Managing Multiline Messagesedit

The files harvested by Filebeat may contain messages that span multiple lines of text. In order to correctly handle these multiline events, you need to configure multiline settings in the filebeat.yml file to specify which lines are part of a single event.

Important

If you are sending multiline events to Logstash, use the options described here to handle multiline events before sending the event data to Logstash. Trying to implement multiline event handling in Logstash (for example, by using the Logstash multiline codec) may result in the mixing of streams and corrupted data.

At a minimum, you need to configure these multiline options:

  • the pattern option, which specifies a regular expression. Depending on how you configure other multiline options, lines that match the specified regular expression are considered either continuations of a previous line or the start of a new multiline event. You can set the negate option to negate the pattern.
  • the match option, which specifies how Filebeat combines matching lines into an event. You can specify before or after.

See the full documentation for multiline to learn more about these options. Also read YAML Tips and Gotchas and Regular Expression Support to avoid common mistakes.

Testing Your Regexp Pattern for Multilineedit

To make it easier for you to test the regexp patterns in your multiline config, we’ve created a Go Playground. You can simply plug in the regexp pattern along with the negate setting that you plan to use, and paste a sample message between the content backticks (` `). Then click Run, and you’ll see which lines in the message match your specified configuration. For example:

images/go-playground.png

Examples of Multiline Configurationedit

The examples in this section cover the following use cases:

  • Combining a Java stack trace into a single event
  • Combining C-style line continuations into a single event
  • Combining multiple lines from time-stamped events

Java Stack Tracesedit

Java stack traces consist of multiple lines, with each line after the initial line beginning with whitespace, as in this example:

Exception in thread "main" java.lang.NullPointerException
        at com.example.myproject.Book.getTitle(Book.java:16)
        at com.example.myproject.Author.getBookTitles(Author.java:25)
        at com.example.myproject.Bootstrap.main(Bootstrap.java:14)

To consolidate these lines into a single event in Filebeat, use the following multiline configuration:

multiline.pattern: '^[[:space:]]'
multiline.negate: false
multiline.match: after

This configuration merges any line that begins with whitespace up to the previous line.

Here’s a Java stack trace that presents a slightly more complex example:

Exception in thread "main" java.lang.IllegalStateException: A book has a null property
       at com.example.myproject.Author.getBookIds(Author.java:38)
       at com.example.myproject.Bootstrap.main(Bootstrap.java:14)
Caused by: java.lang.NullPointerException
       at com.example.myproject.Book.getId(Book.java:22)
       at com.example.myproject.Author.getBookIds(Author.java:35)
       ... 1 more

To consolidate these lines into a single event in Filebeat, use the following multiline configuration:

multiline.pattern: '^[[:space:]]+|^Caused by:'
multiline.negate: false
multiline.match: after

In this example, the pattern matches the following lines:

  • a line that begins with spaces followed by the word at or ...
  • a line that begins with the words Caused by:

Line Continuationsedit

Several programming languages use the backslash (\) character at the end of a line to denote that the line continues, as in this example:

printf ("%10.10ld  \t %10.10ld \t %s\
  %f", w, x, y, z );

To consolidate these lines into a single event in Filebeat, use the following multiline configuration:

multiline.pattern: '\\$'
multiline.negate: false
multiline.match: before

This configuration merges any line that ends with the \ character with the line that follows.

Timestampsedit

Activity logs from services such as Elasticsearch typically begin with a timestamp, followed by information on the specific activity, as in this example:

[2015-08-24 11:49:14,389][INFO ][env                      ] [Letha] using [1] data paths, mounts [[/
(/dev/disk1)]], net usable_space [34.5gb], net total_space [118.9gb], types [hfs]

To consolidate these lines into a single event in Filebeat, use the following multiline configuration:

multiline.pattern: '^\[[0-9]{4}-[0-9]{2}-[0-9]{2}'
multiline.negate: true
multiline.match: after

This configuration uses the negate: true and match: after settings to specify that any line that does not match the specified pattern belongs to the previous line.