Contributing a Patch to a Logstash Pluginedit

This section discusses the information you need to know to successfully contribute a patch to a Logstash plugin.

Each plugin defines its own configuration options. These control the behaviour of the plugin to some degree. Configuration option definitions commonly include:

  • Data validation
  • The default value
  • Any required flags

Plugins are subclasses of a Logstash base class. A plugin’s base class defines common configuration and methods.

Input Pluginsedit

Input plugins ingest data from an external source. Input plugins are always associated with a codec. An input plugin always has an associated codec plugin. Input and codec plugins operate in conjuction to create a Logstash event and add that event to the processing queue. An input codec is a subclass of the LogStash::Inputs::Base class.

Table 1. Input API

#register() -> nil

Required. This API sets up resources for the plugin, typically the connection to the external source.

#run(queue) -> nil

Required. This API fetches or listens for source data, typically looping until stopped. Must handle errors inside the loop. Pushes any created events to the queue object specified in the method argument. Some inputs may receive batched data to minimize the external call overhead.

#stop() -> nil

Optional. Stops external connections and cleans up.

Codec Pluginsedit

Codec plugins decode input data that has a specific structure, such as JSON input data. A codec plugin is a subclass of LogStash::Codecs::Base.

Table 2. Codec API

#register() -> nil

Identical to the API of the same name for input plugins.

#decode(data){|event| block} -> nil

Must be implemented. Used to create an Event from the raw data given in the method argument. Must handle errors. The caller must provide a Ruby block. The block is called with the created Event.

#encode(event) -> nil

Required. Used to create a structured data object from the given Event. May handle errors. This method calls a block that was previously stored as @on_event with two arguments: the original event and the data object.

Filter Pluginsedit

A mechanism to change, mutate or merge one or more Events. A filter plugin is a subclass of the LogStash::Filters::Base class.

Table 3. Filter API

#register() -> nil

Identical to the API of the same name for input plugins.

#filter(event) -> nil

Required. May handle errors. Used to apply a mutation function to the given event.

Output Pluginsedit

A mechanism to send an event to an external destination. This process may require serialization. An output plugin is a subclass of the LogStash::Outputs::Base class.

Table 4. Output API

#register() -> nil

Identical to the API of the same name for input plugins.

#receive(event) -> nil

Required. Must handle errors. Used to prepare the given event for transmission to the external destination. Some outputs may buffer the prepared events to batch transmit to the destination.


A bug or feature is identified. An issue is created in the plugin repository. A patch is created and a pull request (PR) is submitted. After review and possible rework the PR is merged and the plugin is published.

The Community Maintainer Guide explains, in more detail, the process of getting a patch accepted, merged and published. The Community Maintainer Guide also details the roles that contributors and maintainers are expected to perform.

Testing Methodologiesedit

Test Driven Developmentedit

Test Driven Development, colloquially known as TDD, describes a methodology for using tests to guide evolution of source code. For our purposes, we are only going to use a part of it, that is, before writing the fix - we create tests that illustrate the bug by failing. We stop when we have written enough code to make the tests pass and submit the fix and tests as a patch. It is not necessary to write the tests before the fix, but it is very easy to write a passing test afterwards that may not actually verify that the fault is really fixed especially if the fault can be triggered via multiple execution paths or varying input data.

The RSpec Frameworkedit

Logstash uses Rspec, a Ruby testing framework, to define and run the test suite. What follows is a summary of various sources.

  1. Rspec Example

     1 # encoding: utf-8
     2 require "logstash/devutils/rspec/spec_helper"
     3 require "logstash/plugin"
     5 describe "outputs/riemann" do
     6   describe "#register" do
     7     let(:output) do
     8       LogStash::Plugin.lookup("output", "riemann").new(configuration)
     9     end
    11     context "when no protocol is specified" do
    12       let(:configuration) { }
    14       it "the method completes without error" do
    15         expect {output.register}.not_to raise_error
    16       end
    17     end
    19     context "when a bad protocol is specified" do
    20       let(:configuration) { {"protocol" => "fake"} }
    22       it "the method fails with error" do
    23         expect {output.register}.to raise_error
    24       end
    25     end
    27     context "when the tcp protocol is specified" do
    28       let(:configuration) { {"protocol" => "tcp"} }
    30       it "the method completes without error" do
    31         expect {output.register}.not_to raise_error
    32       end
    33     end
    34   end
    36   describe "#receive" do
    37     let(:output) do
    38       LogStash::Plugin.lookup("output", "riemann").new(configuration)
    39     end
    41     context "when operating normally" do
    42       let(:configuration) { }
    43       let(:event) do
    44         data = {"message"=>"hello", "@version"=>"1",
    45                 "@timestamp"=>"2015-06-03T23:34:54.076Z",
    46                 "host"=>"vagrant-ubuntu-trusty-64"}
    48       end
    50       before(:example) do
    51         output.register
    52       end
    54       it "should accept the event" do
    55         expect { output.receive event }.not_to raise_error
    56       end
    57     end
    58   end
    59 end

Describe blocks (lines 5, 6 and 36 in Example 1). 

describe(string){block} -> nil
describe(Class){block} -> nil

With RSpec, we are always describing the plugin method behavior. The describe block is added in logical sections and can accept either an existing class name or a string. The string used in line 5 is the plugin name. Line 6 is the register method, line 36 is the receive method. It is a RSpec convention to prefix instance methods with one hash and class methods with one dot.

Context blocks (lines 11, 19, 27 and 41). 

context(string){block} -> nil

In RSpec, context blocks define sections that group tests by a variation. The string should start with the word when and then detail the variation. See line 11. The tests in the content block should should only be for that variation.

Let blocks (lines 7, 12, 20, 28, 37, 42 and 43). 

let(symbol){block} -> nil

In RSpec, let blocks define resources for use in the test blocks. These resources are reinitialized for every test block. They are available as method calls inside the test block. Define let blocks in describe and context blocks, which scope the let block and any other nested blocks. You can use other let methods defined later within the let block body. See lines 7-9, which define the output resource and use the configuration method, defined with different variations in lines 12, 20 and 28.

Before blocks (line 50). 

before(symbol){block} -> nil - symbol is one of :suite, :context, :example, but :all and :each are synonyms for :suite and :example respectively.

In RSpec, before blocks are used to further set up any resources that would have been initialized in a let block. You cannot define let blocks inside before blocks.

You can also define after blocks, which are typically used to clean up any setup activity performed by a before block.

It blocks (lines 14, 22, 30 and 54). 

it(string){block} -> nil

In RSpec, it blocks set the expectations that verify the behavior of the tested code. The string should not start with it or should, but needs to express the outcome of the expectation. When put together the texts from the enclosing describe, context and it blocks should form a fairly readable sentence, as in lines 5, 6, 11 and 14:

#register when no protocol is specified the method completes without error

Readable code like this make the goals of tests easy to understand.

Expect method (lines 15, 23, 31, 55). 

expect(object){block} -> nil

In RSpec, the expect method verifies a statement that compares an actual result to an expected result. The expect method is usually paired with a call to the to or not_to methods. Use the block form when expecting errors or observing for changes. The to or not_to methods require a matcher object that encapsulates the expected value. The argument form of the expect method encapsulates the actual value. When put together the whole line tests the actual against the expected value.

Matcher methods (lines 15, 23, 31, 55). 

raise_error(error class|nil) -> matcher instance
be(object) -> matcher instance
eq(object) -> matcher instance
eql(object) -> matcher instance
  for more see

In RSpec, a matcher is an object generated by the equivalent method call (be, eq) that will be used to evaluate the expected against the actual values.

Putting it all togetheredit

This example fixes an issue in the ZeroMQ output plugin. The issue does not require knowledge of ZeroMQ.

The activities in this example have the following prerequisites:

  • A minimal knowledge of Git and Github. See the Github boot camp.
  • A text editor.
  • A JRuby runtime environment. The chruby tool manages Ruby versions.
  • JRuby 1.7.22 or later.
  • The bundler and rake gems installed.
  • ZeroMQ installed.
  1. In Github, fork the ZeroMQ output plugin repository.
  2. On your local machine, clone the fork to a known folder such as logstash/.
  3. Open the following files in a text editor:

    • logstash-output-zeromq/lib/logstash/outputs/zeromq.rb
    • logstash-output-zeromq/lib/logstash/util/zeromq.rb
    • logstash-output-zeromq/spec/outputs/zeromq_spec.rb
  4. According to the issue, log output in server mode must indicate bound. Furthermore, the test file contains no tests.


    Line 21 of util/zeromq.rb reads"0mq: #{server? ? 'connected' : 'bound'}", :address => address)

  5. In the text editor, set the file encoding and require zeromq.rb for the file zeromq_spec.rb by adding the following lines:

    # encoding: utf-8
    require "logstash/outputs/zeromq"
    require "logstash/devutils/rspec/spec_helper"
  6. The desired error message should read:

    LogStash::Outputs::ZeroMQ when in server mode a 'bound' info line is logged

    To properly generate this message, add a describe block with the fully qualified class name as the argument, a context block, and an it block.

    describe LogStash::Outputs::ZeroMQ do
      context "when in server mode" do
        it "a 'bound' info line is logged" do
  7. To add the missing test, use an instance of the ZeroMQ output and a substitute logger. This examle uses an RSpec feature called test doubles as the substitute logger.

    Add the following lines to zeromq_spec.rb, after describe LogStash::Outputs::ZeroMQ do and before context "when in server mode" do:

    let(:output) {"mode" => "server", "topology" => "pushpull" }
    let(:tracer) { double("logger") }
  8. Add the body to the it block. Add the following five lines after the line context "when in server mode" do:

    allow(tracer).to receive(:debug)
    output.logger = logger
    expect(tracer).to receive(:info).with("0mq: bound", {:address=>"tcp://"})

    Allow the double to receive debug method calls.

    Make the output use the test double.

    Set an expectation on the test to receive an info method call.

    Call register on the output.

    Call do_close on the output so the test does not hang.

At the end of the modifications, the relevant code section reads:

# encoding: utf-8
require "logstash/outputs/zeromq"
require "logstash/devutils/rspec/spec_helper"

describe LogStash::Outputs::ZeroMQ do
  let(:output) {"mode" => "server", "topology" => "pushpull") }
  let(:tracer) { double("logger") }

  context "when in server mode" do
    it "a ‘bound’ info line is logged" do
      allow(tracer).to receive(:debug)
      output.logger = tracer
      expect(tracer).to receive(:info).with("0mq: bound", {:address=>"tcp://"})

To run this test:

  1. Open a terminal window
  2. Mavigate to the cloned plugin folder
  3. The first time you run the test, run the command bundle install
  4. Run the command bundle exec rspec

Assuming all prerequisites were installed correctly, the test fails with output similar to:

Using Accessor#strict_set for specs
Run options: exclude {:redis=>true, :socket=>true, :performance=>true, :couchdb=>true, :elasticsearch=>true,
:elasticsearch_secure=>true, :export_cypher=>true, :integration=>true, :windows=>true}

  when in server mode
    a ‘bound’ info line is logged (FAILED - 1)


  1) LogStash::Outputs::ZeroMQ when in server mode a ‘bound’ info line is logged
     Failure/Error: output.register
       Double "logger" received :info with unexpected arguments
         expected: ("0mq: bound", {:address=>"tcp://"})
              got: ("0mq: connected", {:address=>"tcp://"})
     # ./lib/logstash/util/zeromq.rb:21:in `setup'
     # ./lib/logstash/outputs/zeromq.rb:92:in `register'
     # ./lib/logstash/outputs/zeromq.rb:91:in `register'
     # ./spec/outputs/zeromq_spec.rb:13:in `(root)'
     # /Users/guy/.gem/jruby/1.9.3/gems/rspec-wait-0.0.7/lib/rspec/wait.rb:46:in `(root)'

Finished in 0.133 seconds (files took 1.28 seconds to load)
1 example, 1 failure

Failed examples:

rspec ./spec/outputs/zeromq_spec.rb:10 # LogStash::Outputs::ZeroMQ when in server mode a ‘bound’ info line is logged

Randomized with seed 2568

To correct the error, open the util/zeromq.rb file in your text editor and swap the positions of the words connected and bound on line 21. Line 21 now reads:"0mq: #{server? ? 'bound' : 'connected'}", :address => address)

Run the test again with the bundle exec rspec command.

The test passes with output similar to:

Using Accessor#strict_set for specs
Run options: exclude {:redis=>true, :socket=>true, :performance=>true, :couchdb=>true, :elasticsearch=>true, :elasticsearch_secure=>true, :export_cypher=>true, :integration=>true, :windows=>true}

  when in server mode
    a ‘bound’ info line is logged

Finished in 0.114 seconds (files took 1.22 seconds to load)
1 example, 0 failures

Randomized with seed 45887

Commit the changes to git and Github.

Your pull request is visible from the Pull Requests section of the original Github repository. The plugin maintainers review your work, suggest changes if necessary, and merge and publish a new version of the plugin.