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8 Factors for Choosing a Logging Framework

Ayooluwa Isaiah
Updated on January 9, 2024

Logging frameworks play a crucial role in standardizing the logging process in an application. While some programming languages offer built-in logging solutions, they often fall short in handling the complexities of production-level logging.

A good logging solution must support structured logging and be customizable enough to adapt to diverse needs while only having a minimal impact on application performance.

Taking these factors into account, opting for third-party logging solutions is often the best approach. Therefore, this article will guide you through key considerations to assist you in selecting the most suitable logging framework for your needs.

1. Support for leveled logging

Any competent logging framework will categorize events by severity levels, although the specific range and names of these levels can differ. It's important to select a framework whose severity levels match your requirements, or ideally, one that allows customization of these levels for greater flexibility.

Take Winston for Node.js as an example. It uses the following levels by default:

  error: 0,
  warn: 1,
  info: 2,
  http: 3,
  verbose: 4,
  debug: 5,
  silly: 6

But you can easily change it to something more typical like this:

const logLevels = {
  fatal: 0,
  error: 1,
  warn: 2,
  info: 3,
  debug: 4,
  trace: 5,

const logger = winston.createLogger({
  levels: logLevels,

Learn more: Log Levels Explained and How to Use Them

2. Support for structured logging formats

Applications historically produced unstructured or semi-structured logs which are easily readable by humans but present challenges for automated processing.

DEBUG [2023-06-18 10:23:45] [app.js:123] - User authentication successful for user 'john.doe'.

Structured logging formats like JSON address this by capturing events as objects with distinct properties. This approach enables easier data extraction, analysis, and monitoring with automated processing tools.

  "timestamp": "2023-06-18 10:23:45",
  "file": "app.js",
  "line": 123,
  "level": "DEBUG",
  "message": "User authentication successful for user 'john.doe'"

The challenge with structured logs is that they sacrifice human readability in their raw state, which can be less ideal for development contexts.

To counter this, many frameworks offer pretty-printing options to enhance readability during development while seamlessly reverting to the more efficient, structured format in production.

Screenshot from 2023-07-23 15-48-51.png

Learn more: Log Formatting Best Practices

3. Support for logging contextual data

A good logging framework should support the addition of contextual fields in log records. Such fields enhances log insights by revealing the specific circumstances of each event. Flexibility in adding this context—whether at individual log points, for a group of logs in a transaction, or universally—is crucial.

For example, using Pino, a Node.js logger, you can:

  • Add specific details to individual log entries:
    { transaction_id: '12343_ff', user_id: 'johndoe' },
    'Transaction failed'
  • Group related logs with shared context using child loggers:
function getEntity(entityID) {
  const childLogger = logger.child({ entity_id: entityID });
  childLogger.trace('getEntity invoked');
  childLogger.trace('getEntity completed');

  • Include certain data in all logs by setting it globally during logger initialization:
const pino = require('pino');

const logger = pino({
  formatters: {
bindings: (bindings) => {
return { pid:, host: bindings.hostname, node_version: process.version };
}, });

Aiming for this minimum standard is essential to simplify the addition of adequate context to logged events.

4. Error logging behavior

A good logging framework should not only capture errors but also provide detailed context, including full stack traces, to enhance the understanding of each error's occurrence.

  "level": "error",
  "time": 1643706943924,
  "pid": 13185,
  "hostname": "Kreig",
  "err": {
    "type": "Error",
    "message": "ValidationError: email address in invalid",
    "stack": "Error: ValidationError: email address in invalid\n    at Object.<anonymous> (/home/ayo/dev/betterstack/demo/snippets/main.js:3:14)\n    at Module._compile (node:internal/modules/cjs/loader:1097:14)\n    at Object.Module._extensions..js (node:internal/modules/cjs/loader:1149:10)\n    at Module.load (node:internal/modules/cjs/loader:975:32)\n    at Function.Module._load (node:internal/modules/cjs/loader:822:12)\n    at Function.executeUserEntryPoint [as runMain] (node:internal/modules/run_main:81:12)\n    at node:internal/main/run_main_module:17:47"
  "msg": "ValidationError: email address in invalid"

A relatively uncommon feature is the ability to structure the exception object as well, making it much easier to parse and automate error tracking as well.

Here's an error log produced by Python's Structlog framework showing what serialized exceptions look like:

{"event": "Cannot divide one by zero!", "level": "error", "timestamp": "2023-07-31T07:00:31.526266Z", "exception": [{"exc_type": "ZeroDivisionError", "exc_value": "division by zero", "syntax_error": null, "is_cause": false, "frames": [{"filename": "/home/stanley/structlog_demo/", "lineno": 16, "name": "<module>", "line": "", "locals": {"__name__": "__main__", "__doc__": "None", "__package__": "None", "__loader__": "<_frozen_importlib_external.SourceFileLoader object at 0xffffaa2f3410>", "__spec__": "None", "__annotations__": "{}", "__builtins__": "<module 'builtins' (built-in)>", "__file__": "/home/stanley/structlog_demo/", "__cached__": "None", "structlog": "\"<module 'structlog' from '/home/stanley/structlog_demo/venv/lib/python3.11/site-\"+32", "logger": "'<BoundLoggerLazyProxy(logger=None, wrapper_class=None, processors=None, context_'+55"}}]}]}

5. Impact on application performance

Performance is an important consideration when selecting a logging framework. Ideally, application logging should impose only a minimal performance overhead, even under heavy load. This means selecting a library that prioritizes performance and low memory usage, especially in environments with high log volumes.

Benchmarking Go Logging Frameworks.png

It may be necessary to run benchmarks comparing the performance of the libraries under consideration to find out the relative performance trade-offs that should be accounted for.

6. Support for log sampling

Log sampling involves keeping only a representative sample of logs, usually through random or systematic selection. The sampling rate dictates the proportion of logs stored. For instance, a 10% rate means retaining just 10% of the total logs generated.

In large scale environments, implementing log sampling is a highly effective strategy for reducing the costs associated with storing and transporting log data.

By choosing a framework that supports sampling, you'll be able to sample your logs efficiently at the application level before they get into your logging pipeline.

However, lack of support for sampling is not necessarily a deal-breaker as you can always sample using a log collector such as Vector.

7. Impact on application behavior and testing

A crucial aspect of logging frameworks is their non-intrusive nature; log statements must not alter the application's behavior or execution flow.

Equally important is the ability to control or turn off logging during testing phases to prevent influencing test outcomes, helping to avoid inconsistent test results (flaky tests).

8. Reputation and community support

Another important consideration when choosing a logging framework is its reputation in the development community. Established logging frameworks that have been used for several years often have a wealth of user experiences and reports available. These experiences can serve as valuable insights and help in your decision-making process when choosing between multiple good options.

You should also consider the size and activity level of the framework's community. An active community indicates ongoing development, bug fixes, and support from fellow developers. Check the project's documentation quality and availability of tutorials and community forums or chat channels for assistance with issues.

Some logging framework recommendations

To help you choose the right logging framework, I've curated a list of well-regarded libraries across some of the most popular programming languages and runtimes.

These recommendations are based on a combination of factors including feature richness, ease of integration, performance efficiency, community support, and widespread adoption in their respective language ecosystems.

1. Pino (Node.js)

Pino is the standout logging framework for Node.js, known for its emphasis on high performance structured logging. It is built into the Fastify web framework, but also integrates seamlessly with other popular web frameworks like Express.

Compared to Winston, another popular logging option, Pino is lighter, easier to use, and comes with saner defaults with better performance to boot.

Learn more: A Complete Guide to Pino Logging in Node.js

2. Zerolog, Zap, or Slog (Go)

In the Go ecosystem, Zerolog is renowned for its high-speed logging capabilities and low memory usage, as demonstrated in performance benchmarks, . It defaults to structured JSON logging but provides colorized console output for easier readability in development environments.

For a more customizable alternative, consider Uber's Zap package. A trailblazer in the zero-allocation logging approach, Zap offers a versatile API that caters to a wide array of logging needs. Its flexibility makes it suitable for applications requiring finely-tuned logging configurations.

In Go v1.21, a new slog package was introduced into the standard library to provide structured levelled logging for Go programs.

Slog distinguishes itself by offering both standalone logging capabilities and the option to function solely as a logging frontend helping you decouple your application's logging from being tied to a specific framework

Learn more: Logging in Go with Slog: The Ultimate Guide

3. Monolog (PHP)

Monolog is PHP's most popular logging framework. It has gained significant traction and widespread adoption, being integrated into major PHP application frameworks like Laravel and Symfony to provide a robust logging solution.

It supports various logging formats including JSON, and several handlers for transporting your logs to various destinations. It also adheres to the PSR-3 logger interface (a common PHP interface for logger objects) promotes interoperability and simplifies future transitions to alternative compatible libraries if deemed necessary.

Learn more: How to Get Started with Monolog Logging in PHP

4. SLF4J with Log4J2 or Logback (Java)

Simple Logging Facade for Java (SLF4J) acts as a versatile logging facade, providing a uniform API to various Java logging frameworks. This abstraction layer means you can easily switch between different logging frameworks depending on your needs, without extensive code modifications. Among the SLF4J implementations, both Log4j2 and Logback are prominent. However, Log4j2 distinguishes itself with more active maintenance and superior performance.

Learn more: 10 Best Practices for Logging in Java

5. Loguru or Structlog (Python)

While Python's built-in logging module is quite robust and widely used in the community, its setup and configuration can sometimes be confusing even for simple tasks. If you find the native logging API cumbersome, excellent alternatives to explore are Loguru and Structlog.

Learn more: A Comprehensive Guide to Logging in Python

6. Semantic Logger (Ruby)

Semantic Logger brings structured and context-aware logging capabilities to Ruby applications, going beyond the standard Logger class. It can produce JSON-formatted structured logs and it adheres to Ruby's standard logging interface, which simplifies migration from the standard module.

Learn more: Logging in Ruby: A Comparison of the Top 6 Libraries

Final thoughts

Selecting an appropriate logging framework is a crucial step in your development process, directly affecting how you capture and analyze important events and errors in your application.

I hope that the guidelines and recommendations provided here will help you choose a library that aligns perfectly with your project's needs.

Remember, implementing a logging framework is only the first step. Aggregating and centralizing your logs for effective monitoring and analysis is just as vital. Get more tips on logging dos & don'ts, and log management practices here.

Better Stack can be instrumental in this regard, offering tools for log management, visualization, and alerting to enhance issue tracking and resolution.

Thanks for reading, and happy logging!

Author's avatar
Article by
Ayooluwa Isaiah
Ayo is the Head of Content at Better Stack. His passion is simplifying and communicating complex technical ideas effectively. His work was featured on several esteemed publications including, Digital Ocean, and CSS-Tricks. When he’s not writing or coding, he loves to travel, bike, and play tennis.
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