An Exploration of the challenges associated with software logging in large systems

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Kabinna, Suhas
Logging, Logging library migration
Over the past few years, logging has evolved from from simple printf statements to more complex and widely used logging libraries. Today logging information is used to support various development activities such as fixing bugs, analyzing the results of load tests, monitoring performance and transferring knowledge. Recent research has examined how to improve logging practices by informing developers what to log and where to log. Furthermore, the strong dependence on logging has led to the development of logging libraries that have reduced the intricacies of logging, which has resulted in an abundance of log information. Two recent challenges have emerged as modern software systems start to treat logging as a core aspect of their software. In particular, 1) infrastructural challenges have emerged due to the plethora of logging libraries available today and 2) processing challenges have emerged due to the large number of log processing tools that ingest logs and produce useful information from them. In this thesis, we explore these two challenges. We first explore the infrastructural challenges that arise due to the plethora of logging libraries available today. As systems evolve, their logging infrastructure has to evolve (commonly this is done by migrating to new logging libraries). We explore logging library migrations within Apache Software Foundation (ASF) projects. We i find that close to 14% of the pro jects within the ASF migrate their logging libraries at least once. For processing challenges, we explore the different factors which can affect the likelihood of a logging statement changing in the future in four open source systems namely ActiveMQ, Camel, Cloudstack and Liferay. Such changes are likely to negatively impact the log processing tools that must be updated to accommodate such changes. We find that 20%-45% of the logging statements within the four systems are changed at least once. We construct random forest classifiers and Cox models to determine the likelihood of both just-introduced and long-lived logging statements changing in the future. We find that file ownership, developer experience, log density and SLOC are important factors in determining the stability of logging statements.
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