66. Logging

Spring Boot has no mandatory logging dependence, except for the commons-logging API, of which there are many implementations to choose from. To use Logback you need to include it, and some bindings for commons-logging on the classpath. The simplest way to do that is through the starter poms which all depend on spring-boot-starter-logging. For a web application you only need spring-boot-starter-web since it depends transitively on the logging starter. For example, using Maven:


Spring Boot has a LoggingSystem abstraction that attempts to configure logging based on the content of the classpath. If Logback is available it is the first choice.

If the only change you need to make to logging is to set the levels of various loggers then you can do that in application.properties using the "logging.level" prefix, e.g.


You can also set the location of a file to log to (in addition to the console) using "logging.file".

To configure the more fine-grained settings of a logging system you need to use the native configuration format supported by the LoggingSystem in question. By default Spring Boot picks up the native configuration from its default location for the system (e.g. classpath:logback.xml for Logback), but you can set the location of the config file using the "logging.config" property.

66.1 Configure Logback for logging

If you put a logback.xml in the root of your classpath it will be picked up from there. Spring Boot provides a default base configuration that you can include if you just want to set levels, e.g.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
    <include resource="org/springframework/boot/logging/logback/base.xml"/>
    <logger name="org.springframework.web" level="DEBUG"/>

If you look at the default logback.xml in the spring-boot jar you will see that it uses some useful System properties which the LoggingSystem takes care of creating for you. These are:

  • ${PID} the current process ID.
  • ${LOG_FILE} if logging.file was set in Boot’s external configuration.
  • ${LOG_PATH} if logging.path was set (representing a directory for log files to live in).

Spring Boot also provides some nice ANSI colour terminal output on a console (but not in a log file) using a custom Logback converter. See the default base.xml configuration for details.

If Groovy is on the classpath you should be able to configure Logback with logback.groovy as well (it will be given preference if present).

66.2 Configure Log4j for logging

Spring Boot also supports either Log4j or Log4j 2 for logging configuration, but only if one of them is on the classpath. If you are using the starter poms for assembling dependencies that means you have to exclude Logback and then include your chosen version of Log4j instead. If you aren’t using the starter poms then you need to provide commons-logging (at least) in addition to your chosen version of Log4j.

The simplest path is probably through the starter poms, even though it requires some jiggling with excludes, .e.g. in Maven:


To use Log4j 2, simply depend on spring-boot-starter-log4j2 rather than spring-boot-starter-log4j.


The use of one of the Log4j starters gathers together the dependencies for common logging requirements (e.g. including having Tomcat use java.util.logging but configuring the output using Log4j or Log4j 2). See the Actuator Log4j or Log4j 2 samples for more detail and to see it in action.

66.2.1 Use YAML or JSON to configure Log4j 2

In addition to its default XML configuration format, Log4j 2 also supports YAML and JSON configuration files. To configure Log4j 2 to use an alternative configuration file format all you need to do is add an appropriate dependency to the classpath. To use YAML, add a dependency on com.fasterxml.jackson.dataformat:jackson-dataformat-yaml and Log4j 2 will look for configuration files names log4j2.yaml or log4j2.yml. To use JSON, add a dependency on com.fasterxml.jackson.core:jackson-databind and Log4j 2 will look for configuration files named log4j2.json or log4j2.jsn