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How to create a new log file for each time the application runs?

Recently I got a question from my blog reader Kuruba, regarding log4j logging. Kuruba is having a batch program with Log4j logging and he wants to send the log messages to a new log file each time his batch runs. This can be achieved by extending Log4j's FileAppender, which is used for logging to a file, and adding our own customization to the file appender. Below I'm explaining how to do it.

Extending FileAppender to create a new log file for each application run:

Here's the pseudo code for the logic we are going to implement.

  1. Create a new Class NewLogForEachRunFileAppender (or any name as you wish), and extend it from the class org.apache.log4j.FileAppender.
  2. Override the activateOptions() function for setting the new log file name every time the logger is instantiated.
  3. For simplicity, we will append the current timestamp to each log file name. So, each time when you run the application, you will get a fresh log file.

Customized FileAppender: NewLogForEachRunFileAppender:

Here is the code for the customize FileAppender, which will create a new log file, appender with the current timestamp, for each run of the application. Please note that this code is tested in Windows environment. So, please be cautious and do a testing when running this code in Unix or other environment.

package com.veerasundar.dynamiclogger;

    import java.io.File;
    import java.io.IOException;

    import org.apache.log4j.FileAppender;
    import org.apache.log4j.Layout;
    import org.apache.log4j.spi.ErrorCode;

    * This is a customized log4j appender, which will create a new file for every
    * run of the application.
    * @author veera | https://veerasundar.com
    public class NewLogForEachRunFileAppender extends FileAppender {

    public NewLogForEachRunFileAppender() {

    public NewLogForEachRunFileAppender(Layout layout, String filename,
    		boolean append, boolean bufferedIO, int bufferSize)
    		throws IOException {
    	super(layout, filename, append, bufferedIO, bufferSize);

    public NewLogForEachRunFileAppender(Layout layout, String filename,
    		boolean append) throws IOException {
    	super(layout, filename, append);

    public NewLogForEachRunFileAppender(Layout layout, String filename)
    		throws IOException {
    	super(layout, filename);

    public void activateOptions() {
    if (fileName != null) {
    	try {
    		fileName = getNewLogFileName();
    		setFile(fileName, fileAppend, bufferedIO, bufferSize);
    	} catch (Exception e) {
    		errorHandler.error("Error while activating log options", e,

    private String getNewLogFileName() {
    if (fileName != null) {
    	final String DOT = ".";
    	final String HIPHEN = "-";
    	final File logFile = new File(fileName);
    	final String fileName = logFile.getName();
    	String newFileName = "";

    	final int dotIndex = fileName.indexOf(DOT);
    	if (dotIndex != -1) {
    		// the file name has an extension. so, insert the time stamp
    		// between the file name and the extension
    		newFileName = fileName.substring(0, dotIndex)   HIPHEN
    				   System.currentTimeMillis()   DOT
    				  fileName.substring(dotIndex   1);
    	} else {
    		// the file name has no extension. So, just append the timestamp
    		// at the end.
    		newFileName = fileName   HIPHEN   System.currentTimeMillis();
    	return logFile.getParent()   File.separator   newFileName;
    return null;

log4j.properties file

Since we created a custom file appender, we need to tell the Log4j to use our custom file appender. For demo purpose, I configured this custom FileAppender as a rootLogger. So, all log messages will go to our file appender. Below is the sample log4j.properties file.

log4j.rootLogger = DEBUG, fileout
    log4j.appender.fileout = com.veerasundar.dynamiclogger.NewLogForEachRunFileAppender
    log4j.appender.fileout.layout.ConversionPattern = %d{ABSOLUTE} %5p %c - %m%n
    log4j.appender.fileout.layout = org.apache.log4j.PatternLayout
    log4j.appender.fileout.File = D:/temp/dynamiclogger/logs.log

If you look at the property log4j.appender.fileout, our customized file appender is associated with this appender. We have also given a log file name 'log.log' in the above configuration file. So, with the above configuration, when you run your application, the log files will be generated in this fashion: logs-1250696128437.log, logs-1250696142828.log.