Logging library for (c++) games

  • Logging library for (c++) games Klaim

    I know a lot of logging libraries but didn't test a lot of them. (GoogleLog, Pantheios, the coming boost::log library...)

    In games, especially in remote multiplayer and multithreaded games, logging is vital to debugging, even if you remove all logs in the end.

    Let's say I'm making a PC game (not console) that needs logs (multiplayer and multithreaded and/or multiprocess) and I have good reasons for looking for a library for logging (like, I don't have time or I'm not confident in my ability to write one correctly for my case).

    Assuming that I need :

    1. performance
    2. ease of use (allow streaming or formating or something like that)
    3. reliable (don't leak or crash!)
    4. cross-platform (at least Windows, MacOSX, Linux/Ubuntu)

    Wich logging library would you recommand?

    Currently, I think that boost::log is the most flexible one (you can even log to remotely!), but have not good performance update: is for high performance, but isn't released yet. Pantheios is often cited but I don't have comparison points on performance and usage. I've used my own lib for a long time but I know it don't manage multithreading so it's a big problem, even if it's fast enough. Google Log seems interesting, I just need to test it but if you already have compared those libs and more, your advice might be of good use.

    Games are often performance demanding while complex to debug so it would be good to know logging libraries that, in our specific case, have clear advantages.

  • When it comes to performance, I've found templog pretty much unbeaten. It uses expression templates to defer evaluation of logging statements until it's established that the information will be logged at all. Since you can also partly turn off logging (depending on severity, origin, and targeted audience of a log message), some of these logging statement can be eliminated to zero code by the compiler for release builds. (I have actually seen this happen with VC.)

    There wasn't much done to the library recently, and others on SO have found the trunk lacking in some regards, but in a company I used to work for we have found the guy quite responsive, and one of my then cow-workers even got commit access and added some code to it, so you might find it worth a shot.

    To enumerate your requirements:


    Best I've found. Especially its ability to exclude log messages at compile-time and have the compiler completely eliminate those was very appealing.

    ease of use (allow streaming or formating or something like that)

    There's the classical horrible compiler error messages of templates-meta stuff when you do something wrong, but when it comes to ease of use, this

    TEMPLOG_LOG(my_logger,sev_error,aud_support) << "logged in as " << user_name;

    is hard to beat.
    However, you might have to create your own log sinks (that's where the log messages go), as the few pre-packaged ones (stderr, file, Windows logging, etc.) aren't all that sophisticated. Due to performance being a main goal, the intrinsics of the whole thing are somewhat complicated (like log message formatters being quite tangled with log sinks), but we did master that (I remember stepping through it in a debugger helping with that) and once understood it wasn't all that hard to write your own message formatters or log sinks.

    reliable (don't leak or crash!)

    We have used it without finding any such severe issues. There's virtually no dynamic memory allocation in there, so it's hard to even imagine it doing something wrong. Of course, we only ever put it to real-world tests in one product.

    cross-platform (at least Windows, MacOSX, Linux/Ubuntu)

    When we used it, we used it on Win32, OSX, and several different Linux distributions, Ubuntu among them.

    As for multi-threading: We haven't used this, but from what I remember of the lib's architecture it seems you would only need to handle this in log sinks. ICBWT.

  • log using socket (any socket wrapper can suffice) + web browser websocket => most versatile, unobtrusive logging tool possible, will gain hours of debugging and avoid eye-sore.

    • asyncrhonous (speed as it defers all the job on the browser)
    • formatted (color, size etc..)
    • reliable (sockets...)
    • cross-platform (browser)

    Now, the bonus:

    • dynamic filtering very easily done (using javascript regex if needed)
    • with log history, memory and compare (HTML5 spec on the "in-browser" database)
    • Easy way to make some graph of any data (using SVG, or canvas or anything) like memory, memory fragmentation, etc...
    • easy way to make some 2D graph of any data (kd-tree subdivision ? potential field ? or even just a variable value variation ? etc...)
    • allows distant logging (using the browser other computer)
    • using html5 in browser storage, you can store log session parameteres (current log filters, etc.. and even notes on each)
    • very easy to create bug report or link trac tickets just with a click
    • ability to rewind logging easily, with a timeline gui

    and many more task outside of logging:

    • allows profiler info (graphs...)
    • can even serve as console (send command from browser) or even with quick GUI using some HTML or even flash ui
    • image diff in the browser (send image using socket, and compare in browser using canvas image pixel capabilities)
    • etc...

    (nearly all of the above can be done using flash sockets, save the database capabilities)

    Now I know it seems a bit long to set up the thing. But it really is a gain of time on long project, with hard debugging situation (such as in games.) It's the most powerful thing I used since debuggers...

    Note 1: the only downside => double-check side effect when debugging game networking code (impact on socket buffer size, latency, bandwidth, etc...)

    Note 2: some broswer deactivated by default websocket due to security reason, check about:config things to be sure it's enabled.

c++ software-engineering performance
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