Logging in asyncio applications

2 minute read

So you are building an asyncio-based application, and like most production-quality systems, you need to log events throughout. Normally, you’d reach for the logging module, but the logging module uses blocking I/O when emitting records.

Or does it?

The framework is very flexible in how records are emitted; it is up to the logging handlers that you install. And since Python 3.2, an interesting new handler has been included, the QueueHandler class, which comes with a corresponding QueueListener class. These were originally developed to handle logging in the child processes of the multiprocessing library, but are otherwise perfectly usable in an asyncio context.

The QueueListener class starts its own thread to watch a queue and send records to handlers it manages, so it will not affect the asyncio loop. The QueueHandler handler implementation simply puts records into the queue you specify, after a minimal clean-up operation to ensure records can be serialised easily. This makes this handler entirely non-blocking.

Move existing handlers to QueueListener

My strategy is simply to move all root handlers to a QueueListener object before the main asyncio loop starts, and placing a QueueHandler object in their place. From there on out, all blocking operations in handlers are handled in a separate thread, freeing the asyncio loop from having to wait for log records to written out to files or network sockets.

I do customise the QueueHandler class a little, but only minimally so: there is no need to prepare records that go into a local, in-process queue, we can skip that process and minimise the cost of logging further:

import logging
import logging.handlers
try:
    # Python 3.7 and newer, fast reentrant implementation
    # witohut task tracking (not needed for that when logging)
    from queue import SimpleQueue as Queue
except ImportError:
    from queue import Queue
from typing import List


class LocalQueueHandler(logging.handlers.QueueHandler):
    def emit(self, record: logging.LogRecord) -> None:
        # Removed the call to self.prepare()
        try:
            self.enqueue(record)
        except Exception:
            self.handleError(record)


def setup_logging_queue() -> None:
    """Move log handlers to a separate thread.

    Replace handlers on the root logger with a LocalQueueHandler,
    and start a logging.QueueListener holding the original
    handlers.

    """
    queue = Queue()
    root = logging.getLogger()

    handlers: List[logging.Handler] = []

    handler = LocalQueueHandler(queue)
    root.addHandler(handler)
    for h in root.handlers[:]:
        if h is not handler:
            root.removeHandler(h)
            handlers.append(h)

    listener = logging.handlers.QueueListener(
        queue, *handlers, respect_handler_level=True
    )
    listener.start()

You could, of course, configure the logging module to use the queue handler to begin with, but I find the above pattern to work better when also using the logging.config to handle handler configuration elsewhere. The above can then simply take an already-configured system and make it suitable for an asyncio environment.

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