The Log Package

User Documentation

Author: Jon Parise
Date: 2004-12-20
Revision: 1.15


1   Using Log Handlers

The Log package is implemented as a framework that supports the notion of backend-specific log handlers. The base logging object (defined by the Log class) is primarily an abstract interface to the currently configured handler.

A wide variety of handlers are distributed with the Log package, and, should none of them fit your application's needs, it's easy to write your own.

1.1   Creating a Log Object

There are three ways to create Log objects:

  • Using the Log::factory() method
  • Using the Log::singleton() method
  • Direct instantiation

1.1.1   The Factory Method

The Log::factory() method implements the Factory Pattern. It allows for the parameterized construction of concrete Log instances at runtime. The first parameter to the Log::factory() method indicates the name of the concrete handler to create. The rest of the parameters will be passed on to the handler's constructor (see Configuring a Handler below).

The new Log instance is returned by reference.

require_once 'Log.php';

$console = &Log::factory('console', '', 'TEST');
$console->log('Logging to the console.');

$file = &Log::factory('file', 'out.log', 'TEST');
$file->log('Logging to out.log.');

1.1.2   The Singleton Method

The Log::singleton() method implements the Singleton Pattern. The singleton pattern ensures that only a single instance of a given log type and configuration is ever created. This has two benefits: first, it prevents duplicate Log instances from being constructed, and, second, it gives all of your code access to the same Log instance. The latter is especially important when logging to files because only a single file handler will need to be managed.

The Log::singleton() method's parameters match the Log::factory() method. The new Log instance is returned by reference.

require_once 'Log.php';

/* Same construction parameters */
$a = &Log::singleton('console', '', 'TEST');
$b = &Log::singleton('console', '', 'TEST');

if ($a === $b) {
    echo '$a and $b point to the same Log instance.' . "\n";

/* Different construction parameters */
$c = &Log::singleton('console', '', 'TEST1');
$d = &Log::singleton('console', '', 'TEST2');

if ($c !== $d) {
    echo '$c and $d point to different Log instances.' . "\n";

1.1.3   Direct Instantiation

It is also possible to directly instantiate concrete Log handler instances. However, this method is not recommended because it creates a tighter coupling between your application code and the Log package than is necessary. Use of the factory method or the singleton method is preferred.

1.2   Configuring a Handler

A log handler's configuration is determined by the arguments used in its construction. Here's an overview of those parameters:

/* Using the factory method ... */
&Log::factory($handler, $name, $ident, $conf, $maxLevel);

/* Using the singleton method ... */
&Log::singleton($handler, $name, $ident, $conf, $maxLevel);

/* Using direct instantiation ... */
new Log_handler($name, $ident, $conf, $maxLevel);
Parameter Type Description
$handler String The type of Log handler to construct. This parameter is only available when the factory method or the singleton method are used.
$name String The name of the log resource to which the events will be logged. The use of this value is determined by the handler's implementation. It defaults to an empty string.
$ident String An identification string that will be included in all log events logged by this handler. This value defaults to an empty string and can be changed at runtime using the setIdent() method.
$conf Array Associative array of key-value pairs that are used to specify any handler-specific settings.
$level Integer Log messages up to and including this level. This value defaults to PEAR_LOG_DEBUG. See Log Levels and Log Level Masks.

1.3   Logging an Event

Events are logged using the log() method:

$logger->log('Message', PEAR_LOG_NOTICE);

The first argument contains the log event's message. Even though the event is always logged as a string, it is possible to pass an object to the log() method. If the object implements a getString() method, a toString() method or Zend Engine 2's special __toString() casting method, it will be used to determine the object's string representation. Otherwise, the serialized form of the object will be logged.

The second, optional argument specifies the log event's priority. See the Log Levels table for the complete list of priorities. The default priority is PEAR_LOG_INFO.

The log() method will return true if the event was successfully logged.

"Shortcut" methods are also available for logging an event at a specific log level. See the Log Levels table for the complete list.

1.4   Log Levels

This table is ordered by highest priority (PEAR_LOG_EMERG) to lowest priority (PEAR_LOG_DEBUG).

Level Shortcut Description
PEAR_LOG_EMERG emerg() System is unusable
PEAR_LOG_ALERT alert() Immediate action required
PEAR_LOG_CRIT crit() Critical conditions
PEAR_LOG_ERR err() Error conditions
PEAR_LOG_WARNING warning() Warning conditions
PEAR_LOG_NOTICE notice() Normal but significant
PEAR_LOG_INFO info() Informational
PEAR_LOG_DEBUG debug() Debug-level messages

1.5   Log Level Masks

Defining a log level mask allows you to include and/or exclude specific levels of events from being logged. The $level construction parameter (see Configuring a Handler) uses this mechanism to exclude log events below a certain priority, and it's possible to define more complex masks once the Log object has been constructed.

Each priority has a specific mask associated with it. To compute a priority's mask, use the static Log::MASK() method:

$mask = Log::MASK(PEAR_LOG_INFO);

To compute the mask for all priorities up to a certain level, use the Log::UPTO() method:

$mask = Log::UPTO(PEAR_LOG_INFO);

The apply the mask, use the setMask() method:


Masks can be be combined using bitwise operations. To restrict logging to only those events marked as PEAR_LOG_NOTICE or PEAR_LOG_DEBUG:


For convenience, two special masks are predefined: PEAR_LOG_NONE and PEAR_LOG_ALL. PEAR_LOG_ALL is especially useful for exluding only specific priorities:


It is also possible to retrieve and modify a Log object's existing mask:

$mask = $logger->getMask() | Log::MASK(PEAR_LOG_INFO);

1.6   Flushing Log Events

Some log handlers (such as the console handler) support explicit "buffering". When buffering is enabled, log events won't actually be written to the output stream until the handler is closed. Other handlers (such as the file handler) support implicit buffering because they use the operating system's IO routines, which may buffer the output.

It's possible to force these handlers to flush their output, however, by calling their flush() method:

$conf = array('buffering' => true);
$logger = &Log::singleton('console', '', 'test', $conf);

for ($i = 0; $i < 10; $i++) {
    $logger->log('This event will be buffered.');

/* Flush all of the buffered log events. */

for ($i = 0; $i < 10; $i++) {
    $logger->log('This event will be buffered.');

/* Implicitly flush the buffered events on close. */

At this time, the flush() method is only implemented by the console handler, the file handler and the mail handler.

2   Standard Log Handlers

2.1   The Console Handler

The Console handler outputs log events directly to the console. It supports output buffering and configurable string formats.

2.1.1   Configuration

Parameter Type Default Description
stream File STDOUT The output stream to use.
buffering Boolean False Should the output be buffered until shutdown?
lineFormat String %1$s %2$s [%3$s] %4$s Log line format specification.
timeFormat String %b %d %H:%M:%S Time stamp format (for strftime).

2.1.2   Example

$logger = &Log::singleton('console', '', 'ident');
for ($i = 0; $i < 10; $i++) {
    $logger->log("Log entry $i");

2.2   The Display Handler

The Display handler simply prints the log events back to the browser. It respects the error_prepend_string and error_append_string error handling values and is useful when logging from standard error handlers.

2.2.1   Configuration

Parameter Type Default Description
error_prepend String PHP INI value This string will be prepended to the log output.
error_append String PHP INI value This string will be appended to the log output.

2.2.2   Example

$conf = array('error_prepend' => '<font color="#ff0000"><tt>',
              'error_append'  => '</tt></font>');
$logger = &Log::singleton('display', '', '', $conf, PEAR_LOG_DEBUG);
for ($i = 0; $i < 10; $i++) {
    $logger->log("Log entry $i");

2.3   The Error_Log Handler

The Error_Log handler sends log events to PHP's error_log() function.

2.3.1   Configuration

Parameter Type Default Description
destination String '' (empty) Optional destination value for error_log(). See Error_Log Types for more details.
extra_headers String '' (empty) Additional headers to pass to the mail() function when the PEAR_LOG_TYPE_MAIL type is specified.

2.3.2   Error_Log Types

All of the available log types are detailed in the error_log() section of the PHP manual. For your convenience, the Log package also defines the following constants that can be used for the $name handler construction parameter.

Constant Description
PEAR_LOG_TYPE_SYSTEM Log events are sent to PHP's system logger, which uses the operating system's logging mechanism or a file (depending on the value of the error_log configuration directive).
PEAR_LOG_TYPE_MAIL Log events are sent via email to the address specified in the destination value.
PEAR_LOG_TYPE_DEBUG Log events are sent through PHP's debugging connection. This will only work if remote debugging has been enabled. The destination value is used to specify the host name or IP address of the target socket.
PEAR_LOG_TYPE_FILE Log events will be appended to the file named by the destination value.

2.3.3   Example

$logger = &Log::singleton('error_log', PEAR_LOG_TYPE_SYSTEM, 'ident');
for ($i = 0; $i < 10; $i++) {
    $logger->log("Log entry $i");

2.4   The File Handler

The File handler writes log events to a text file using configurable string formats.

2.4.1   Configuration

Parameter Type Default Description
append Boolean True Should new log entries be append to an existing log file, or should the a new log file overwrite an existing one?
mode Integer 0644 Octal representation of the log file's permissions mode.
eol String OS default The end-on-line character sequence.
lineFormat String %1$s %2$s [%3$s] %4$s Log line format specification.
timeFormat String %b %d %H:%M:%S Time stamp format (for strftime).

2.4.2   Example

$conf = array('mode' => 0600, 'timeFormat' => '%X %x');
$logger = &Log::singleton('file', 'out.log', 'ident', $conf);
for ($i = 0; $i < 10; $i++) {
    $logger->log("Log entry $i");

2.5   The Mail Handler

The Mail handler aggregates a session's log events and sends them in the body of an email message using PHP's mail() function.

2.5.1   Configuration

Parameter Type Default Description
from String sendmail_from INI value Value for the message's From: header.
subject String [Log_mail] Log message Value for the message's Subject: header.
preamble String `` (empty) Preamble for the message.

2.5.2   Example

$conf = array('subject' => 'Important Log Events');
$logger = &Log::singleton('mail', '', 'ident', $conf);
for ($i = 0; $i < 10; $i++) {
    $logger->log("Log entry $i");

2.6   The Null Handler

The Null handler simply consumes log events (akin to sending them to /dev/null). Log level masks are respected, and the event will still be sent to any registered log observers.

2.6.1   Example

$logger = &Log::singleton('null');
for ($i = 0; $i < 10; $i++) {
    $logger->log("Log entry $i");

2.7   The SQL (DB) Handler

The SQL handler sends log events to a database using PEAR's DB abstraction layer.

Note: Due to the constraints of the default database schema, the SQL handler limits the length of the $ident string to sixteen (16) characters. This limit can be adjusted using the identLimit configuration parameter.

2.7.1   The Log Table

The default SQL table used by this handler looks like this:

CREATE TABLE log_table (
    id          INT NOT NULL,
    logtime     TIMESTAMP NOT NULL,
    ident       CHAR(16) NOT NULL,
    priority    INT NOT NULL,
    message     VARCHAR(200),
    PRIMARY KEY (id)

This is the "lowest common denominator" that should work across all SQL compliant database. You may want to make database- or site-specific changes to this schema to support your specific needs, however. For example, PostgreSQL users may prefer to use a TEXT type for the message field.

2.7.2   Configuration

Parameter Type Default Description
dsn String '' (empty) A Data Source Name. [required]
db Object NULL An existing DB object. If specified, this object will be used, and dsn will be ignored.
sequence String log_id The name of the sequence to use when generating unique event IDs. Under many databases, this will be used as the name of the sequence table.
identLimit Integer 16 The maximum length of the ident string. Changing this value may require updates to the SQL schema, as well.

The name of the database table to which the log entries will be written is specified using the $name construction parameter (see Configuring a Handler).

2.7.3   Examples

Using a Data Source Name to create a new database connection:

$conf = array('dsn' => 'pgsql://jon@localhost+unix/logs');
$logger = &Log::singleton('sql', 'log_table', 'ident', $conf);
for ($i = 0; $i < 10; $i++) {
    $logger->log("Log entry $i");

Using an existing DB object:

require_once 'DB.php';
$db = &DB::connect('pgsql://jon@localhost+unix/logs');

$conf['db'] = $db;
$logger = &Log::singleton('sql', 'log_table', 'ident', $conf);
for ($i = 0; $i < 10; $i++) {
    $logger->log("Log entry $i");

2.8   The Sqlite Handler

Author:Bertrand Mansion

The Sqlite handler sends log events to an Sqlite database using the native PHP sqlite functions.

It is faster than the SQL (DB) handler because requests are made directly to the database without using an abstraction layer. It is also interesting to note that Sqlite database files can be moved, copied, and deleted on your system just like any other files, which makes log management easier. Last but not least, using a database to log your events allows you to use SQL queries to create reports and statistics.

When using a database and logging a lot of events, it is recommended to split the database into smaller databases. This is allowed by Sqlite, and you can later use the Sqlite ATTACH statement to query your log database files globally.

If the database does not exist when the log is opened, sqlite will try to create it automatically. If the log table does not exist, it will also be automatically created. The table creation uses the following SQL request:

CREATE TABLE log_table (
    logtime     NOT NULL,
    ident       CHAR(16) NOT NULL,
    priority    INT NOT NULL,

2.8.1   Configuration

Parameter Type Default Description
filename String '' (empty) Path to an Sqlite database. [required]
mode Integer 0666 Octal mode used to open the database.
persistent Boolean false Use a persistent connection.

An already opened database connection can also be passed as parameter instead of the above configuration. In this case, closing the database connection is up to the user.

2.8.2   Examples

Using a configuration to create a new database connection:

$conf = array('filename' => 'log.db', 'mode' => 0666, 'persistent' => true);
$logger =& Log::factory('sqlite', 'log_table', 'ident', $conf);
$logger->log('logging an event', PEAR_LOG_WARNING);

Using an existing connection:

$db = sqlite_open('log.db', 0666, $error);
$logger =& Log::factory('sqlite', 'log_table', 'ident', $db);
$logger->log('logging an event', PEAR_LOG_WARNING);

2.9   The Syslog Handler

The Syslog handler sends log events to the system logging service (syslog on Unix-like environments or the Event Log on Windows systems). The events are sent using PHP's syslog() function.

2.9.1   Facilities

Constant Category Description
LOG_AUTH Security / authorization messages; LOG_AUTHPRIV is preferred on systems where it is defined.
LOG_AUTHPRIV Private security / authorization messages
LOG_CRON Clock daemon (cron and at)
LOG_DAEMON System daemon processes
LOG_KERN Kernel messages
LOG_LOCAL0 .. LOG_LOCAL7 Reserved for local use; not available under Windows.
LOG_LPR Printer subsystem
LOG_MAIL Mail subsystem
LOG_NEWS USENET news subsystem
LOG_SYSLOG Internal syslog messages
LOG_USER Generic user-level messages
LOG_UUCP UUCP subsystem

2.9.2   Example

$logger = &Log::singleton('syslog', LOG_LOCAL0, 'ident');
for ($i = 0; $i < 10; $i++) {
    $logger->log("Log entry $i");

2.10   The Window Handler

The Window handler sends log events to a separate browser window. The original idea for this handler was inspired by Craig Davis' article entitled "JavaScript Power PHP Debugging".

2.10.1   Configuration

Parameter Type Default Description
title String Log Output Window The title of the output window.
colors Array ROY G BIV (high to low) Mapping of log priorities to colors.

2.10.2   Example

$conf = array('title' => 'Sample Log Output');
$logger = &Log::singleton('win', 'LogWindow', 'ident', $conf);
for ($i = 0; $i < 10; $i++) {
    $logger->log("Log entry $i");

3   Composite Handlers

It is often useful to log events to multiple handlers. The Log package provides a compositing system that marks this task trivial.

Start by creating the individual log handlers:

$console = &Log::singleton('console', '', 'TEST');
$file = &Log::singleton('file', 'out.log', 'TEST');

Then, construct a composite handler and add the individual handlers as children of the composite:

$composite = &Log::singleton('composite');

The composite handler implements the standard Log interface so you can use it just like any of the other handlers:

$composite->log('This event will be logged to both handlers.');

Children can be removed from the composite when they're not longer needed:


4   Log Observers

Log observers provide an implementation of the observer pattern. In the content of the Log package, they provide a mechanism by which you can examine (i.e. observe) each event as it is logged. This allows the implementation of special behavior based on the contents of a log event. For example, the observer code could send an alert email if a log event contained the string PANIC.

Creating a log observer involves implementing a subclass of the Log_observer class. The subclass must override the base class's notify() method. This method is passed a hash containing the event's priority and event. The subclass's implementation is free to act upon this information in any way it likes.

Log observers are attached to Log instances via the attach() method:

$observer = &Log_observer::factory('yourType');

Observers can be detached using the detach() method:


At this time, no concrete Log_observer implementations are distributed with the Log package.

5   Logging From Standard Error Handlers

5.1   Logging PHP Errors

PHP's default error handler can be overridden using the set_error_handler() function. The custom error handling function can use a global Log instance to log the PHP errors.

Note: Fatal PHP errors cannot be handled by a custom error handler at this time.

function errorHandler($code, $message, $file, $line)
    global $logger;

    /* Map the PHP error to a Log priority. */
    switch ($code) {
    case E_WARNING:
    case E_USER_WARNING:
        $priority = PEAR_LOG_WARNING;
    case E_NOTICE:
    case E_USER_NOTICE:
        $priority = PEAR_LOG_NOTICE;
    case E_ERROR:
    case E_USER_ERROR:
        $priority = PEAR_LOG_ERR;
        $priotity = PEAR_LOG_INFO;

    $logger->log($message . ' in ' . $file . ' at line ' . $line,

trigger_error('This is an information log message.', E_USER_NOTICE);

5.2   Logging PEAR Errors

The Log package can be used with PEAR::setErrorHandling()'s PEAR_ERROR_CALLBACK mechanism by writing an error handling function that uses a global Log instance. Here's an example:

function errorHandler($error)
    global $logger;

    $message = $error->getMessage();

    if (!empty($error->backtrace[1]['file'])) {
        $message .= ' (' . $error->backtrace[1]['file'];
        if (!empty($error->backtrace[1]['line'])) {
            $message .= ' at line ' . $error->backtrace[1]['line'];
        $message .= ')';

    $logger->log($message, $error->code);

PEAR::setErrorHandling(PEAR_ERROR_CALLBACK, 'errorHandler');
PEAR::raiseError('This is an information log message.', PEAR_LOG_INFO);

6   Custom Handlers

There are times when the standard handlers aren't a perfect match for your needs. In those situations, the solution might be to write a custom handler.

6.1   Using a Custom Handler

Using a custom Log handler is very simple. Once written (see Writing New Handlers and Extending Existing Handlers below), you have the choice of placing the file in your PEAR installation's main Log/ directory (usually something like /usr/local/lib/php/Log or C:\php\pear\Log), where it can be found and use by any PHP application on the system, or placing the file somewhere in your application's local hierarchy and including it before the the custom Log object is constructed.

6.1.1   Method 1: Handler in the Standard Location

After copying the handler file to your PEAR installation's Log/ directory, simply treat the handler as if it were part of the standard distributed. If your handler is named custom (and therefore implemented by a class named Log_custom):

require_once 'Log.php';

$logger = &Log::factory('custom', '', 'CUSTOM');

6.1.2   Method 2: Handler in a Custom Location

If you prefer storing your handler in your application's local hierarchy, you'll need to include that file before you can create a Log instance based on it.

require_once 'Log.php';
require_once 'LocalHandlers/custom.php';

$logger = &Log::factory('custom', '', 'CUSTOM');