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How to log exceptions to stderr in Django

Thu 23 January 2014
By Harry

Here's a common set of questions about Django:

  • How do I get django to log errors to stderr?
  • Why can't I see Django exceptions in the console?
  • How do I get Django to log exceptions?
  • How to print debug messages in Django?

I know they're common because I've often found asking myself some kind of variant on these questions, at some point or other. Then I saw that, in Django 1.6/1.7, the default logging configuration actually does send logging messages to the console

So does this mean that exceptions in Django are going to start appearing in the console then? No.

Just because you wish for it doesn't make it so

I think my own difficulties with this issue stemmed from the fact that, obviously, in my mind, the thing you'd want to log would be exceptions, and that, since Django will show us a clever debug page (if DEBUG is True), or a standard server 500 page, then I sort of assumed it would log that exception as well. But it doesn't

The reason I struggled with this because I wasn't clear on the fact that there are actually two systems involved here:

  • Django's logging system (based on the Python logging module)
  • Django's exception handling layer (middleware)

By default (as of Django 1.6), Django is configured to send logging messages to the console. There are two gotchas however:

  • Django's default logging level is set to WARNING, which means any attempt to use logging.debug or will fail
  • Django has a middleware layer that automatically catches exceptions, and handles them differently depending on whether you have DEBUG = True or not, but it doesn't explicitly log them.

Unit testing Django's logging config (if you want)

This is a blog about TDD, so let's write a test first. It works by monkey-patching in an extra view function into the project's url config (mwahahaha). The view then tries to do various calls to, eg, logging.debug, just we'd like to be able to in our real views.

Finally it explodes with an exception, so we can test whether any information about the exception ends up in the logs

We mock out sys.stderr to pick up on what was actually sent to the console.

# test assumes django 1.6 and project called 'myproj'
# also assumes this file is saved in myproj/myproj/,
# ie in the same folder as
from django.test import TestCase
from django.conf.urls import url
from unittest.mock import patch
import logging
import sys
from django.http import HttpResponse
from .urls import urlpatterns
from .settings  import DEBUG # django.conf.settings are messed with by test runner

def do_logging(request):
    # dummy view that tries to log at all levels, and then raises an exception
    logging.debug('debug logged')'info logged')
    logging.warning('warning logged')
    logging.critical('critical logged')
    raise Exception('arg')
urls_with_logging_test = urlpatterns + [url(r'^testlogging/$', do_logging)]

class LoggingTest(TestCase):

    def test_level(self):
        root_log_level = logging.getLogger().level
        if DEBUG:
            self.assertEqual(logging.getLevelName(root_log_level), 'DEBUG')
            self.assertEqual(logging.getLevelName(root_log_level), 'INFO')

    @patch('myproj.urls.urlpatterns', urls_with_logging_test)
    def test_logs_to_stderr(self, mock_stderr):
        written = ''.join(c[0][0] for c in mock_stderr.write.call_args_list)
        self.assertIn('critical logged', written)
        self.assertIn('warning logged', written)
        self.assertIn('info logged', written)
        if settings.DEBUG:
            self.assertIn('debug logged', written)
            self.assertNotIn('debug logged', written)
        self.assertIn('arg', written, 'Could not see exception in logs')
        self.assertIn('do_logging', written, 'Could not see traceback info')

Setting the base log level (if you want):

Here's what you need to add to if you want to set the log level lower, so that, say, actually works. You don't actually need this to get the exception logging to work, but I discovered it while investigating this problem, so I thought I'd write it up here, since it's not obvious from the docs.

    'version': 1,
    'root': {'level': 'DEBUG' if DEBUG else 'INFO'},

I have a feeling someone will tell me that resetting the root log level is a silly thing to do, but it does work. By all means enlighten me if this isn't a good idea.

Using middleware to catch and log exceptions

Onto the real answer to this problem. Normally, to log an exception, you'd have something like this

    logging.exception('Oh noes, it exploded')

And then logging.exception will automagically print a full traceback as well as our little message.

But how to get this to just happen, by default, for any exceptions in our code? The answer is what Django calls "middleware", code that can get run while handling any request.

import logging

class ExceptionLoggingMiddleware(object):

    def process_exception(self, request, exception):
        logging.exception('Exception handling request for ' + request.path)

Cf the Django docs on middleware, but that's really all you need!

If this is saved to, say, myproj/myproj/, you would then add it to your project in by:


If you've actually used the test, you'll find it now passes.


In summary "how do I get Django to log all exceptions to stderr", which seems such a straightforward question, actually does involve several different components:

  • the logging module, and Django's logging config
  • Django's exception-handling middleware.

Whilst the former is where youd' go to choose where things get logged to (eg stderr or a file), and what the minimum log level is, the latter is the place you actually need to go to if you want to log exceptions.


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