You Built Your Node App, But Are You Logging?

You Built Your Node App, But Are You Logging?

Logging by itself is a best practice, learn how to do it right.

Logging by itself is a best practice, learn how to do it right

Logging is a crucial part of developing an application. When the app is on production, logs are necessary to identify the problem if something goes wrong with it. So, if you are a developer, you should ask the question, “Am I doing logging the right way?”.

In this post, we are going to provide an answer to that question. We will discuss what are the best practices developers, especially Node developers, should follow when logging your application events.


Why are logs important?

No matter how careful we are when developing an application, it’s a difficult task to make it 100% secure and bugs-free. We try to find and solve most of the problems during development by testing and debugging. Still, we won’t be able to catch all of them.

Because of these remaining errors, applications running in production might behave in unexpected ways in certain situations. Sometimes, they can be really critical, even crash the application entirely. In such a case, can we run a debugger to figure out what went wrong with our application? No, it’s not the most practical idea.

Instead, we use application logs to understand how and why the application is behaving differently. For this, we have to set up our application to record information about its events and errors. And this is what we call logging. Logging helps us identify problems with an application running in production.


Logging best practices

Since logs are quite important, we need to follow logging practices that will help us easily identify problems and their causes.

1. Don’t use console.log

Developers tend to rely on Node’s console.log function to log application events since it’s easily accessible, needs no additional set up, and simple to use. But if you want to take logging seriously, and you should, this is not the way to achieve it.

console.log prints its output to stdout. Other console functions, like console.err and console.warn prints outputs to stderr. You can’t configure console.log to transport the logs to a file or a database. You can’t turn logging on and off or switch between different logging levels (which we will talk about later) when the app is on production.

Simply, console.log doesn’t provide enough features or configuration options to become an adequate logging tool. You should instead use a dedicated logging library to get the job done properly.

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