Papertrail is a great centralized logging service you can use for distributed systems that have numerous processes creating numerous log files, across numerous hosts. Having all your logs in one place, live tail-able, searchable, and archived is key to debugging such systems in production.
There are a few ways to set it up, as documented on their quick start page, such as a system-wide installation via Chef, or configuring your app to use the syslog protocol. They also provide a convenient Ruby gem called remote_syslog that can be configured to read a configured set of log files and send them to Papertrail.
I’ve found for simple Ruby project structures, it can often be easier to deploy Papertrail by installing this gem with Bundler via your project Gemfile, and then creating a simple set of Rake tasks to manage starting and stopping the service. This way it’s self-contained within your application repository, gets deployed with the same mechanism you deploy your application code, and can be used on your development and staging systems just as easily, without any Chef cookbooks or other configuration hassle.
I typically build most of my production deployment with modular Rake tasks. This way your Capistrano/OpsWorks/Chef/whatever deployment tools can invoke Rake tasks – and you can use these same tasks manually on production and development systems alike.
I have a
papertrail.rake in my rake-tasks repository on GitHub that demonstrates how I use this. The contents are shown below, but the rest of the repository demonstrates the other required ingredients, such as a the papertrail config file. With this file in your
tasks directory, and the
remote_syslog gem in your
Gemfile, you now have access to three simple tasks:
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You can now manually start logging to Papertrail with
rake papertrail:start…or you can hook up the start/stop tasks to your automated deployment tools.
Here are the contents of the main rakefile for this. See the rake-tasks repository for example config file, Gemfile, and directory structure.
The papertrail.rake File
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