How to log as much information as possible for a Java Exception?-ThrowExceptions

Exception or error:

There’s a common problem I’ve come across a few times when logging Exceptions. There seem to be various different types to deal with. E.g. some wrap other Exceptions, some don’t have a message at all – just a type.

Most code I’ve seen logs Exceptions using either getMessage() or toString() but these don’t always capture all the information needed to pinpoint the problem – other methods such as getCause() and getStackTrace() sometimes provide additional info.

As an example, the Exception I’m looking at right now in my Eclipse Inspect window is an InvocationTargetException. The Exception itself has no cause, no message, no stacktrace … but the target from getCause() is InvalidUseOfMatchersException with these details populated.

So my question is: Given an Exception of any type as an input please provide a single method that will output a nicely formatted String containing all relevant information about the Exception (e.g. possibly recursively calling getCause() amongst other things?) Before posting this question I was nearly going to have a stab at this myself but don’t really want to reinvent the wheel – surely such a thing must have been done many times before…?

Please don’t point me at any particular logging or utility framework to do this. I’m looking for a fragment of code rather than a library since I don’t have the right to add external dependencies on the project I’m working on and it’s actually being logged to part of a webpage rather than a file. If it’s a case of copying the code fragment out of such a framework (and attributing it) that’s fine 🙂

How to solve:

The java.util.logging package is standard in Java SE. Its Logger includes an overloaded log method that accepts Throwable objects.
It will log stacktraces of exceptions and their cause for you.

For example:

import java.util.logging.Level;
import java.util.logging.Logger;

[...]

Logger logger = Logger.getAnonymousLogger();
Exception e1 = new Exception();
Exception e2 = new Exception(e1);
logger.log(Level.SEVERE, "an exception was thrown", e2);

Will log:

SEVERE: an exception was thrown
java.lang.Exception: java.lang.Exception
    at LogStacktrace.main(LogStacktrace.java:21)
Caused by: java.lang.Exception
    at LogStacktrace.main(LogStacktrace.java:20)

Internally, this does exactly what @philipp-wendler suggests, by the way.
See the source code for SimpleFormatter.java. This is just a higher level interface.

Answer:

What’s wrong with the printStacktrace() method provided by Throwable (and thus every exception)? It shows all the info you requested, including the type, message, and stack trace of the root exception and all (nested) causes. In Java 7, it even shows you the information about “supressed” exceptions that might occur in a try-with-resources statement.

Of course you wouldn’t want to write to System.err, which the no-argument version of the method does, so instead use one of the available overloads.

In particular, if you just want to get a String:

  Exception e = ...
  StringWriter sw = new StringWriter();
  e.printStackTrace(new PrintWriter(sw));
  String exceptionDetails = sw.toString();

If you happen to use the great Guava library, it provides a utility method doing this: com.google.common.base.Throwables#getStackTraceAsString(Throwable).

Answer:

It should be quite simple if you are using LogBack or SLF4J. I do it as below

//imports
import org.slf4j.Logger;
import org.slf4j.LoggerFactory;

//Initialize logger
Logger logger = LoggerFactory.getLogger(<classname>.class);
try {
   //try something
} catch(Exception e){
   //Actual logging of error
   logger.error("some message", e);
}

Answer:

A logging script that I have written some time ago might be of help, although it is not exactly what you want. It acts in a way like a System.out.println but with much more information about StackTrace etc. It also provides Clickable text for Eclipse:

private static final SimpleDateFormat   extended    = new SimpleDateFormat( "dd MMM yyyy (HH:mm:ss) zz" );

public static java.util.logging.Logger initLogger(final String name) {
    final java.util.logging.Logger logger = java.util.logging.Logger.getLogger( name );
    try {

        Handler ch = new ConsoleHandler();
        logger.addHandler( ch );

        logger.setLevel( Level.ALL ); // Level selbst setzen

        logger.setUseParentHandlers( false );

        final java.util.logging.SimpleFormatter formatter = new SimpleFormatter() {

            @Override
            public synchronized String format(final LogRecord record) {
                StackTraceElement[] trace = new Throwable().getStackTrace();
                String clickable = "(" + trace[ 7 ].getFileName() + ":" + trace[ 7 ].getLineNumber() + ") ";
                /* Clickable text in Console. */

                for( int i = 8; i < trace.length; i++ ) {
                    /* 0 - 6 is the logging trace, 7 - x is the trace until log method was called */
                    if( trace[ i ].getFileName() == null )
                        continue;
                    clickable = "(" + trace[ i ].getFileName() + ":" + trace[ i ].getLineNumber() + ") -> " + clickable;
                }

                final String time = "<" + extended.format( new Date( record.getMillis() ) ) + "> ";

                StringBuilder level = new StringBuilder("[" + record.getLevel() + "] ");
                while( level.length() < 15 ) /* extend for tabby display */
                    level.append(" ");

                StringBuilder name = new StringBuilder(record.getLoggerName()).append(": ");
                while( name.length() < 15 ) /* extend for tabby display */
                    name.append(" ");

                String thread = Thread.currentThread().getName();
                if( thread.length() > 18 ) /* trim if too long */
                    thread = thread.substring( 0, 16 ) + "..."; 
                else {
                    StringBuilder sb = new StringBuilder(thread);
                    while( sb.length() < 18 ) /* extend for tabby display */
                        sb.append(" ");
                    thread = sb.insert( 0, "Thread " ).toString();
                }

                final String message = "\"" + record.getMessage() + "\" ";

                return level + time + thread + name + clickable + message + "\n";
            }
        };
        ch.setFormatter( formatter );
        ch.setLevel( Level.ALL );
    } catch( final SecurityException e ) {
        e.printStackTrace();
    }
    return logger;
}

Notice this outputs to the console, you can change that, see http://docs.oracle.com/javase/1.4.2/docs/api/java/util/logging/Logger.html for more information on that.

Now, the following will probably do what you want. It will go through all causes of a Throwable and save it in a String. Note that this does not use StringBuilder, so you can optimize by changing it.

Throwable e = ...
String detail = e.getClass().getName() + ": " + e.getMessage();
for( final StackTraceElement s : e.getStackTrace() )
    detail += "\n\t" + s.toString();
while( ( e = e.getCause() ) != null ) {
    detail += "\nCaused by: ";
    for( final StackTraceElement s : e.getStackTrace() )
        detail += "\n\t" + s.toString();
}

Regards,
Danyel

Answer:

You can also use Apache’s ExceptionUtils.

Example:

import org.apache.commons.lang.exception.ExceptionUtils;
import org.apache.log4j.Logger;


public class Test {

    static Logger logger = Logger.getLogger(Test.class);

    public static void main(String[] args) {

        try{
            String[] avengers = null;
            System.out.println("Size: "+avengers.length);
        } catch (NullPointerException e){
            logger.info(ExceptionUtils.getFullStackTrace(e));
        }
    }

}

Console output:

java.lang.NullPointerException
    at com.aimlessfist.avengers.ironman.Test.main(Test.java:11)

Answer:

Something that I do is to have a static method that handles all exceptions and I add the log to a JOptionPane to show it to the user, but you could write the result to a file in FileWriter wraped in a BufeeredWriter.
For the main static method, to catch the Uncaught Exceptions I do:

SwingUtilities.invokeLater( new Runnable() {
    @Override
    public void run() {
        //Initializations...
    }
});


Thread.setDefaultUncaughtExceptionHandler( 
    new Thread.UncaughtExceptionHandler() {
        @Override
        public void uncaughtException( Thread t, Throwable ex ) {
            handleExceptions( ex, true );
        }
    }
);

And as for the method:

public static void handleExceptions( Throwable ex, boolean shutDown ) {
    JOptionPane.showMessageDialog( null,
        "A CRITICAL ERROR APPENED!\n",
        "SYSTEM FAIL",
        JOptionPane.ERROR_MESSAGE );

    StringBuilder sb = new StringBuilder(ex.toString());
    for (StackTraceElement ste : ex.getStackTrace()) {
        sb.append("\n\tat ").append(ste);
    }


    while( (ex = ex.getCause()) != null ) {
        sb.append("\n");
        for (StackTraceElement ste : ex.getStackTrace()) {
            sb.append("\n\tat ").append(ste);
        }
    }

    String trace = sb.toString();

    JOptionPane.showMessageDialog( null,
        "PLEASE SEND ME THIS ERROR SO THAT I CAN FIX IT. \n\n" + trace,
        "SYSTEM FAIL",
        JOptionPane.ERROR_MESSAGE);

    if( shutDown ) {
        Runtime.getRuntime().exit( 0 );
    }
}

In you case, instead of “screaming” to the user, you could write a log like I told you before:

String trace = sb.toString();

File file = new File("mylog.txt");
FileWriter myFileWriter = null;
BufferedWriter myBufferedWriter = null;

try {
    //with FileWriter(File file, boolean append) you can writer to 
    //the end of the file
    myFileWriter = new FileWriter( file, true );
    myBufferedWriter = new BufferedWriter( myFileWriter );

    myBufferedWriter.write( trace );
}
catch ( IOException ex1 ) {
    //Do as you want. Do you want to use recursive to handle 
    //this exception? I don't advise that. Trust me...
}
finally {
    try {
        myBufferedWriter.close();
    }
    catch ( IOException ex1 ) {
        //Idem...
    }

    try {
        myFileWriter.close();
    }
    catch ( IOException ex1 ) {
        //Idem...
    }
}

I hope I have helped.

Have a nice day. 🙂

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