Migrate logging to second-generation Java runtimes

Some aspects of logging in the second-generation runtimes (Java 11+) are different from the first-generation runtime (Java 8). Unlike the first-generation runtime, in the second-generation runtimes, app logs are not grouped under request logs within the Logs Explorer. Additionally, in the second-generation runtimes, App Engine writes each app log associated with a request as a separate log entry in Cloud Logging.

This guide describes how you can implement the same logging methods you used in your first-generation runtime apps, and achieve nearly the same filtering and logging correlation results when migrating your app to Java 11+.

Key differences

The following table covers differences in logging between first- and second-generation runtimes:

First-generation runtime (Java 8) Second-generation runtimes (Java 11+)
Request and app logs (also called application logs) App Engine embeds all app logs within the request log. App Engine doesn't embed app logs within the request log.
stdout and stderr App Engine embeds logs written to stdout and stderr within the request log. App Engine doesn't embed logs written to stdout and stderr.
App Engine platform logs App Engine doesn't emit internal platform logs. App Engine emits internal platform logs during startup or shutdown of an instance with the log name /var/log/google_init.log.
Cloud Logging API quota Each request corresponds to one Cloud Logging write. Each app log entry associated with a request corresponds to one Cloud Logging write. The Cloud Logging API usage increases in the second-generation runtimes.

Request logs and app logs

The logging behavior in first-generation and second-generation runtimes differ in the following ways:

  • In the first-generation runtime, App Engine embeds app logs in the protoPayload.line field of the request logs. You can view app logs by expanding a request in the Logs Explorer.

    The following image shows correlated request and app logs in the first-generation runtime:

    Correlated logs in Java 8

  • In the second-generation runtimes, request logs don't contain app log entries because the protoPayload.line field is absent in the request log. Instead, App Engine logs each app log as a separate entry. The log name depends on your logging setup. var/log/app contains logs emitted using standard logging frameworks such as, java.util.logging or the Simple Logging Facade for Java (SLF4J). The stderr and stdout logs contain app logs that are logged using System.err.print() or System.out.print().

    The following image shows separate request and app logs in the second-generation runtimes:

    Separate logs in Java 11

stdout and stderr

In the first-generation runtime, App Engine considers logs emitted to stdout and stderr as app logs, and automatically groups these app log entries under the associated request log.

In the second-generation runtimes, App Engine doesn't correlate logs emitted to stdout and stderr by default. To group app log entities with the request log using stdout and stderr, follow the instructions in Write structured logs to stdout and stderr.

We don't recommend logging to stdout and stderr since certain App Engine platform logs (JVM, Jetty, internal infrastructure logs) are also emitted to stderr. App logs and platform logs appear together with the stderr log name, which causes ambiguity. This is exaggerated in second-generation runtimes since App Engine has a higher volume of platform logs.

App Engine platform logs

In the first-generation runtime, App Engine doesn't emit platform logs.

In the second generation runtimes, App Engine emits platform logs during instance startup or shutdown with the log name /var/log/google_init.log.

You can safely ignore the platform logs. To avoid seeing these logs, add a filter to the Logs Explorer with the query logName="/var/log/google_init.log".

The following image displays platform logs in the second-generation runtimes:

Platform logs

Cloud Logging API quota

In the first-generation runtime, App Engine embeds all the app logs emitted during a request into a single request log, and sends the embedded request to Cloud Logging. Each request corresponds to one Cloud Logging write.

In the second-generation runtimes, App Engine sends each app log to Cloud Logging in separate log entries, causing an increase in the total number of Cloud Logging writes per request.

Google Cloud determines billing based on the overall storage that Cloud Logging uses. Even if the overall storage required for logs don't increase significantly, the writes per minute increase, depending on how many app logs App Engine writes per request. If your app exceeds the Cloud Logging write quota, you can request an increase in your usage quota.

For more information, see pricing for Cloud Logging.

Overview of the migration process

Even if app logs aren't embedded within the request logs in the second-generation runtimes, it is possible to retain the log viewing experience like the first-generation apps.

You can choose one of the following options for setting up logging in the second-generation runtimes:

Use the java.util.logging (JUL) package

If your apps using the first-generation runtime implement the java.util.logging package for all the logging requirements, migrating to second-generation runtimes require no code changes.

The following sample shows how you can use the java.util.logging package for logging in the second-generation runtimes:

    package com.example.appengine.my_app;
    import java.io.IOException;
    import javax.servlet.annotation.WebServlet;
    import javax.servlet.http.*;
    import java.util.logging.Logger;

    @WebServlet(name = "HelloAppEngine", value = "/")
    public class HelloAppEngine extends HttpServlet {

      // Use the java.util.logging.Logger to log messages
      private static final Logger logger = Logger.getLogger(HelloAppEngine.class.getName());

      public void doGet(HttpServletRequest request, HttpServletResponse response)
          throws IOException {
        // Sample log messages
        logger.info("Info message");
        logger.warning("Warning message");
        logger.severe("Severe message");

        response.getWriter().println("Hello App Engine");

Group app logs with the request log

In the second-generation runtimes, the protoPayload.line field in the request log doesn't contain app logs. The Logs Explorer uses the trace field to group request logs and app logs. The java.util.logging package automatically adds the trace ID to all request and app logs. To view correlated logs in the Logs Explorer, see View correlated logs.

Use the Simple Logging Facade for Java (SLF4J)

SLF4J is the most popular logging interface used in Java applications. Being a facade, the SLF4J interface is platform-independent of its logging backend, enabling you to choose any backend suitable for your apps.

The following image shows integration options for two SLF4J backends including the java.util.logging library and the Logback appender:

SLF4J overview

SLF4J with java.util.logging package

SLF4J lets you integrate your app with Cloud Logging when you use SLF4J with java.util.logging as the logging backend. By default, App Engine adds a trace ID to all request and app logs. This mechanism enables the grouping of request and app logs in the Logs Explorer.

To implement SLF4J with java.util.logging, follow these steps:

  1. Add the slf4j-jdk14.jar dependency to your pom.xml file. The slf4j-jdk14.jar file provides the backend integration for the java.util.logging library:

    <!-- SLF4J interface -->
    <!-- JUL implementation for SLF4J -->
  2. Create a WEB-INF/logging.properties file to add custom configurations:

    com.example.appengine.java8.HelloAppEngine.level = INFO
  3. Update your appengine-web.xml file to include the <property> value for WEB-INF/logging.properties:

      <property name="java.util.logging.config.file" value="WEB-INF/logging.properties"/>

The following image shows how SLF4J with java.util.logging automatically adds the trace ID to an app log:

Group app logs by request with trace ID

To tune your Logs Explorer view to a request-centric view like the first-generation runtime, see View correlated logs.

Use SLF4J with Logback appender

If your first-generation runtime apps use the built-in implementation of SLF4J with Logback, you must update your source code, and implement additional steps to group request and app logs.

To integrate your app with Cloud Logging, follow these steps:

  1. Add the google-cloud-logging-logback appender to your pom.xml file to install the logging appender for Logback:

     <!-- SLF4J interface -->
     <!-- Logback JARs -->
     <!-- Google Cloud logging appender for Logback -->
  2. Create a logging enhancer to add a trace ID to each LogEntry field. The following TraceIdLoggingEnhancer class uses the ApiProxy API to retrieve the trace ID associated with a request:

      import com.google.appengine.api.utils.SystemProperty;
      import com.google.cloud.logging.LogEntry;
      import com.google.cloud.logging.LoggingEnhancer;
      import com.google.apphosting.api.ApiProxy;
      import com.google.apphosting.api.ApiProxy.Environment;
      // Add trace ID to the log entry
      public class TraceIdLoggingEnhancer implements LoggingEnhancer {
        public void enhanceLogEntry(LogEntry.Builder logEntry) {
          final String PROJECT_ID = SystemProperty.applicationId.get();
          Environment environment = ApiProxy.getCurrentEnvironment();
          if (environment instanceof ApiProxy.EnvironmentWithTrace) {
            ApiProxy.EnvironmentWithTrace environmentWithTrace = (ApiProxy.EnvironmentWithTrace) environment;
                    id ->
                      logEntry.setTrace(String.format("projects/%s/traces/%s", PROJECT_ID, id)));
      // [END logging_enhancer]
  3. Add the Cloud Logging appender configuration in logback.xml file to configure the Logback. The Logback framework manages configuration through the logback.xml file in the WEB-INF/classes:

      <appender name="CLOUD" class="com.google.cloud.logging.logback.LoggingAppender">
          <!-- This should be set to the new Logging Enhancer in the app code. -->
      <root level="info">
          <appender-ref ref="CLOUD" />

    The following image shows the final app directory structure:

    Directory structure

View correlated logs

You can view correlated logs in the Logs Explorer using the trace ID field in each log entry. To view correlated logs in the Logs Explorer:

  1. In the navigation panel of the Google Cloud console, select Logging, and then select Logs Explorer:

    Go to Logs Explorer

  2. In Resource Type, select GAE Application.

  3. To view and correlate request logs, in Log Name, select request_log. Alternatively, to correlate by request logs, click Correlate by and select request_log:

    Correlating logs

  4. In the Query results pane, to expand a log entry, click Expand. On expanding, each request log will show the associated app logs.