Real-time ZF Monitoring via Zend Server

When keeping tabs on your ZF applications, it's often difficult to separate application errors from general PHP errors, and if you aggregate them in the same location as your web server errors, this can become more difficult still.

Additionally, PHP's error reporting doesn't provide a ton of context, even when reporting uncaught exceptions -- typically you'll only get a cryptic exception message, and what file and line emitted it.

Zend Server's Monitor extension has some capabilities for providing more context, and does much of this by default: request and environment settings available when the error was logged, the function name and arguments provided, and a full backtrace are available for you to inspect. Additionally, the Monitor extension includes an API that allows you to trigger custom Monitor events, and you can provide additional context when doing so -- such as passing objects or arrays that may help provide context when debugging.

To tie into this feature, we've developed a new Zend_Log writer, Zend_Log_Writer_ZendMonitor, that will emit such custom events. In addition, some modifications were made to the Zend_Log API to allow passing extra contextual information to log writers.

As an example, you could do the following:

$log = new Zend_Log(new Zend_Log_Writer_ZendMonitor());
$log->crit('Exception occurred processing login', $e);

// or:
$log->crit('Exception occurred processing login', array(
    'request'   => $request, // Request object
    'exception' => $e,       // Exception

Zend Server's GUI would then present a tab, "Custom", that includes the extra arguments passed; by default, if just an object is passed, the information will be returned under the key "info". Passing an associative array is incredibly useful, as it allows you to provide detailed contextual information.

One use case for this feature is to report application exceptions via the ErrorController. This can then provide some great feedback via your Zend Server GUI; you can filter based on a "Rule Name" of "Custom Event", and further on criteria such as Severity to determine when and why your application is hitting the ErrorController -- and hopefully reduce such occurrences.

We thought this might make a good default use case, and have provided some code generation surrounding it in Zend_Tool. The ErrorController will now check to see if a Log resource is available, and if so, write to it.

To make this happen, we've also written a new Log bootstrap resource that piggy-backs on some additional new functionality: a new factory() method in Zend_Log. This allows you to create Zend_Log instances from configuration, with one or more writers and configured filters. Enabling Zend Monitor logging via the ErrorController is now as simple as adding a single line to your configuration:

resources.log.zendmonitor.writerName = \"ZendMonitor\"

Note: you can log to any logger, or multiple loggers if desired.

If, within your controllers, you want to log other events, you can do so by simply grabbing the bootstrap object and then the Log resource:

$bootstrap = $this->getInvokeArg('bootstrap')
if ($bootstrap->hasResource('Log')) {
    $log = $bootstrap->getResource('Log');
    $log->info(/* ... */);

This kind of simple integration leads to some fantastic benefits for Zend Framework users that are using Zend Server, and it's incredibly cheap to implement (the ZendMonitor logger acts as a null logger when the Monitor extension is not present). What other uses can you find to put it to?

Note: this functionality is available now via the Zend Framework subversion repository, in trunk. It will be made available in a stable release with the upcoming 1.10 release.

Update: I'd like to point out that the bootstrap resource was made possible by contributions of two ibuildings contributors, Martin Roest and Mark van der Velden, who contributed code that makes it possible to instantiate log instances via a new factory() method.

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