There’s two new features in the latest build of BE, 22.214.171.124. These features, Logging and Improved Error Reporting, are separate but related features. I think both features will turn out to be very helpful – especially when trying to diagnose a problem. I’ll explain both features and how they can be used independently of each other, as well as with each other.
There’s a new event handler in BE that any extension or other component can subscribe to: Utils.OnLog. It can be subscribed to in an extension, like:
Utils.OnLog += new EventHandler<EventArgs>(OnLog);
In this case, there’s an OnLog event handler that will fire every time any piece of code in BE.NET logs a message. I created a simple Logger extension that is now included in BE 126.96.36.199 that subscribes to log notifications, and writes the log message to a logger.txt file in the App_Data folder. Anyone can write a similar extension that will save log messages to a database. The code for the this new Logger extension can be viewed below.
Logger Extension 1.0 (view code)
/// Subscribes to Log events and records the events in a file.
[Extension("Subscribes to Log events and records the events in a file.", "1.0", "BlogEngine.NET")]
public class Logger
Utils.OnLog += new EventHandler<EventArgs>(OnLog);
/// The event handler that is triggered every time there is a log notification.
private static void OnLog(object sender, EventArgs e)
if (sender == null || !(sender is string))
string logMsg = (string)sender;
string file = GetFileName();
StringBuilder sb = new StringBuilder();
using (FileStream fs = new FileStream(file, FileMode.Append))
using (StreamWriter sw = new StreamWriter(fs))
sw.WriteLine("Date: " + DateTime.Now.ToString());
// Absorb the error.
private static string _FileName;
private static object _SyncRoot = new object();
private static string GetFileName()
if (_FileName != null)
_FileName = System.Web.Hosting.HostingEnvironment.MapPath(Path.Combine(BlogSettings.Instance.StorageLocation, "logger.txt"));
Any code within BE.NET, a widget, extension, etc. can now log any message like:
Utils.Log("some message to log");
If more than one event handler is subscribed to the OnLog notifications, each event handler will of course fire. It’s worth noting that Utils.Log() accepts a parameter of type object. The Logger extension is designed to receive messages of a string type (it actually casts the object type parameter to a string type). If Logger receives a non-string type, it doesn’t log the message – because the Logger extension is designed to receive simple string-based messages. If an extension or other piece of code wants to pass a non-string type message to a logger, a different extension could be created that is equipped to handle log messages that are of a type different than string.
If you don’t want logging to take place, either because you don’t want to worry about having a log file that keeps growing, or because you prefer not to store data in the App_Data folder (as the Logger extension does), you can simply disable the Logger extension on the Extensions tab in the control panel. As of right now, even if you leave the Logger extension enabled, there’s going to be virtually no messages logged as there isn’t any code that currently calls Utils.Log().
This new logging feature is going to help keep track of events going on. Although logging can be used for many purposes, one of the reasons I wanted to have this in BE.NET was to be able to record unhandled errors.
Error Handling & Reporting
There’s now an event handler in the Global.asax file that catches all unhandled exceptions. Up till now, if a 500 server error occurred, you would be redirected to error404.aspx, as defined by the <customErrors> tag in the web.config file. While this is a nice catch-all method to handling errors, people just getting started with BE.NET are often confused why they are seeing a “Page cannot be found” message when they are trying to do something like save changes and an unhandled error occurs -- which they don’t know has occurred when all they see is a “Page cannot be found” message. To be fair, most people just getting started with BE.NET are not getting errors. But some do, and adjusting folder permissions or other settings fixes the errors they are seeing. In order to fix the problem, one must first know an error is actually occurring, and they need to know what the actual error is!
The new Application_Error event handler in Global.asax does up to three things for non-404 errors:
- It generates a summary, including details, of the unhandled error that just occurred.
- If error logging is turned on (a new option, explained below), it makes a call to Utils.Log(), passing the error summary to any event handlers registered to receive log notifications.
- It does a Server.Transfer() to a new error.aspx page in the root of the BE.NET web folder.
For #1, the summary generated includes a stack trace, inner exceptions, and the URL the page occurred on (both Request.Url and Request.RawUrl).
The summary that is generated is stored in the Items collection of HttpContext.Current. Why? When Application_Error in Global.asax does a Server.Transfer to the new error.aspx page, the error.aspx page checks to see if the person is logged in (i.e. if they’re authenticated). If they are logged in, error.aspx will display the error summary generated within Global.asax. The error summary is retrieved out of the HttpContext.Current.Items collection. If the person isn’t logged in, they just see a message similar to error404.aspx, indicating an “unexpected error has occurred”, and the developer will be tortured, blah blah. :-)
Displaying the error details directly on error.aspx for logged in users is helpful for two reasons. (a) Immediate knowledge of the error, and (b) even if the new error logging option is turned off, you still can see the error message in your browser when you’re transferred to error.aspx.
I’ve mentioned this new error logging option twice now. On the Settings tab in the control panel, in the Advanced Settings section, there is a new checkbox labeled “Enable error logging”. By default, it’s turned off. While this is turned off, the only notifications the Logger extension will receive (if you leave the Logger extension enabled) will be messages coming from some piece of code that explicitly makes a call to Utils.Log(). If you turn this new Enable Error Logging feature on, then when an unhandled exception occurs, Global.asax will pass the error details to Utils.Log() for any registered event handlers to deal with.
Result & Extensibility Possibilities
From version 188.8.131.52, any extension, widget or even BE.NET itself can now simply make a call to Utils.Log() to have any message logged. Logging can be done with the built-in Logger extension, or messages can be logged to a database, sent via email, etc. by any other extension someone creates. I’m also very excited about the new error handling mechanism which will give administrators a lot more information about errors that may be occurring in their blog.
Please download and test out the latest build. If any problems show up or you have any ideas for improvements, you can leave a comment here, or post a message on the CodePlex discussion boards.