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From: Gennadiy Rozental (gennadiy.rozental_at_[hidden])
Date: 2005-11-12 17:45:37


Being the author of at least 3 different solution for logging/tracing
myself, I do believe it's one of the most important general purpose library
in big project development. Unfortunately proposed submission in no way came
close to being an acceptable choice. Numerous design and implementation
issues, weak user and absent reference documentation and absent test suite
(last two points is something that review manager is responsible for IMO. No
tests or docs - no review. That's it) result in: My vote is NO. Please read
further for detailed analysis.

I. Design Flaws

1. Filtering support
I understand that author strived to minimize the solution, but IMO it lead
to minimal value. IMO proper log system should support arbitrary user
defined filtering of log entries. At the bare minimum it should support:

entry level - levels set is ordered set of values indication importance of
information provided. Filtering is based on threshold. Examples: DEBUG,

entry category - categories set is a set of unique values indicating kind of
information provided
Filtering is based on masking. Examples: ARGS, RETURN_VALUE, ERROR_LOG,

entry keyword - keyword set is set of user defined keywords (most frequently
strings) identifying area of the program. Filtering is based on match of
keywords. Keywords usually are used to mark specific part of application.
Example: "NetworkLevel", "UI", "ABC" to mark class abc, "dfg.cpp"

Also multithreaded application should support filtering based on thread id.

The best solution would allow to plug-in at compile time any user defined
Filter (in a form of Policy). This way I could have a log that filter
nothing (no filters defined) or log that filter based on time of the day if
I want.
  This submission does support level filtering - and that's it.

2. Configuration support
Submitted solution supports configuration in a form of arbitrary modifiers
that user could register in log. While this looks like very inflexible it's
also as very inconvenient. In most cases I prefer log to be configured at
run time from within configuration file. his would be very cumbersome with
modifiers model. Not only each modifier needs to be added separately. I also
need to keep track of it's name to be able to remove it and it's index to
know how modifiers are ordered. This ability to configure log remotely in
many locations makes it impossible to really know what and how is written
into log.
   My preferred way to configure the log is with use of configuration
string. First of all it's simplify an interface and you immediately see how
your log entries going to look like. Here is an example:
value,-details;l=debug;track=on;roll=10000;prefix=file ( line ) - time

Using pluggable factory pattern you could implement this to be as flexible.
Eventually as an add-on you could provide an ability to register any custom
modifiers, but that is not necessary in first draft.

3. Per output configuration.
Log may have multiple appenders attached (BTW - I very much prefer term used
by iostreams library - sink). what if I want different entry
formatting/prefixing/filtering in different outputs. I may have
errors_output which contains only errors. I may have end_user_log that
contains only major information for end user with detailed time and date of
the entry. And I may have developer_output that contains performance
warnings with file and line information. Submitted library have no support
for this.

4. Internationalization support
I do see some vague traces in code that indicate that author new this needs
to be supported. But since documentation have exactly zero information and I
couldn't figure out how to do it myself, I assume that library doesn't
support this. IMO it's required for industrial strength solution.

5. File and line
This solution completely ignores file and line number of trace entry. IMO
They are essential and should be collected for every entry (may not be
reported - depends on prefix format)

6. Misfeature: pre-init cashing
Library starts with cashing turned on to support pre-init logging. IMO this
is too dangerous. Now developer needs to remember how many log entries are
printed. Otherwise some of them will just start disappearing (could be
different in every run). And it may start happening only at the user site.
Much more reliable solution is to use some kind of startup log that does not
require configuration.

7. Misfeature: log hierarchies
I personally never have a need for that and have some difficulties to
imagine why would anyone have. You could probably have it on top of existent
solution as add-on. If it doesn't require any new interfaces (or some
minimal addition). IMO library pays way to much attention to this. All these
manipulate_logs(...) by name that is analyzed not needed. In my experience I
never wonted to configure more than one log identically. And it's much more
preferable to keep all the configuration of one log in one place. So I
wouldn't look around to see what and how was configured.

8. Misfeature: compile-time log support
As it clear from above IMO log is (almost) never always enabled (and in any
case there is a way to implement this without any additional support). And
always disabled log could be implemented on macro level. Based on this I
believe all the compile_tile machinery employed by library is unnecessary
and just complicate implementation

9. Interface
IMO primary interface advertised by library should be macro-less.
Documentation does need to cover how these macros needs to be written, but
with user defined filters user will need to do the job oneself. Also in my
experience I found that on some systems Even if( ... ) <actual log here>
could be unsatisfactory from performance standpoint. I employ one global
Boolean is_log_on flag to guard all my log entries. and it should be a part
of these macros

10. Performance.
I am not sure wheather it's design or implementation issue, but library does
a lot of premature pessimizations, which could be avoided. See in more
details bellow.

II. Implementation flaws

1. File appender hierarchy
To implement custom rolling library employs inheritance. This is clear
example where delegation would be much better choice. Single file_sink that
could be initialized with file_roller.

2. Multithreading support implementation
  a) For some unclear reason author chose to reimplement some of
Boost.Threads functionality in some places (and in some places Boost.Thread
is used always). I believe log library shouldn't do this.
   b) I noticed some fishy construct (m_destroyed data member). It opens
some thread safety issues IMO.
   c) static manager_type & manager() doesn't look thread safe.

3 . enabled_logger::m_stream
For some reason enabled_logger allocates m_stream dynamically for each log
entry. I do not see why we need to do this. Even more: why not reuse a
single instance per thread?

4. collection in use
appender_array and modifier_array are better be implemented using lists

5. exception support

try {
    LOG << "aaa" << foo()
catch(...) {
    LOG << "exception"

This construct doesn't seems generate what is expected if foo() throws an

5. appender_array
appender_array seems to be defined in 2 placed

6. Appenders copying.
>From code it seems that each logger has its own copy of each appender. Why
would we need that?
If we do why all the appenders are so heavy?

7. #ifdef UNICODE
#ifdef UNICODE are spread all over the code. It needs to be centralized

8. shared_memory.hpp
This header refer to the library that is not part of boost yet. I don't
think it should be part of this submission.

9. Time string cashing
prepend_time and prepend_time_strf calls are not cashed. It's a lot of work
for nothing.

10. write_msg locking
write_msg shouldn't lock on appenders writing. Each appender should be
locked independently instead.

Documentation is better be commented by somebody else. I thing though : no
reference docs whatsoever. As well as no test suite.

Hope my comments were constructive.



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