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§The Logging API

Using logging in your application can be useful for monitoring, debugging, error tracking, and business intelligence. Play uses SLF4J as a logging facade with Logback as the default logging engine.

§Logging architecture

The logging API uses a set of components that help you to implement an effective logging strategy.


Your application can define loggers to send log message requests. Each logger has a name which will appear in log messages and is used for configuration.

Loggers follow a hierarchical inheritance structure based on their naming. A logger is said to be an ancestor of another logger if its name followed by a dot is the prefix of descendant logger name. For example, a logger named “” is the ancestor of a logger named “” All loggers inherit from a root logger. Logger inheritance allows you to configure a set of loggers by configuring a common ancestor.

We recommend creating separately-named loggers for each class. Following this convention, the Play libraries use loggers namespaced under “play”, and many third party libraries will have loggers based on their class names.

§Log levels

Log levels are used to classify the severity of log messages. When you write a log request statement you will specify the severity and this will appear in generated log messages.

This is the set of available log levels, in decreasing order of severity.

In addition to classifying messages, log levels are used to configure severity thresholds on loggers and appenders. For example, a logger set to level INFO will log any request of level INFO or higher (INFO, WARN, ERROR) but will ignore requests of lower severities (DEBUG, TRACE). Using OFF will ignore all log requests.


The logging API allows logging requests to print to one or many output destinations called “appenders.” Appenders are specified in configuration and options exist for the console, files, databases, and other outputs.

Appenders combined with loggers can help you route and filter log messages. For example, you could use one appender for a logger that logs useful data for analytics and another appender for errors that is monitored by an operations team.

Note: For further information on architecture, see the Logback documentation.

§Using Loggers

First import the Logger class:

import org.slf4j.Logger;
import org.slf4j.LoggerFactory;

§Creating loggers

You can create a new logger using the LoggerFactory with a name argument:

final Logger accessLogger = LoggerFactory.getLogger("access");

A common strategy for logging application events is to use a distinct logger per class using the class name. The logging API supports this with a factory method that takes a class argument:

final Logger log = LoggerFactory.getLogger(this.getClass());

You can then use the Logger to write log statements:

// Log some debug info
logger.debug("Attempting risky calculation.");

try {
  final int result = riskyCalculation();

  // Log result if successful
  logger.debug("Result={}", result);
} catch (Throwable t) {
  // Log error with message and Throwable.
  logger.error("Exception with riskyCalculation", t);

Using Play’s default logging configuration, these statements will produce console output similar to this:

[debug] c.e.s.MyClass - Attempting risky calculation.
[error] c.e.s.MyClass - Exception with riskyCalculation
java.lang.ArithmeticException: / by zero
    at controllers.Application.riskyCalculation( ~[classes/:na]
    at controllers.Application.index( ~[classes/:na]
    at Routes$$anonfun$routes$1$$anonfun$applyOrElse$1$$anonfun$apply$1.apply(routes_routing.scala:69) [classes/:na]
    at Routes$$anonfun$routes$1$$anonfun$applyOrElse$1$$anonfun$apply$1.apply(routes_routing.scala:69) [classes/:na]
    at play.core.Router$HandlerInvoker$$anon$8$$anon$2.invocation(Router.scala:203) [play_2.10-2.3-M1.jar:2.3-M1]

Note that the messages have the log level, logger name (in this case the class name, displayed in abbreviated form), message, and stack trace if a Throwable was used in the log request.

There are also play.Logger static methods that allow you to access a logger named application, but their use is deprecated in Play 2.7.0 and above. You should declare your own logger instances using one of the strategies defined above.

§Using Markers

The SLF4J API has a concept of markers, which act to enrich logging messages and mark out messages as being of special interest. Markers are especially useful for triggering and filtering – for example, OnMarkerEvaluator can send an email when a marker is seen, or particular flows can be marked out to their own appenders.

Markers can be extremely useful, because they can carry extra contextual information for loggers. For example, using Logstash Logback Encoder, request information can be encoded into logging statements automatically:

import static net.logstash.logback.marker.Markers.append;

private Marker requestMarker(Http.Request request) {
  return append("host","path", request.path()));

public Result index(Http.Request request) {, "Rendering index()");
  return ok("foo");

Note that markers are also very useful for “tracer bullet” style logging, where you want to log on a specific request without explicitly changing log levels. For example, you can add a marker only when certain conditions are met:

public class JavaTracerController extends Controller {

  private final org.slf4j.Logger logger = org.slf4j.LoggerFactory.getLogger(this.getClass());

  private static final Marker tracerMarker = org.slf4j.MarkerFactory.getMarker("TRACER");

  private Marker tracer(Http.Request request) {
    Marker marker = MarkerFactory.getDetachedMarker("dynamic"); // base do-nothing marker...
    request.queryString("trace").ifPresent(s -> marker.add(tracerMarker));
    return marker;

  public Result index(Http.Request request) {
    logger.trace(tracer(request), "Only logged if queryString contains trace=true");
    return ok("hello world");

And then trigger logging with the following TurboFilter in logback.xml:

<turboFilter class="ch.qos.logback.classic.turbo.MarkerFilter">

At which point you can dynamically set debug statements in response to input.

For more information about using Markers in logging, see TurboFilters and marker based triggering sections in the Logback manual.

§Logging patterns

Effective use of loggers can help you achieve many goals with the same tool:

import org.slf4j.Logger;
import org.slf4j.LoggerFactory;
import play.mvc.Action;
import play.mvc.Controller;
import play.mvc.Http;
import play.mvc.Http.Request;
import play.mvc.Result;
import play.mvc.With;
import java.util.concurrent.CompletionStage;

public class Application extends Controller {

  private static final Logger logger = LoggerFactory.getLogger(Application.class);

  public Result index() {
    try {
      final int result = riskyCalculation();
      return ok("Result=" + result);
    } catch (Throwable t) {
      logger.error("Exception with riskyCalculation", t);
      return internalServerError("Error in calculation: " + t.getMessage());

  private static int riskyCalculation() {
    return 10 / (new java.util.Random()).nextInt(2);

class AccessLoggingAction extends Action.Simple {

  private static final Logger accessLogger = LoggerFactory.getLogger(AccessLoggingAction.class);

  public CompletionStage<Result> call(Http.Request request) {
        "method={} uri={} remote-address={}",


This example uses action composition to define an AccessLoggingAction that will log request data to a logger named “access.” The Application controller uses this action and it also uses its own logger (named after its class) for application events. In configuration you could then route these loggers to different appenders, such as an access log and an application log.

The above design works well if you want to log request data for only specific actions. To log all requests, it’s better to use a filter or extend play.http.DefaultHttpRequestHandler.


See configuring logging for details on configuration.

Next: Advanced topics