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Side Jobs: Log Hound Javascript Logger

Name: Log Hound
Site: http://code.google.com/p/facets-loghound/
Language: JavaScript

JavaScript.  Logging.  Why is that so hard to understand?   Maybe I should start at the beginning.

In some of the positions I’ve held over the past few years, I’ve had occasion to really dive deep into JavaScript.  Very, very deep.  Eval deep.  Since my primary language is Java, I have grown used to the myriad tools that make my coding life easier, of which logging frameworks provide the largest benefit aside from run-time debuggers.  It’s nice to know exactly what your code is thinking as it displays all your customers’ private information on your public web site due to a misplaced semi-colon.

The first time I decided to come up with something better than “alert()” (and lets face it, who hasn’t had that thought?), Firebug was still in its infancy and the Venkman Debugger was your best bet for trying to figure out why your über-complex scripts kept asking about some woman named Sarah Connor.  I needed to know what the script was doing in both IE and Firefox and alert() was just chewing up my time by forcing me to constantly hit the “OK” button to see the next alert.  Let’s face it – the JavaScript alert function is nothing but an annoying time sink of a way of runtime debugging your code.

The second time I had major JavaScript work to do, I already had the base code from the first time and figured if I was going to go through this again, I might as well finally finish the code and then open source it, if only because writing it a third time was going to be a pain.

Granted, there are a few JavaScript loggers out there, and if you develop on Firefox, there’s always Firebug’s console.log().  If you have to work with multiple browsers, however, you have to go with the cross-platform loggers.  Of those, I found these:

  1. fvlogger: Aside from being a dead project (I can find no mention of it past 2006), it was very anemic in functionality.  Pretty icons, though…
  2. JSLog: Also a dead project.  Also seems more like a quick proof-of-concept rather than a serious effort.
  3. Blackbird:  Ok, now we’re talking!  Floating div, looks nice, geeks always go for the stylish black… and that’s it.  Still no feature love.
  4. jsTracer: Another dead project (2006).   Only three levels.  Uses frames.  Basic mono-filter.  Again, features just are not there.
  5. log4javascript:  Hey!  Look – features!  What a concept!  Some really nice features too, and last updated in March of 2009.  Porting the Log4j paradigm to JavaScript land, though?  Seriously?  We’ll mark this one as “competition”…
  6. Kingfishers:  Last update was 33 hours ago, so at least it is being actively worked on.  Open up the demo and….Chinese.  Everything is in Chinese.   That’s… not helpful.

What does this tell us?  It seems to suggest that there was some kind of K-T extinction event of JavaScript Debuggers in 2006.   It also means that the Battle of the JavaScript Loggers is just getting started.  So here we go folks – I’m throwing my hat in the ring.  Log Hound is the culmination of years of procrastination and tens of managers asking me why I was wasting their time, and with an endorsement like that, how could it not be good?

Currently in beta form, version 2.0 of Log Hound is stable enough to use regularly.  The project is being hosted on Google Code where I’m thinking of dumping a whole bunch of other “Side Jobs” I’ve been working on as well.   Let me know what you think (all two of my readers), and be sure to log bugs if you use it and find something amiss.  Happy coding!

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