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Structured logging in C#



Logging is an important part of software development as it helps developers understand the flow of code and diagnose issues. It’s a nightmare to investigate issues without proper logs. Today we need a more sophisticated logging mechanism as traditional text-based logging has drawbacks especially when it comes to search and query. Structured logging comes into play and standardizes the way of logging.

Understanding Traditional Logging

Traditional logging in C# often involves recording simple string messages. For instance:

logger.LogInformation("User " + userId + " logged in at " + DateTime.Now);

While this method is straightforward, it has limitations. It generates a plain string, making it challenging to filter or query logs. As applications scale, parsing these text logs becomes cumbersome and inefficient.

The Advantages of Structured Logging

Structured logging, in contrast, logs information as structured data (like JSON). This approach makes it easier to search and analyze logs. It keeps the data type intact, enabling better filtering and querying capabilities, essential for modern log management tools.

Implementing Structured Logging in C#

To implement structured logging in C#, you can use libraries such as Serilog or NLog. Here’s a basic setup with Serilog:

var log = new LoggerConfiguration()
log.Information("User {UserId} logged in at {LoggedInAt}", userId, DateTime.Now);

This code snippet demonstrates how structured logging preserves the data format and makes logs more readable and informative.

Code Examples and Comparison

Traditional Logging:

logger.LogInformation("User " + userId + " logged in at " + DateTime.Now);

Structured Logging with Serilog:

log.Information("User {UserId} logged in at {LoggedInAt}", userId, DateTime.Now);

The difference is clear. Structured logging maintains the data structure, whereas traditional logging converts everything into a string.

String Interpolation vs Structured Logging:

With string interpolation:

logger.LogInformation($"User {userId} logged in at {DateTime.Now}");

While string interpolation is cleaner than concatenation, it still doesn’t offer the structured, queryable format that structured logging does.

Section 5: Analyzing the Output

Traditional logging might output a log like:

User 12345 logged in at 01/10/2024 10:00:00

Structured logging, on the other hand, would produce:

"UserId": 12345,
"LoggedInAt": "2024-01-10T10:00:00"

The structured format is more readable and easier to analyze programmatically.

Section 6: Best Practices and Tips

When using structured logging:

  • Keep your log data structured and consistent.
  • Avoid logging sensitive information.
  • Do not over-log; log only what is necessary for debugging and monitoring.

Section 7: Resources for Further Learning


Structured logging is a powerful tool in the arsenal of a modern C# developer. It offers clarity, efficiency, and better data analysis capabilities compared to traditional logging methods. As you develop your programming skills, integrating structured logging into your projects will not only ease the debugging process but also prepare you for handling complex, large-scale applications.