p_wrapper($INFO, @_); };
    *debug = *conns = sub { l4p_wrapper($DEBUG, @_); };

    package main;
    # ... go on with your main program ...

This is less performant than the previous approach, because every log request will request a reference to a logger first, then call the wrapper, which will in turn call the appropriate log function.

This hierarchy shift has to be compensated for by increasing $Log::Log4perl::caller_depth by 2 before calling the log function and decreasing it by 2 right afterwards. Also, the l4p_wrapper function shown above calls caller(1) which determines the name of the package two levels down the calling hierarchy (and therefore compensates for both the wrapper function and the anonymous subroutine calling it).

no warnings 'redefine' suppresses a warning Perl would generate otherwise upon redefining LWP::Debug's trace(), debug() and conns() functions. In case you use a perl prior to 5.6.x, you need to manipulate $^W instead.

What if I need dynamic values in a static Log4perl configuration file?

Say, your application uses Log::Log4perl for logging and therefore comes with a Log4perl configuration file, specifying the logging behaviour. But, you also want it to take command line parameters to set values like the name of the log file. How can you have both a static Log4perl configuration file and a dynamic command line interface?

As of Log::Log4perl 0.28, every value in the configuration file can be specified as a Perl hook. So, instead of saying

    log4perl.appender.Logfile.filename = test.log

you could just as well have a Perl subroutine deliver the value dynamically:

    log4perl.appender.Logfile.filename = sub { logfile(); };

given that logfile() is a valid function in your main package returning a string containing the path to the log file.

Or, think about using the value of an environment variable:

    log4perl.appender.DBI.user = sub { $ENV{USERNAME} };

When Log::Log4perl->init() parses the configuration file, it will notice the assignment above because of its sub {...} pattern and treat it in a special way: It will evaluate the subroutine (which can contain arbitrary Perl code) and take its return value as the right side of the assignment.

A typical application would be called like this on the command line:

    app                # log file is "test.log"
    app -l mylog.txt   # log file is "mylog.txt"

Here's some sample code implementing the command line interface above:

    use Log::Log4perl qw(get_logger);
    use Getopt::Std;

    getopt('l:', \our %OPTS);

    my $conf = q(
    log4perl.category.Bar.Twix         = WARN, Logfile
    log4perl.appender.Logfile          = Log::Log4perl::Appender::File
    log4perl.appender.Logfile.filename = sub { logfile(); };
    log4perl.appender.Logfile.layout   = SimpleLayout


    my $logger = get_logger("Bar::Twix");

    sub logfile {
        if(exists $OPTS{l}) {
            return $OPTS{l};
        } else {
            return "test.log";

Every Perl hook may contain arbitrary perl code, just make sure to fully qualify eventual variable names (e.g. %main::OPTS instead of %OPTS).

SECURITY NOTE: this feature means arbitrary perl code can be embedded in the config file. In the rare case where the people who have access to your config file are different from the people who write your code and shouldn't have execute rights, you might want to call


before you call init(). This will prevent Log::Log4perl from executing any Perl code in the config file (including code for custom conversion specifiers (see "Custom cspecs" in Log::Log4perl::Layout::PatternLayout).

How can I roll over my logfiles automatically at midnight?

Long-running applications tend to produce ever-increasing logfiles. For backup and cleanup purposes, however, it is often desirable to move the current logfile to a different location from time to time and start writing a new one.

This is a non-trivial task, because it has to happen in sync with the logging system in order not to lose any messages in the process.

Luckily, Mark Pfeiffer's Log::Dispatch::FileRotate appender works well with Log::Log4perl to rotate your logfiles in a variety of ways. All you have to do is specify it in your Log::Log4perl configuration file and your logfiles will be rotated automatically.

You can choose between rolling based on a maximum size ("roll if greater than 10 MB") or based on a date pattern ("roll everyday at midnight"). In both cases, Log::Dispatch::FileRotate allows you to define a number max of saved files to keep around until it starts overwriting the oldest ones. If you set the max parameter to 2 and the name of your logfile is test.log, Log::Dispatch::FileRotate will move test.log to test.log.1 on the first rollover. On the second rollover, it will move test.log.1 to test.log.2 and then test.log to test.log.1. On the third rollover, it will move test.log.1 to test.log.2 (therefore discarding the old test.log.2) and test.log to test.log.1. And so forth. This way, there's always going to be a maximum of 2 saved log files around.

Here's an example of a Log::Log4perl configuration file, defining a daily rollover at midnight (date pattern yyyy-MM-dd), keeping a maximum of 5 saved logfiles around:

    log4perl.category         = WARN, Logfile
    log4perl.appender.Logfile = Log::Dispatch::FileRotate
    log4perl.appender.Logfile.filename    = test.log
    log4perl.appender.Logfile.max         = 5
    log4perl.appender.Logfile.DatePattern = yyyy-MM-dd
    log4perl.appender.Logfile.TZ          = PST
    log4perl.appender.Logfile.layout = \
    log4perl.appender.Logfile.layout.ConversionPattern = %d %m %n 

Please see the Log::Dispatch::FileRotate documentation for details. Log::Dispatch::FileRotate is available on CPAN.

What's the easiest way to turn off all logging, even with a lengthy Log4perl configuration file?

In addition to category-based levels and appender thresholds, Log::Log4perl supports system-wide logging thresholds. This is the minimum level the system will require of any logging events in order for them to make it through to any configured appenders.

For example, putting the line

    log4perl.threshold = ERROR

anywhere in your configuration file will limit any output to any appender to events with priority of ERROR or higher (ERROR or FATAL that is).

However, in order to suppress all logging entirely, you need to use a priority that's higher than FATAL: It is simply called OFF, and it is never used by any logger. By definition, it is higher than the highest defined logger level.

Therefore, if you keep the line

    log4perl.threshold = OFF

somewhere in your Log::Log4perl configuration, the system will be quiet as a graveyard. If you deactivate the line (e.g. by commenting it out), the system will, upon config reload, snap back to normal operation, providing logging messages according to the rest of the configuration file again.

I keep getting duplicate log messages! What's wrong?

Having several settings for related categories in the Log4perl configuration file sometimes leads to a phenomenon called "message duplication". It can be very confusing at first, but if thought through properly, it turns out that Log4perl behaves as advertised. But, don't despair, of course there's a number of ways to avoid message duplication in your logs.

Here's a sample Log4perl configuration file that produces the phenomenon:

    log4perl.logger.Cat        = ERROR, Screen
    log4perl.logger.Cat.Subcat = WARN, Screen

    log4perl.appender.Screen   = Log::Log4perl::Appender::Screen
    log4perl.appender.Screen.layout = SimpleLayout

It defines two loggers, one for category Cat and one for Cat::Subcat, which is obviously a subcategory of Cat. The parent logger has a priority setting of ERROR, the child is set to the lower WARN level.

Now imagine the following code in your program:

    my $logger = get_logger("Cat.Subcat");

What do you think will happen? An unexperienced Log4perl user might think: "Well, the message is being sent with level WARN, so the Cat::Subcat logger will accept it and forward it to the attached Screen appender. Then, the message will percolate up the logger hierarchy, find the Cat logger, which will suppress the message because of its ERROR setting." But, perhaps surprisingly, what you'll get with the code snippet above is not one but two log messages written to the screen:

    WARN - Warning!
    WARN - Warning!

What happened? The culprit is that once the logger Cat::Subcat decides to fire, it will forward the message unconditionally to all directly or indirectly attached appenders. The Cat logger will never be asked if it wants the message or not -- the message will just be pushed through to the appender attached to Cat.

One way to prevent the message from bubbling up the logger hierarchy is to set the additivity flag of the subordinate logger to 0:

    log4perl.logger.Cat            = ERROR, Screen
    log4perl.logger.Cat.Subcat     = WARN, Screen
    log4perl.additivity.Cat.Subcat = 0

    log4perl.appender.Screen   = Log::Log4perl::Appender::Screen
    log4perl.appender.Screen.layout = SimpleLayout

The message will now be accepted by the Cat::Subcat logger, forwarded to its appender, but then Cat::Subcat will suppress any further action. While this setting avoids duplicate messages as seen before, it is often not the desired behaviour. Messages percolating up the hierarchy are a useful Log4perl feature.

If you're defining different appenders for the two loggers, one other option is to define an appender threshold for the higher-level appender. Typically it is set to be equal to the logger's level setting:

    log4perl.logger.Cat           = ERROR, Screen1
    log4perl.logger.Cat.Subcat    = WARN, Screen2

    log4perl.appender.Screen1   = Log::Log4perl::Appender::Screen
    log4perl.appender.Screen1.layout = SimpleLayout
    log4perl.appender.Screen1.Threshold = ERROR

    log4perl.appender.Screen2   = Log::Log4perl::Appender::Screen
    log4perl.appender.Screen2.layout = SimpleLayout

Since the Screen1 appender now blocks every message with a priority less than ERROR, even if the logger in charge lets it through, the message percolating up the hierarchy is being blocked at the last minute and not appended to Screen1.

So far, we've been operating well within the boundaries of the Log4j standard, which Log4perl adheres to. However, if you would really, really like to use a single appender and keep the message percolation intact without having to deal with message duplication, there's a non-standard solution for you:

    log4perl.logger.Cat        = ERROR, Screen
    log4perl.logger.Cat.Subcat = WARN, Screen

    log4perl.appender.Screen   = Log::Log4perl::Appender::Screen
    log4perl.appender.Screen.layout = SimpleLayout

    log4perl.oneMessagePerAppender = 1

The oneMessagePerAppender flag will suppress duplicate messages to the same appender. Again, that's non-standard. But way cool :).

How can I configure Log::Log4perl to send me email if something happens?

Some incidents require immediate action. You can't wait until someone checks the log files, you need to get notified on your pager right away.

The easiest way to do that is by using the Log::Dispatch::Email::MailSend module as an appender. It comes with the Log::Dispatch bundle and allows you to specify recipient and subject of outgoing emails in the Log4perl configuration file:

    log4perl.category = FATAL, Mailer
    log4perl.appender.Mailer         = Log::Dispatch::Email::MailSend
    log4perl.appender.Mailer.to      = drone@pageme.net
    log4perl.appender.Mailer.subject = Something's broken!
    log4perl.appender.Mailer.layout  = SimpleLayout

The message of every log incident this appender gets will then be forwarded to the given email address. Check the Log::Dispatch::Email::MailSend documentation for details. And please make sure there's not a flood of email messages sent out by your application, filling up the receipient's inbox.

How can I write my own appender?

First off, Log::Log4perl comes with a set of standard appenders. Then, there's a lot of Log4perl-compatible appenders already available on CPAN: Just run a search for Log::Dispatch on http://search.cpan.org and chances are that what you're looking for has already been developed, debugged and been used successfully in production -- no need for you to reinvent the wheel.

Also, Log::Log4perl ships with a nifty database appender named Log::Log4perl::Appender::DBI -- check it out if talking to databases is your desire.

But if you're up for a truly exotic task, you might have to write an appender yourself. That's very easy -- it takes no longer than a couple of minutes.

Say, we wanted to create an appender of the class ColorScreenAppender, which logs messages to the screen in a configurable color. Just create a new class in ColorScreenAppender.pm:

    package ColorScreen;

Now let's assume that your Log::Log4perl configuration file test.conf looks like this:

    log4perl.logger = INFO, ColorApp


    log4perl.appender.ColorApp.layout = PatternLayout
    log4perl.appender.ColorApp.layout.ConversionPattern=%d %m %n

This will cause Log::Log4perl on init() to look for a class ColorScreenAppender and call its constructor new(). Let's add new() to ColorScreenAppender.pm:

    sub new {
        my($class, %options) = @_;
        my $self = { %options };
        bless $self, $class;
        return $self;

To initialize this appender, Log::Log4perl will call and pass all attributes of the appender as defined in the configuration file to the constructor as name/value pairs (in this case just one):

    ColorScreenAppender->new(color => "blue");

The new() method listed above stores the contents of the %options hash in the object's instance data hash (referred to by $self). That's all for initializing a new appender with Log::Log4perl.

Second, ColorScreenAppender needs to expose a log() method, which will be called by Log::Log4perl every time it thinks the appender should fire. Along with the object reference (as usual in Perl's object world), log() will receive a list of name/value pairs, of which only the one under the key message shall be of interest for now since it is the message string to be logged. At this point, Log::Log4perl has already taken care of joining the message to be a single string.

For our special appender ColorScreenAppender, we're using the Term::ANSIColor module to colorize the output:

    use Term::ANSIColor;

    sub log {
        my($self, %params) = @_;
        print colored($params{message},

The color (as configured in the Log::Log4perl configuration file) is available as $self->{color} in the appender object. Don't forget to return


at the end of ColorScreenAppender.pm and you're done. Install the new appender somewhere where perl can find it and try it with a test script like

    use Log::Log4perl qw(:easy);

to see the new colored output. Is this cool or what?

How can I drill down on references before logging them?

If you've got a reference to a nested structure or object, then you probably don't want to log it as HASH(0x81141d4) but rather dump it as something like

    $VAR1 = {
              'a' => 'b',
              'd' => 'e'

via a module like Data::Dumper. While it's syntactically correct to say


this call imposes a huge performance penalty on your application if the message is suppressed by Log::Log4perl, because Data::Dumper will perform its expensive operations in any case, because it doesn't know that its output will be thrown away immediately.

As of Log::Log4perl 0.28, there's a better way: Use the message output filter format as in

    $logger->debug( {filter => \&Data::Dumper::Dumper,
                     value  => $ref} );

and Log::Log4perl won't call the filter function unless the message really gets written out to an appender. Just make sure to pass the whole slew as a reference to a hash specifying a filter function (as a sub reference) under the key filter and the value to be passed to the filter function in value). When it comes to logging, Log::Log4perl will call the filter function, pass the value as an argument and log the return value. Saves you serious cycles.

How can I collect all FATAL messages in an extra log file?

Suppose you have employed Log4perl all over your system and you've already activated logging in various subsystems. On top of that, without disrupting any other settings, how can you collect all FATAL messages all over the system and send them to a separate log file?

If you define a root logger like this:

    log4perl.logger                  = FATAL, File
    log4perl.appender.File           = Log::Log4perl::Appender::File
    log4perl.appender.File.filename  = /tmp/fatal.txt
    log4perl.appender.File.layout    = PatternLayout
    log4perl.appender.File.layout.ConversionPattern= %d %m %n
        # !!! Something's missing ...

you'll be surprised to not only receive all FATAL messages issued anywhere in the system, but also everything else -- gazillions of ERROR, WARN, INFO and even DEBUG messages will end up in your fatal.txt logfile! Reason for this is Log4perl's (or better: Log4j's) appender additivity. Once a lower-level logger decides to fire, the message is going to be forwarded to all appenders upstream -- without further priority checks with their attached loggers.

There's a way to prevent this, however: If your appender defines a minimum threshold, only messages of this priority or higher are going to be logged. So, just add

    log4perl.appender.File.Threshold = FATAL 

to the configuration above, and you'll get what you wanted in the first place: An overall system FATAL message collector.

How can I bundle several log messages into one?

Would you like to tally the messages arriving at your appender and dump out a summary once they're exceeding a certain threshold? So that something like


won't be logged as


but as

    [3] Blah

instead? If you'd like to hold off on logging a message until it has been sent a couple of times, you can roll that out by creating a buffered appender.

Let's define a new appender like

    package TallyAppender;

    sub new {
        my($class, %options) = @_;
        my $self = { maxcount => 5,
        bless $self, $class;
        $self->{last_message}        = "";
        $self->{last_message_count}  = 0;
        return $self;

with two additional instance variables last_message and last_message_count, storing the content of the last message sent and a counter of how many times this has happened. Also, it features a configuration parameter maxcount which defaults to 5 in the snippet above but can be set in the Log4perl configuration file like this:

    log4perl.logger = INFO, A
    log4perl.appender.A.maxcount = 3

The main tallying logic lies in the appender's log method, which is called every time Log4perl thinks a message needs to get logged by our appender:

    sub log {
        my($self, %params) = @_;

            # Message changed? Print buffer.
        if($self->{last_message} and
           $params{message} ne $self->{last_message}) {
            print "[$self->{last_message_count}]: " .
            $self->{last_message_count} = 1;
            $self->{last_message} = $params{message};

        $self->{last_message} = $params{message};

            # Threshold exceeded? Print, reset counter
        if($self->{last_message_count} >= 
           $self->{maxcount}) {
            print "[$self->{last_message_count}]: " .
            $self->{last_message_count} = 0;
            $self->{last_message}       = "";

We basically just check if the oncoming message in $param{message} is equal to what we've saved before in the last_message instance variable. If so, we're increasing last_message_count. We print the message in two cases: If the new message is different than the buffered one, because then we need to dump the old stuff and store the new. Or, if the counter exceeds the threshold, as defined by the maxcount configuration parameter.

Please note that the appender always gets the fully rendered message and just compares it as a whole -- so if there's a date/timestamp in there, that might confuse your logic. You can work around this by specifying %m %n as a layout and add the date later on in the appender. Or, make the comparison smart enough to omit the date.

At last, don't forget what happens if the program is being shut down. If there's still messages in the buffer, they should be printed out at that point. That's easy to do in the appender's DESTROY method, which gets called at object destruction time:

    sub DESTROY {
        my($self) = @_;

        if($self->{last_message_count}) {
            print "[$self->{last_message_count}]: " .

This will ensure that none of the buffered messages are lost. Happy buffering!

I want to log ERROR and WARN messages to different files! How can I do that?

Let's assume you wanted to have each logging statement written to a different file, based on the statement's priority. Messages with priority WARN are supposed to go to /tmp/app.warn, events prioritized as ERROR should end up in /tmp/app.error.

Now, if you define two appenders AppWarn and AppError and assign them both to the root logger, messages bubbling up from any loggers below will be logged by both appenders because of Log4perl's message propagation feature. If you limit their exposure via the appender threshold mechanism and set AppWarn's threshold to WARN and AppError's to ERROR, you'll still get ERROR messages in AppWarn, because AppWarn's WARN setting will just filter out messages with a lower priority than WARN -- ERROR is higher and will be allowed to pass through.

What we need for this is a Log4perl Custom Filter, available with Log::Log4perl 0.30.

Both appenders need to verify that the priority of the oncoming messages exactly matches the priority the appender is supposed to log messages of. To accomplish this task, let's define two custom filters, MatchError and MatchWarn, which, when attached to their appenders, will limit messages passed on to them to those matching a given priority:

    log4perl.logger = WARN, AppWarn, AppError

        # Filter to match level ERROR
    log4perl.filter.MatchError = Log::Log4perl::Filter::LevelMatch
    log4perl.filter.MatchError.LevelToMatch  = ERROR
    log4perl.filter.MatchError.AcceptOnMatch = true

        # Filter to match level WARN
    log4perl.filter.MatchWarn  = Log::Log4perl::Filter::LevelMatch
    log4perl.filter.MatchWarn.LevelToMatch  = WARN
    log4perl.filter.MatchWarn.AcceptOnMatch = true

        # Error appender
    log4perl.appender.AppError = Log::Log4perl::Appender::File
    log4perl.appender.AppError.filename = /tmp/app.err
    log4perl.appender.AppError.layout   = SimpleLayout
    log4perl.appender.AppError.Filter   = MatchError

        # Warning appender
    log4perl.appender.AppWarn = Log::Log4perl::Appender::File
    log4perl.appender.AppWarn.filename = /tmp/app.warn
    log4perl.appender.AppWarn.layout   = SimpleLayout
    log4perl.appender.AppWarn.Filter   = MatchWarn

The appenders AppWarn and AppError defined above are logging to /tmp/app.warn and /tmp/app.err respectively and have the custom filters MatchWarn and MatchError attached. This setup will direct all WARN messages, issued anywhere in the system, to /tmp/app.warn (and ERROR messages to /tmp/app.error) -- without any overlaps.

On our server farm, Log::Log4perl configuration files differ slightly from host to host. Can I roll them all into one?

You sure can, because Log::Log4perl allows you to specify attribute values dynamically. Let's say that one of your appenders expects the host's IP address as one of its attributes. Now, you could certainly roll out different configuration files for every host and specify the value like

    log4perl.appender.MyAppender    = Log::Log4perl::Appender::SomeAppender
    log4perl.appender.MyAppender.ip =

but that's a maintenance nightmare. Instead, you can have Log::Log4perl figure out the IP address at configuration time and set the appender's value correctly:

        # Set the IP address dynamically
    log4perl.appender.MyAppender    = Log::Log4perl::Appender::SomeAppender
    log4perl.appender.MyAppender.ip = sub { \
       use Sys::Hostname; \
       use Socket; \
       return inet_ntoa(scalar gethostbyname hostname); \

If Log::Log4perl detects that an attribute value starts with something like "sub {...", it will interpret it as a perl subroutine which is to be executed once at configuration time (not runtime!) and its return value is to be used as the attribute value. This comes in handy for rolling out applications whichs Log::Log4perl configuration files show small host-specific differences, because you can deploy the unmodified application distribution on all instances of the server farm.

Log4perl doesn't interpret my backslashes correctly!

If you're using Log4perl's feature to specify the configuration as a string in your program (as opposed to a separate configuration file), chances are that you've written it like this:

    # *** WRONG! ***

    Log::Log4perl->init( \ <<END_HERE);
        log4perl.logger = WARN, A1
        log4perl.appender.A1 = Log::Log4perl::Appender::Screen
        log4perl.appender.A1.layout = \
        log4perl.appender.A1.layout.ConversionPattern = %m%n

    # *** WRONG! ***

and you're getting the following error message:

    Layout not specified for appender A1 at .../Config.pm line 342.

What's wrong? The problem is that you're using a here-document with substitution enabled (<<END_HERE) and that Perl won't interpret backslashes at line-ends as continuation characters but will essentially throw them out. So, in the code above, the layout line will look like

    log4perl.appender.A1.layout =

to Log::Log4perl which causes it to report an error. To interpret the backslash at the end of the line correctly as a line-continuation character, use the non-interpreting mode of the here-document like in

    # *** RIGHT! ***

    Log::Log4perl->init( \ <<'END_HERE');
        log4perl.logger = WARN, A1
        log4perl.appender.A1 = Log::Log4perl::Appender::Screen
        log4perl.appender.A1.layout = \
        log4perl.appender.A1.layout.ConversionPattern = %m%n

    # *** RIGHT! ***

(note the single quotes around 'END_HERE') or use q{...} instead of a here-document and Perl will treat the backslashes at line-end as intended.

I want to suppress certain messages based on their content!

Let's assume you've plastered all your functions with Log4perl statements like

    sub some_func {

        INFO("Begin of function");

        # ... Stuff happens here ...

        INFO("End of function");

to issue two log messages, one at the beginning and one at the end of each function. Now you want to suppress the message at the beginning and only keep the one at the end, what can you do? You can't use the category mechanism, because both messages are issued from the same package.

Log::Log4perl's custom filters (0.30 or better) provide an interface for the Log4perl user to step in right before a message gets logged and decide if it should be written out or suppressed, based on the message content or other parameters:

    use Log::Log4perl qw(:easy);
    Log::Log4perl::init( \ <<'EOT' );
        log4perl.logger             = INFO, A1
        log4perl.appender.A1        = Log::Log4perl::Appender::Screen
        log4perl.appender.A1.layout = \
        log4perl.appender.A1.layout.ConversionPattern = %m%n
        log4perl.filter.M1 = Log::Log4perl::Filter::StringMatch
        log4perl.filter.M1.StringToMatch = Begin
        log4perl.filter.M1.AcceptOnMatch = false
        log4perl.appender.A1.Filter = M1

The last four statements in the configuration above are defining a custom filter M1 of type Log::Log4perl::Filter::StringMatch, which comes with Log4perl right out of the box and allows you to define a text pattern to match (as a perl regular expression) and a flag AcceptOnMatch indicating if a match is supposed to suppress the message or let it pass through.

The last line then assigns this filter to the A1 appender, which will call it every time it receives a message to be logged and throw all messages out not matching the regular expression Begin.

Instead of using the standard Log::Log4perl::Filter::StringMatch filter, you can define your own, simply using a perl subroutine:

    log4perl.filter.ExcludeBegin  = sub { !/Begin/ }
    log4perl.appender.A1.Filter   = ExcludeBegin

For details on custom filters, check Log::Log4perl::Filter.

My new module uses Log4perl -- but what happens if the calling program didn't configure it?

If a Perl module uses Log::Log4perl, it will typically rely on the calling program to initialize it. If it is using Log::Log4perl in :easy mode, like in

    package MyMod;
    use Log::Log4perl qw(:easy);

    sub foo {
        DEBUG("In foo");

and the calling program doesn't initialize Log::Log4perl at all (e.g. because it has no clue that it's available), Log::Log4perl will silently ignore all logging messages. However, if the module is using Log::Log4perl in regular mode like in

    package MyMod;
    use Log::Log4perl qw(get_logger);

    sub foo {
        my $logger = get_logger("");


and the main program is just using the module like in

    use MyMode;

then Log::Log4perl will also ignore all logging messages but issue a warning like

    Log4perl: Seems like no initialization happened. 
    Forgot to call init()?

(only once!) to remind novice users to not forget to initialize the logging system before using it. However, if you want to suppress this message, just add the :nowarn target to the module's use Log::Log4perl call:

    use Log::Log4perl qw(get_logger :nowarn);

This will have Log::Log4perl silently ignore all logging statements if no initialization has taken place.

If the module wants to figure out if some other program part has already initialized Log::Log4perl, it can do so by calling


which will return a true value in case Log::Log4perl has been initialized and a false value if not.




Mike Schilli, <log4perl@perlmeister.com>