Sunday, November 17, 2013

This handy Trace Log Trick Makes Troubleshooting Content Server EASY!

This article will introduce an indispensible tool that you've probably been using for a while... but chances are - you, (just like me) have been using it the WRONG way!

Don’t you just wish there was more to a Trace Log than 1..15 min worth of Content Server output printed on a web page? Well, I bet this is what you have used up to now, but have had no notion just how much more useful it can be if you used it correctly!

The great news is that you are in command of the situation in more than scrubbing the surface! You can log every single command, service call and nearly any internal Content Server process that happen during the normal use or the initialization stage. Need I say that you will never miss a heartbeat, including any configuration or custom component issue, after using this tool in the above fashion?

How to Maximise on the Tool

Under System Audit Information page (Administration Tray) there is a treasure-trove of sections, each of which can give you just the information you're looking for in that moment. The tool gives you a long list of sections that you can monitor.

Now the nice thing about it is that it also allows you to use wildcards. For instance, if you're going after an indexer issue, you may just simply say "indexer*" in the Active Sections box - instead of manually specifying multiple sections. Sweet! No longer you’re forced to scan through a list of sections.

And this is how I've been using for years, assuming that, oh, well, it’s far from perfect, but it’s still is an awesome tool and you really can't do without.

Now for a taste of novelty in the use of the Trace Log! Up to now, I have been wandering in the admin desert where I have resigned to the fact that I'm stuck with the dumb web page output that is limited to just a small part of the output. How wrong I have been in my delusion!... Until last week when I came across this article by Kyle Hatlestad.

Indeed, here you can learn how third-party tools that write to the Trace Log instead of the real log file are performing on the sidelines. Here is how:

What Kyle (and the guys in the comments section) have pointed out, is that Unix Content Server installations have been writing the trace log output to a file for eons of years (in the Internet calendar of course!) So I you're running a 10g Content Server on Linux or Solaris - check out your etc directory under your Content Server installation (See screenshot below).

Now if running on Windows - you need to first enable the "Output Redirection" as shown below

And hurray, the IdcServerNT.log pops up for you to use and analyze using your favourite tools! All output is now yours too, not just the few minutes worth of most recent output.

And shoud I mention that none of these is an issue for 11g and newevrer systems running on weblogic application server? The trace logs will automatically collected for you under data/trace directory of your Content Server instance directory (See screenshot below)

Well it is time to close shop. Check it out and let me know how working on a true log file (or files) using your favourite analyzer tool makes you feel - compared with that crippled grumpy admin staring at the last 15 min worh of output in a browser window!