Monday, February 12, 2007

Printing Stack Trace in Java

Quite often, developers use the statement exception.printStackTrace() to print the stack trace on to the console. It is important to remember that printStackTrace method prints the stack trace to the System.Err stream and not the System.Out stream.
Due to this, there are a lot of exception stacks getting printed in the System.Err files on the application server, but we do not see any trace of it in the Log4J files or System.out files !!!!

As a best practice, I strongly recommend not using e.printStackTrace() in production code. If the project is using Log4J, then the method 'Logger.error(message, exception)' would print the stack trace to all the registered appenders.

Alternatively, I have written a utility method that would return the stack trace as String. Please use this method if you want to get a stacktrace as a string for more flexibility in printing.


* Gets the exception stack trace as a string.
* @param exception
* @return
public String getStackTraceAsString(Exception exception)
StringWriter sw = new StringWriter();
PrintWriter pw = new PrintWriter(sw);
pw.print(" [ ");
pw.print(" ] ");
return sw.toString();

But what if there is already production code that uses e.printStackTrace() and System.out and you want to redirect them to the Log Files. In that case, we can make use of the System.setOut() and System.setErr() methods. Also try the LoggingOutputStream class in the contribs/JimMoore folder of the log4j release.