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Przemysław Górecki
Przemysław Górecki

Posted on • Originally published at dddinpython.com

How to track request logs using correlation id

Some time ago I stumbled across an interesting problem. In a Python web app, I wanted to add a correlation_id to each log produced by the request handler. This would allow me to easily capture all the logs that happen within a request, even if requests are being processed concurrently:

[480f4c31-3ceb-45be-afda-5676e59cc391 info] RegisterUserCommand handling started
[480f4c31-3ceb-45be-afda-5676e59cc391 info] Processing RegisterUserCommand command with params {'name': 'Alice', ...}
[249ae775-845d-456c-ab71-48776fcad938 info] RegisterUserCommand handling started
[249ae775-845d-456c-ab71-48776fcad938 info] Processing RegisterUserCommand command with params {'name': 'Bob', ...}
[249ae775-845d-456c-ab71-48776fcad938 info] RegisterUserCommand handling completed
[480f4c31-3ceb-45be-afda-5676e59cc391 warn] RegisterUserCommand handling failed
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As you can see, without correlation_id it is impossible to tell from the logs which command has failed.

So how can we deal with this problem? This sounds easy at the beginning. We could simply instantiate a logger when route handling starts, easy peasy:

import uuid

class Logger:
  """Not a real logger, but it is enough for the purpose of this post"""
  def __init__(self, correlation_id):
    self.correlation_id = correlation_id

  def info(self, *args, **kwargs):
    print(f'[{self.correlation_id} info]', *args, **kwargs)

@app.post("/register")
def register(payload):
    logger = Logger(uuid.uuid4())
    logger.info("Registering user", payload)
    ...
    return {"result": "OK"}
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The first problem with the above code is that you need to add logger = Logger(uuid.uuid4()) to every route handler. We can solve this problem by injecting the logger into the handler function. How you do it depends on a framework, but let’s use a create_logger factory function for now.

def create_logger(): 
  logger = Logger(uuid.uuid4())

@app.post("/register")
def register(payload, logger = create_logger()):
    logger.info("Registering user", payload)
    return {"result": "OK"}
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As a result, with each request, a new logger instance (containing a unique id) will be created. Let’s move on and add more dependencies (DatabaseEngine, UserService) to our handler:

class DatabaseEngine:
  def __init__(self, logger:Logger):
    self.logger = logger   
    ...
  def connect(self):
    ...
  def execute(self, query):
    self.logger.info('Executing DB query...')
    ...

class UserService:
  def __init__(self, logger:Logger, db_engine:DatabaseEngine):
    self.logger = logger
    self.db = db_engine
  def register(self, payload):
    self.logger.info('RegisterUserCommand handling started for', payload)
    self.db.execute(...)
    time.sleep(1)
    self.logger.info('RegisterUserCommand handling completed for', payload)

def create_user_service():
  logger = Logger(uuid.uuid4())
  db_engine = DatabaseEngine(logger)
  db_engine.connect()
  user_service = UserService(logger=logger, db_engine=db_engine)
  return user_service

@app.post("/register")
def register(payload, service:UserService = create_user_service()):
    logger = service.logger # ugh!
    logger.info("Registering user", payload)
    result = service.register(payload)
    return {"result": result}
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Here is the second problem. Since a logger is a dependency for both UserService and DatabaseEngine, we must create a logger first. Moreover, since we instantiate a logger with every request, every other object that depends on a logger must be instantiated with every request as well. So having a global db_engine object is not an option unless we give up on a per-request logger in favor of a global logger, which is something we don’t want to do. Instantiating a whole dependency graph for the application on every request just because of the per-request logger seems like overkill in terms of performance and resource management. If you think that “there must be a better way” you are right. Let’s explore our options.

Global logger

Why do we need a per-request logger anyway? The official Python logging cookbook says:

While it might be tempting to create Logger instances on a per-connection basis, this is not a good idea because these instances are not garbage collected [source]

If we make correlation_id a global variable, then a logger could be a global object (or singleton if you prefer), referencing this global variable. As a result, both db_engine and servive could use the global logger, which means that the entire dependency graph could be constructed at once, on the application startup.

correlation_id = None

class Logger:
  def info(self, *args, **kwargs):
    print(f'[{correlation_id} info]', *args, **kwargs)

# application startup
logger = Logger()
db_engine = DatabaseEngine(logger)
db_engine.connect()

def create_user_service():
  user_service = UserService(logger=logger, db_engine=db_engine)
  return user_service

@app.post("/register")
def register(payload, service:UserService = create_user_service()):
    global correlation_id
    correlation_id = uuid.uuid4() # we need to generate new uuid for each request
    logger.info("Registering user", payload)
    result = service.register(payload)
    return {"result": result}
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This approach is naive and it will work only if the requests are processed sequentially, one after another. No multithreading, no concurrency is possible here. If Thread-2 changes correlation_id, while Thread-1 is still processing its own request, logs will be corrupted. Let's simulate this behavior:

threads = [
           threading.Thread(target=register, args=(payload,)) 
           for payload in ['Alice', 'Bob']
          ]

for thread in threads:
  thread.start()

for thread in threads:
  thread.join()
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As expected, the logs are completely messed up:

[e2931dc9-ca83-4d79-9cfc-23aba03d264a info] Registering user Alice
[e2931dc9-ca83-4d79-9cfc-23aba03d264a info] RegisterUserCommand handling started for Alice
[605e6790-387a-4fbe-ba08-874b57f8e0d6 info] Registering user Bob
[605e6790-387a-4fbe-ba08-874b57f8e0d6 info] RegisterUserCommand handling started for Bob
[605e6790-387a-4fbe-ba08-874b57f8e0d6 info] Executing DB query...
[605e6790-387a-4fbe-ba08-874b57f8e0d6 info] Executing DB query...
[605e6790-387a-4fbe-ba08-874b57f8e0d6 info] RegisterUserCommand handling completed for Bob
[605e6790-387a-4fbe-ba08-874b57f8e0d6 info] RegisterUserCommand handling completed for Alice
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Thread context to the rescue

If we will be processing incoming requests using threads, we could use Python's threading.local() to store thread-specific information, correlation_id in our case.

class ContextLogger:
  """
  This time we have a logger which is using threading.local()
  """
  def __init__(self, thread_context):
    self.thread_context = thread_context

  def info(self, *args, **kwargs):
    print(f'[{self.thread_context.correlation_id} info]', *args, **kwargs)


request_context = threading.local()
logger = ContextLogger(request_context)

...

@app.post("/register")
def register(payload, service:UserService = create_user_service()):
    request_context.correlation_id = uuid.uuid4() # we store new uuid per thread
    ...
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Context Variables

We can use a conceptually similar approach when dealing with coroutines. If our framework supports concurrent requests running in a single thread via async/await calls, we need to use ContextVars instead of threading.local. This is due to the event loop running in a single thread. Here is the updated version of the logger:

class ConcurrentContextLogger:
  def __init__(self, correlation_id: ContextVar):
    self.correlation_id = correlation_id

  def info(self, *args, **kwargs):
    print(f'[{self.correlation_id.get()} info]', *args, **kwargs)

correlation_id: ContextVar[uuid.UUID] = ContextVar('correlation_id', default=uuid.UUID('00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000000'))
logger = ConcurrentContextLogger(correlation_id)

...

@app.post("/register")
async def register(payload, service:UserService = create_user_service()):
    correlation_id.set(uuid.uuid4()) # we store new uuid per coroutine
    ...
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Bonus

So far, we have used a dummy logger to mimic the functionality of a real logger. This is how we can add a correlation_id to the logging.logger instance:

class ContextFilter(logging.Filter):
    def filter(self, record):
        record.correlation_id = correlation_id.get()
        return True  


logging.basicConfig(
  level=logging.DEBUG,
  format='%(asctime)-15s %(name)-5s %(levelname)-8s %(correlation_id)s %(message)s'
)

context_filter = ContextFilter()
logger = logging.getLogger('app')
logger.addFilter(context_filter)

logger.info('Hello World!')
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Demo

If you want to play with the code, I've prepared a repl for you: https://replit.com/@pgorecki/request-logger?v=1

Have fun logging!


This article was first published in DDD in Python.

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