Geek Quickies

Stories from the cloudvergence.

Using Eclipse Templates to Ease Android Logging

Adding logs to your Android source code is sometimes the only way to really understand what happens , especially in asynchronous situations.

If you are lazy like me, you may insert lazy logs like this one:

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  Log.v("#LOOK#", "onStart()");

Instead of having less lazy code like:

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public class SomeActivity extends Activity {
  private static final String LOG_TAG = SomeActivity.class
          .getSimpleName();
  private static final int LOG_LEVEL = Log.VERBOSE;
...

    @Override
    public void onStart() {
      if (LOG_LEVEL <= Log.VERBOSE)
          Log.v(LOG_TAG, "onStart()");

But Eclipse can easily help you to avoid this and then the need to clean up your code after debbuging.

Everybody uses content assist in Eclipse. The CTRL+Space shortcut alleviates us from the need to type all those long field and method names that come out of our imagination. With the Templates feature, it can even write code for us.

Templates are editable in the preferences. To see them, select Window > Preferences and then in the preferences dialog, Java > Editor > Templates. The window looks like this:

If you double click on a template you can edit it:

The template name is what you type in the Editor window before hitting CTRL+Space and that will make Eclipse propose you the template. I won’t go into a full explanation of the syntax of the templates, but basically the template name is replaced by the template pattern and the content between the ${} is replaced either by what you type or by values computed by existing macros. DZone gives you a good Visual Guide to Template listing most common macros.

Now we can create our templates for both adding the Log declarations at the beginning of our class as well as templates for inserting conditionally ran logs.

For the header, we create a template named alh in Java types member context with the following pattern:

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${:import(android.util.Log)}private static final String LOG_TAG = ${enclosing_type}.class.getSimpleName();
private static final int LOG_LEVEL = Log.${level};
${cursor}

The different ${} mean:

  • ${:import(android.util.Log)}: make sure android.util.Log is imported.
  • ${enclosing_type}: insert the name of the type (class) we’re in.
  • ${level}: when inserting, put the cursor here and wait for the user to enter the level variable.
  • ${cursor}: leave the cursor here when the user hits the ENTER key.

With this template, inserting the log headers in a class is achievied with the following steps:

  • type alh and hit STRL+Space.
  • select the template (first choice) and hit ENTER
  • enter the desired log level (DEBUG for instance) for the class and hit ENTER.
  • continue coding.

This is much simpler than copy-pasting the code from another class and replacing the class name and log level.

The following template, named alv in the Java statement context is for inserting verbose logs:

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if (LOG_LEVEL <= Log.VERBOSE)
  Log.v(LOG_TAG, "${enclosing_method}() ${}");
${cursor}

The nice thing is that it inserts the name of the current method and wait just after for your debug message. Just typing Enter will leave a log like:

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 if (LOG_LEVEL <= Log.VERBOSE)
      Log.v(LOG_TAG, "onStart() ");

Wich may be just enough.

On this model, you can create ali, ald, ale templates for the different debug levels, or if you want to use String.format() templates like :

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if (LOG_LEVEL <= Log.DEBUG)
  Log.d(LOG_TAG, String.format("${enclosing_method}() ${}", ${args}));
${cursor}

Just adapt them to your needs.

Once you have finished debugging, if you change the LOG_LEVEL of your class from let’s say VERBOSE to INFO, all the alv templates you’ve entered will become dead code as the if surrounding the log lines is always false. This is because it compares static variables, and this is just what we want. When we compile for delivery, we want the compiler to optimize out all this code from the binary.

However, the Java compiler will generate warnings for that. As it is not possible to surround the log with a @SuppressWarnings() attribute, you may want to change the error level of dead code from Warning to Ignore. This is done in Window > Preferences, Java > Compiler > Error/Warnings > Potential programming problems.

When it’s time for delivery, you may want to change the LOG_LEVEL of all classes to a particular value. To do that, I personally use a slightly modified version of the alh header template:

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${:import(android.util.Log,com.eurosport.player.constants.DebugConstants)}private static final String LOG_TAG = ${enclosing_type}.class.getSimpleName();
private static final int LOG_LEVEL_LOCAL = Log.${level};
private static final int LOG_LEVEL = DebugConstants.LOG_FORCE_GLOBAL * DebugConstants.LOG_LEVEL + (1 - DebugConstants.LOG_FORCE_GLOBAL) * LOG_LEVEL_LOCAL;
${cursor}

That works with the DebugConstants interface :

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public interface DebugConstants {
  public static final int LOG_LEVEL = Log.INFO;
  public static final int LOG_FORCE_GLOBAL = 0;
}

The way the modified alh template works is the following:

  • if the value of DebugConstants.LOG_FORCE_GLOBAL is 0, the LOG_LEVEL variable contains the value of the LOG_LEVEL_LOCAL variable.
  • if the value of DebugConstants.LOG_FORCE_GLOBAL is 1, the LOG_LEVEL variable contains the value of the DebugConstants.LOG_LEVEL variable.

By having inserted this template in my classes, even if at delivery time some of the LOG_LEVEL_LOCAL values are still set to Log.VERBOSE, by setting LOG_FORCE_GLOBAL to 1, all log levels will be forced to Log.INFO and all the log code for deeper debugging levels will be removed by DCE (Dead Code Elimination).

Now, there’s no more excuses to have sloppy logs in your Android code !

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