How to write a Java output plugin

This functionality is in beta and is subject to change. The design and code is less mature than official GA features and is being provided as-is with no warranties. Beta features are not subject to the support SLA of official GA features.

To develop a new Java output for Logstash, you write a new Java class that conforms to the Logstash Java Outputs API, package it, and install it with the logstash-plugin utility. We’ll go through each of those steps.

Set up your environment

Copy the example repo

Start by copying the example output plugin. The plugin API is currently part of the Logstash codebase so you must have a local copy of that available. You can obtain a copy of the Logstash codebase with the following git command:

git clone --branch <branch_name> --single-branch https://github.com/elastic/logstash.git <target_folder>

The branch_name should correspond to the version of Logstash containing the preferred revision of the Java plugin API.

The beta version of the Java plugin API is available in the 6.7 branch of the Logstash codebase.

Specify the target_folder for your local copy of the Logstash codebase. If you do not specify target_folder, it defaults to a new folder called logstash under your current folder.

Generate the .jar file

After you have obtained a copy of the appropriate revision of the Logstash codebase, you need to compile it to generate the .jar file containing the Java plugin API. From the root directory of your Logstash codebase ($LS_HOME), you can compile it with ./gradlew assemble (or gradlew.bat assemble if you’re running on Windows). This should produce the $LS_HOME/logstash-core/build/libs/logstash-core-x.y.z.jar where x, y, and z refer to the version of Logstash.

After you have successfully compiled Logstash, you need to tell your Java plugin where to find the logstash-core-x.y.z.jar file. Create a new file named gradle.properties in the root folder of your plugin project. That file should have a single line:

LOGSTASH_CORE_PATH=<target_folder>/logstash-core

where target_folder is the root folder of your local copy of the Logstash codebase.

Code the plugin

The example output plugin prints events to the console using the event’s toString method. Let’s look at the main class in the example output:

@LogstashPlugin(name = "java_output_example")
public class JavaOutputExample implements Output {

    public static final PluginConfigSpec<String> PREFIX_CONFIG =
            PluginConfigSpec.stringSetting("prefix", "");

    private final String id;
    private String prefix;
    private PrintStream printer;
    private final CountDownLatch done = new CountDownLatch(1);
    private volatile boolean stopped = false;

    public JavaOutputExample(final String id, final Configuration configuration, final Context context) {
        this(id, configuration, context, System.out);
    }

    JavaOutputExample(final String id, final Configuration config, final Context context, OutputStream targetStream) {
        this.id = id;
        prefix = config.get(PREFIX_CONFIG);
        printer = new PrintStream(targetStream);
    }

    @Override
    public void output(final Collection<Event> events) {
      Iterator<Event> z = events.iterator();
      while (z.hasNext() && !stopped) {
          String s = prefix + z.next();
          printer.println(s);
        }
    }

    @Override
    public void stop() {
        stopped = true;
        done.countDown();
    }

    @Override
    public void awaitStop() throws InterruptedException {
        done.await();
    }

    @Override
    public Collection<PluginConfigSpec<?>> configSchema() {
        return Collections.singletonList(PREFIX_CONFIG);
    }

    @Override
    public String getId() {
        return id;
    }
}

Let’s step through and examine each part of that class.

Class declaration

@LogstashPlugin(name="java_output_example")
public class JavaOutputExample implements Output {

Notes about the class declaration:

  • All Java plugins must be annotated with the @LogstashPlugin annotation. Additionally:

    • The name property of the annotation must be supplied and defines the name of the plugin as it will be used in the Logstash pipeline definition. For example, this output would be referenced in the output section of the Logstash pipeline definition as output { java_output_example => { .... } }
    • The value of the name property must match the name of the class excluding casing and underscores.
  • The class must implement the co.elastic.logstash.api.Output interface.

Plugin settings

The snippet below contains both the setting definition and the method referencing it:

public static final PluginConfigSpec<String> PREFIX_CONFIG =
        PluginConfigSpec.stringSetting("prefix", "");

@Override
public Collection<PluginConfigSpec<?>> configSchema() {
    return Collections.singletonList(PREFIX_CONFIG);
}

The PluginConfigSpec class allows developers to specify the settings that a plugin supports complete with setting name, data type, deprecation status, required status, and default value. In this example, the prefix setting defines an optional prefix to include in the output of the event. The setting is not required and if it is not explicitly set, it defaults to the empty string.

The configSchema method must return a list of all settings that the plugin supports. In a future phase of the Java plugin project, the Logstash execution engine will validate that all required settings are present and that no unsupported settings are present.

Constructor and initialization

private final String id;
private String prefix;
private PrintStream printer;

public JavaOutputExample(final String id, final Configuration configuration, final Context context) {
    this(configuration, context, System.out);
}

JavaOutputExample(final String id, final Configuration config, final Context context, OutputStream targetStream) {
    this.id = id;
    prefix = config.get(PREFIX_CONFIG);
    printer = new PrintStream(targetStream);
}

All Java output plugins must have a constructor taking a String id and a Configuration and Context argument. This is the constructor that will be used to instantiate them at runtime. The retrieval and validation of all plugin settings should occur in this constructor. In this example, the values of the prefix setting is retrieved and stored in a local variable for later use in the output method. In this example, a second, pacakge private constructor is defined that is useful for unit testing with a Stream other than System.out.

Any additional initialization may occur in the constructor as well. If there are any unrecoverable errors encountered in the configuration or initialization of the output plugin, a descriptive exception should be thrown. The exception will be logged and will prevent Logstash from starting.

Output method

@Override
public void output(final Collection<Event> events) {
    Iterator<Event> z = events.iterator();
    while (z.hasNext() && !stopped) {
        String s = prefix + z.next();
        printer.println(s);
    }
}

Outputs may send events to local sinks such as the console or a file or to remote systems such as Elasticsearch or other external systems. In this example, the events are printed to the local console.

Stop and awaitStop methods

private final CountDownLatch done = new CountDownLatch(1);
private volatile boolean stopped;

@Override
public void stop() {
    stopped = true;
    done.countDown();
}

@Override
public void awaitStop() throws InterruptedException {
    done.await();
}

The stop method notifies the output to stop sending events. The stop mechanism may be implemented in any way that honors the API contract though a volatile boolean flag works well for many use cases. Because this output example is so simple, its output method does not check for the stop flag.

Outputs stop both asynchronously and cooperatively. Use the awaitStop method to block until the output has completed the stop process. Note that this method should not signal the output to stop as the stop method does. The awaitStop mechanism may be implemented in any way that honors the API contract though a CountDownLatch works well for many use cases.

getId method

@Override
public String getId() {
    return id;
}

For output plugins, the getId method should always return the id that was provided to the plugin through its constructor at instantiation time.

Unit tests

Lastly, but certainly not least importantly, unit tests are strongly encouraged. The example output plugin includes an example unit test that you can use as a template for your own.

Package and deploy

Java plugins are packaged as Ruby gems for dependency management and interoperability with Ruby plugins.

One of the goals for Java plugin support is to eliminate the need for any knowledge of Ruby or its toolchain for Java plugin development. Future phases of the Java plugin project will automate the packaging of Java plugins as Ruby gems so no direct knowledge of or interaction with Ruby will be required. In the current phase, Java plugins must still be manually packaged as Ruby gems and installed with the logstash-plugin utility.

Compile to JAR file

The Java plugin should be compiled and assembled into a fat jar with the vendor task in the Gradle build file. This will package all Java dependencies into a single jar and write it to the correct folder for later packaging into a Ruby gem.

Manually package as Ruby gem

Several Ruby source files are required to package the jar file as a Ruby gem. These Ruby files are used only at Logstash startup time to identify the Java plugin and are not used during runtime event processing.

These Ruby source files will be automatically generated in a future release.

logstash-output-<output-name>.gemspec

Gem::Specification.new do |s|
  s.name            = 'logstash-output-java_output_example'
  s.version         = PLUGIN_VERSION
  s.licenses        = ['Apache-2.0']
  s.summary         = "Example output using Java plugin API"
  s.description     = ""
  s.authors         = ['Elasticsearch']
  s.email           = 'info@elastic.co'
  s.homepage        = "http://www.elastic.co/guide/en/logstash/current/index.html"
  s.require_paths = ['lib', 'vendor/jar-dependencies']

  # Files
  s.files = Dir["lib/**/*","spec/**/*","*.gemspec","*.md","CONTRIBUTORS","Gemfile","LICENSE","NOTICE.TXT", "vendor/jar-dependencies/**/*.jar", "vendor/jar-dependencies/**/*.rb", "VERSION", "docs/**/*"]

  # Special flag to let us know this is actually a logstash plugin
  s.metadata = { 'logstash_plugin' => 'true', 'logstash_group' => 'output'}

  # Gem dependencies
  s.add_runtime_dependency "logstash-core-plugin-api", ">= 1.60", "<= 2.99"
  s.add_runtime_dependency 'jar-dependencies'

  s.add_development_dependency 'logstash-devutils'
end

You can use this file with the following modifications:

  • s.name must follow the logstash-output-<output-name> pattern
  • s.version must match the project.version specified in the build.gradle file. Both versions should be set to be read from the VERSION file in this example.

lib/logstash/outputs/<output-name>.rb

# encoding: utf-8
require "logstash/outputs/base"
require "logstash/namespace"
require "logstash-output-java_output_example_jars"
require "java"

class LogStash::Outputs::JavaOutputExample < LogStash::Outputs::Base
  config_name "java_output_example"

  def self.javaClass() org.logstash.javaapi.JavaOutputExample.java_class; end
end

Modify these items in the file above:

  • Change the name to correspond with the output name.
  • Change require "logstash-output-java_output_example_jars" to reference the appropriate "jars" file as described below.
  • Change class LogStash::Outputs::JavaOutputExample < LogStash::Outputs::Base to provide a unique and descriptive Ruby class name.
  • Change config_name "java_output_example" to match the name of the plugin as specified in the name property of the @LogstashPlugin annotation.
  • Change def self.javaClass() org.logstash.javaapi.JavaOutputExample.java_class; end to return the class of the Java output.

lib/logstash-output-<output-name>_jars.rb

require 'jar_dependencies'
require_jar('org.logstash.javaapi', 'logstash-output-java_output_example', '0.0.1')

In the file above:

  • Rename the file to correspond to the output name.
  • Change the require_jar directive to correspond to the group specified in the Gradle build file, the name of the output JAR file, and the version as specified in both the gemspec and Gradle build file.

After you have created the previous files and the plugin JAR file, build the gem using the following command:

gem build logstash-output-<output-name>.gemspec

Installing the Java plugin in Logstash

After you have packaged your Java plugin as a Ruby gem, you can install it in Logstash with this command:

bin/logstash-plugin install --no-verify --local /path/to/javaPlugin.gem

For Windows platforms: Substitute backslashes for forward slashes as appropriate in the command.

Running Logstash with the Java output plugin

The following is a minimal Logstash configuration that can be used to test that the Java output plugin is correctly installed and functioning.

input {
  generator { message => "Hello world!" count => 1 }
}
output {
  java_output_example {}
}

Copy the above Logstash configuration to a file such as java_output.conf. Logstash should then be started with:

bin/logstash --java-execution -f /path/to/java_output.conf

The --java-execution flag to enable the Java execution engine is required as Java plugins are not supported in the Ruby execution engine.

The expected Logstash output (excluding initialization) with the configuration above is:

{"@timestamp":"yyyy-MM-ddTHH:mm:ss.SSSZ","message":"Hello world!","@version":"1","host":"<yourHostname>","sequence":0}

Feedback

If you have any feedback on Java plugin support in Logstash, please comment on our main Github issue or post in the Logstash forum.