How Custom Parsing Can Boost Developer Productivity

Learning objectives
  • Learn more about the benefits of custom log parsing
  • Understand how to better extract relevant data from your logs

As site reliability engineers (SREs), we need the right tools to enable developers to succeed. We want to work in harmony with developers, even if developers feel that we saddle them with extra work. LogDNA can help bring together operations and development by centralizing logs in one place. Developers often find themselves dealing with extensive processes to access the logs needed to do their jobs. Adopting a log management solution that both development teams and operations teams use as a single source of truth ensures that teams have the necessary information to streamline troubleshooting and debugging workflows. 

 

However, centralizing logs into a single platform is not enough—they need to be easy to understand and take action on. Whether we are dealing with nonstandard formats, text-based logs, or accidentally broken structures, unparsed logs can appear to be impossible to work with. LogDNA’s proprietary message bus ensures incoming logs are automatically indexed and parsed, with automatic parsing for standard log formats and custom parsing templates for everything else. LogDNA makes structured and unstructured logs easier to understand for both developers and SREs.


Most languages and platforms use popular logging frameworks that ensure that logs are relatively standardized. From platforms like AWS and Heroku to languages like Golang and Ruby, log data will automatically be parsed upon ingestion without needing any additional configuration. These parsed fields become instantly actionable and can be used to search, filter, visualize, and view logs in real time. LogDNA further empowers us with boards, graphs, alerts, and custom dashboards.
 

Integrating LogDNA into an application provides near-instant access to all the features it has to offer. For those exceptional cases that don’t match standard logging formats, it’s simple to add custom parsing. 

Custom Log Parsing

SREs and IT Ops professionals can easily configure custom parsing templates through LogDNA to extract value out of any log line. Getting logs to meet a specific standardized format is often not a trivial or quick task. Engineers are usually faced with two options:

  1. Submit a task into the developer’s queue to refactor the logs from the application with an unknown turnaround time.
  2. In some particular cases, they have the possibility of writing complex regular expressions in an attempt to get some value out of the loglines.

LogDNA takes a different approach. We know developers want to focus on feature development and not technical debt so we’ve given the operational side of the house a  GUI-driven way to quickly create custom parsers for any logline based on any given query.

To begin a template, we must either enter a sample line or select one from previous logs processed by the platform. Using a sample line from a log as a reference, we can then visually construct parsing rules with given operators. We can extract values by or in-between delimiters, much like regular expressions. Regular expressions are complicated to write and inefficient to run, let alone frustrating to learn for developers of any experience. LogDNA’s straightforward custom parsing tool helps us deliver the best data to development teams faster.

Extracting Relevant Data

Custom parsing ensures that value can be extracted from all data, structured or not. Once parsed, fields can be utilized to ensure data fidelity and visibility throughout all environments and teams.. With organized and accessible application data, it’s easier to spot trends or troubling issues as they occur rather than months later. With LogDNA, when problems arise devs can quickly find the root cause and deploy a fix.


For example, MANTL, a company that modernizes bank account opening, has seen custom parsing pay dividends in their implementation. To streamline their operations, they decided to standardize their logs and shift focus to JSON-based logging. To their dismay, most logging providers didn’t support this format and their custom needs were causing more headaches than the logs were providing information. They started using LogDNA and instantly saw the value of automatic and custom parsing. Now, every engineer at MANTL can easily access their application data and make sense of it. This has empowered their team to iterate quickly with more confidence and less frustration, giving them a massive competitive edge.

Conclusion

LogDNA can supercharge the DevOps workflow. We understand that data comes in all shapes and forms, and sometimes manipulating that data is out of your immediate control. LogDNA saves you time by automatically parsing most major log types out of the box, and gives your Ops teams the flexibility to quickly and intuitively extract value out of any non-standard formats. 

Already using LogDNA and want to get more out of your experience? Reach out to our Solutions Engineering team at sales-eng@logdna.com. 
Still searching for an intuitive log management solution? Start your fully-featured 14-day free trial of LogDNA today.

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