Friday, November 01, 2013

Protocol buffers for logging?

I'd always thought of Protocol Buffers as an on-the-wire structured message format only, but using them for logs seems head-smackingly useful. I'm a little ashamed I didn't think of it before, especially because their description clearly states:

Google uses Protocol Buffers for almost all of its internal RPC protocols and file formats.

Adam D'Angelo's answer on Quora was what finally made me twig.

There are probably limitations, many of them surely similar to the criticisms levelled at systemd's journal, but for logs meant to be re-consumed by machines — before presentation to a human perhaps — I think they're interesting to consider. For example, MAAS's logging is due some love in the coming months as part of our efforts to make it much easier to debug.