How to use Log4j 2 with Spring Boot

Apache Log4j 2 is a successor of Log4j 1.x (who would have guessed? :p).

Log4j 2 provides a significant improvement in performance compared to its predecessor. It contains asynchronous loggers and supports multiple APIs including SLF4J, commons logging, and java.util.loggging.

In this article, you’ll learn how to integrate and configure Log4j 2 in Spring Boot applications. You’ll configure different types of appenders including RollingFileAppender and SMTPAppender. You’ll also learn how to use Async logging capabilities provided by Log4j 2.

The idea is to build a simple Spring Boot application from scratch and demonstrate how to go about integrating and configuring Log4j 2 in the app.

So, Let’s get started!

Creating the Project

Let’s use Spring Boot CLI to generate the project. If you don’t have Spring Boot CLI installed, I highly encourage you to do so. Check out the Official Spring Boot documentation for any help with the installation.

Fire up your terminal and type the following command to generate the project –

spring init --name=log4j2-demo --dependencies=web log4j2-demo

Once the project is generated, import it into your favorite IDE. The project’s directory structure should look like this –

Spring Boot Log4j2 Example Directory Structure

Adding Log4j2

All the Spring Boot starters depend on spring-boot-starter-logging, which uses Logback by default. For using Log4j2, you need to exclude spring-boot-starter-logging and add spring-boot-starter-log4j2 dependency.

Open pom.xml file and add the following snippet to the <dependencies> section –

<!-- Exclude Spring Boot's Default Logging -->

<!-- Add Log4j2 Dependency -->

Configuring Log4j2

Spring Boot automatically configures Log4j if it finds a file named log4j2.xml or log4j2.json or log4j2.yaml in the classpath.

In this article, we’ll configure log4j 2 using XML. Create a new file log4j2.xml inside src/main/resources directory, and add the following configuration to it –

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<Configuration status="WARN" monitorInterval="30">
        <Property name="LOG_PATTERN">
            %d{yyyy-MM-dd HH:mm:ss.SSS} %5p ${hostName} --- [%15.15t] %-40.40c{1.} : %m%n%ex
        <Console name="ConsoleAppender" target="SYSTEM_OUT" follow="true">
            <PatternLayout pattern="${LOG_PATTERN}"/>
        <Logger name="com.example.log4j2demo" level="debug" additivity="false">
            <AppenderRef ref="ConsoleAppender" />

        <Root level="info">
            <AppenderRef ref="ConsoleAppender" />

The above configuration defines a simple ConsoleAppender and declares two loggers – an application specific logger and the the root logger.

Using Log4j 2 in the app

Let’s add some logging code to check our logger configuration. Open Log4j2DemoApplication.java and replace it with the following code –

package com.example.log4j2demo;

import org.apache.logging.log4j.LogManager;
import org.apache.logging.log4j.Logger;
import org.springframework.boot.ApplicationArguments;
import org.springframework.boot.ApplicationRunner;
import org.springframework.boot.SpringApplication;
import org.springframework.boot.autoconfigure.SpringBootApplication;

public class Log4j2DemoApplication implements ApplicationRunner {
    private static final Logger logger = LogManager.getLogger(Log4j2DemoApplication.class);

    public static void main(String[] args) {
        SpringApplication.run(Log4j2DemoApplication.class, args);

    public void run(ApplicationArguments applicationArguments) throws Exception {
        logger.debug("Debugging log");
        logger.info("Info log");
        logger.warn("Hey, This is a warning!");
        logger.error("Oops! We have an Error. OK");
        logger.fatal("Damn! Fatal error. Please fix me.");

We have added 5 simple logs of different log levels. When you run the app, it logs everything on the console.

Adding a Rolling File Appender

If you want your logs to be written to a file, then you can use a RollingFile appender. RollingFile appender creates a new file whenever the log file reaches a certain threshold specified by the triggering policy.

It stores the old log files with names matching the pattern specified by the filePattern parameter –

<!-- Rolling File Appender -->
<RollingFile name="FileAppender" fileName="logs/log4j2-demo.log" 
        <SizeBasedTriggeringPolicy size="10MB" />
    <DefaultRolloverStrategy max="10"/>

In the above RollingFile configuration, I’ve specified a SizeBasedTriggeringPolicy which will roll files over when the size reaches 10MB. The <DefaultRollOverStrategy max="10" /> element specifies the maximum number of log files that will be kept.

There is another common triggering policy called TimeBasedTriggeringPolicy which is used commonly in Log4j2. You can use TimeBasedTriggeringPolicy to specify how often a rollover should occur based on the most specific time unit in the date/time pattern specified in the filePattern attribute.

Here is how you can use the TimeBasedTriggeringPolicy in the above example to roll files over every day –

    <TimeBasedTriggeringPolicy interval="1" />

The interval attribute specifies the frequency of rollover. So if you want to roll files over every week, you can specify interval="7".

In the above example, the date/time pattern of the file is {yyy-MM-dd}, where the most specific time unit is dd (date). Therefore the TimeBasedTriggeringPolicy roll files over based on date. If the date/time pattern was yyy-MM-dd-HH, the rollover would occur based on hour.

Finally, To use the RollingFile appender, you need to add the above RollingFile configuration to the <Appenders> section inside log4j2.xml, and configure one of your loggers to use it like so –

<Root level="info">
    <AppenderRef ref="ConsoleAppender"/>
    <AppenderRef ref="FileAppender"/>

Adding an SMTP Appender

SMTP appender is very useful in production systems when you want to be notified about any errors in your application via email.

You can configure an SMTP appender to send ERROR emails to you using an SMTP server like so –

<!-- SMTP Appender -->
<SMTP name="MailAppender"
      subject="Log4j2 Demo [PROD]"
    <ThresholdFilter level="ERROR" onMatch="ACCEPT" onMismatch="DENY"/>

Note that, for SMTP appender to work, you need to include spring-boot-starter-mail dependency to your pom.xml file –

<!-- Needed for SMTP appender -->

Asynchronous Logging

Log4j2 Supports Async loggers. These loggers provide a drastic improvement in performance compared to their synchronous counterparts.

Async Loggers internally use a library called Disruptor for asynchronous logging.

We need to include Disruptor dependency for using async loggers. Add the following to your pom.xml file –

<!-- Needed for Async Logging with Log4j 2 -->

Now you can either make all Loggers asynchronous, or create a mix of sync and async loggers.

1. Making all Loggers Asynchronous

Making all loggers asynchronous is very easy. You just need to set the SystemProperty Log4jContextSelector to org.apache.logging.log4j.core.async.AsyncLoggerContextSelector.

You can do that by adding the System Property at runtime like so –

mvn spring-boot:run -DLog4jContextSelector=org.apache.logging.log4j.core.async.AsyncLoggerContextSelector

or, when using a packaged jar –

mvn clean package
java -jar target/log4j2-demo-0.0.1-SNAPSHOT.jar -DLog4jContextSelector=org.apache.logging.log4j.core.async.AsyncLoggerContextSelector

2. Using a mix of Sync and Async Loggers

You can also use a mix of sync and async loggers with Log4j 2 using the <AsyncLogger> configuration element.

In the following example, all the application specific logs will be asynchronous, and other root logs will be synchronous –

    <AsyncLogger name="com.example.log4j2demo" level="debug" additivity="false">
        <AppenderRef ref="ConsoleAppender" />
        <AppenderRef ref="FileAppender" />

    <Root level="info">
        <AppenderRef ref="ConsoleAppender" />
        <AppenderRef ref="FileAppender" />

You don’t need to add any SystemProperty when you’re using <AsyncLogger> element. Just add the above loggers to your log4j2.xml file and you’re ready to go.


Congratulations folks! In this article, we learned how to integrate and configure Log4j 2 in Spring Boot apps. We also configured different types of appenders like ConsoleAppender, RollingFile Appender, and SMTP Appender. Finally, we learned how to use Async loggers provided by Log4j2.


Yaniv Levy

Yaniv Levy, Entrepreneur, visioner & technology passionate with over 20 years on vast experience as a Senior Software Engineer and a Software Architect.

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