Customizing log4j logging on JBoss

I want to turn up the logging level on JBoss so that I can verify that the transactional AOP advice runs before the Spring-security-context-populatin’ advice.  The reason being, I want to make sure we’re already in a transaction if something goes wrong in the security context advice, so the message will get rolled back onto the queue.

To be more precise, I want to turn up the logging level on the right categories of classes — my server/default/log/server.log is already 190MB today, and Notepad and Eclipse are having trouble opening it.

The Packages I want to log about

For the first round, I want to see DEBUG-level messages for my Spring-security-context-populatin’ advice (the com.ontsys.advice package in my prototype) and the org.springframework.transaction.jta package.

Adding Logging to my Class

First, I need to add logging to my class — it currently doesn’t log any messages.

Adding logging to a class is simple:

import org.apache.log4j.Logger;
public class MyClass {
    private static final Logger LOGGER = Logger.getLogger(MyClass.class); 

    public void decombobulate() {

Configuring jboss-log4j.xml

The Logging Conventions chapter of the JBoss Development Process Guide (see also the Logging page on the JBoss Wiki) explains how to log certain categories to a different file.

Only instead of  ${jboss.server.home.dir}/log/ I’ll use more elegant ${jboss.server.log.dir}/ .

Everything in its Proper Place

Note that according to the log4j 1.2.15 DTD, the elements have to be ordered with all appenders first, followed by categories, and then the root element:

<!ELEMENT log4j:configuration (renderer*, appender*,plugin*, (category|logger)*,root?,


Note also that there is an additivity attribute you can use on the on the appenders.  The section called Redirecting Category Output has this to say about the additivity attribute:

The additivity attribute controls whether output continues to go to the root category appender. If false, output only goes to the appenders referred to by the category.

That would explain why my main server/default/log/server.log was so small the other time I tried adding a category appender — I think I had additivity=”false” from an example configuration I found somewhere, without understanding what it meant — so output that was going to my special log file was no longer going to my server.log file.

The DTD says that the additivity attribute defaults to “true” though, which is what I want, so I’m leaving it out.

My Changes to jboss-log4j.xml

Here’s what I eventually came up with:

<appender name="AdviceLog" class="org.apache.log4j.FileAppender">
<errorHandler class="org.jboss.logging.util.OnlyOnceErrorHandler" />
<param name="Append" value="false" />
<param name="File" value="${jboss.server.log.dir}/advice.log" />
<layout class="org.apache.log4j.PatternLayout">
<param name="ConversionPattern" value="%d %-5p &#91;%c&#93; %m%n" />
<category name="com.ontsys.advice">
<priority value="DEBUG" />
<appender-ref ref="AdviceLog" />
<category name="org.springframework.transaction.jta">
<priority value="DEBUG" />
<appender-ref ref="AdviceLog" />


This worked great!  Only stuff from the com.ontsys.advice and org.springframework.transaction.jta packages in the advice.log, at the DEBUG level.

For Next Time

At first the advice.log file was getting way too much information… but we’ll stop here for the moment!


2 thoughts on “Customizing log4j logging on JBoss

  1. I am having trouble doing the same thing. Did you have to add the AdviceLog appender to the root?

    <appender-ref ref=”CONSOLE”/>
    <appender-ref ref=”FILE”/>
    <appender-ref ref=”AdviceLog”/>

  2. James,

    I’ll have to guess since I’m not set up with that environment at the moment, but I believe that when I added the AdviceLog appender to the root loggers it received all log messages instead of just the ones for the categories I specified (see my brief write-up about that).

    I believe that the Category/Priority nomenclature was deprecated in favor of Logger/Level terminology. At the time I wrote this article, Category/Priority still worked (I didn’t realize at first that it was deprecated) but maybe by now support for it has been dropped. That’s the direction I would look.

    Hope this helps!

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