Programmatic Configuration

Log4j 2 provides a few ways for applications to create their own programmatic configuration:

  • Specify a custom ConfigurationFactory to start Log4j with a programmatic configuration
  • Use the Configurator to replace the configuration after Log4j started
  • Initialize Log4j with a combination of a configuration file and programmatic configuration
  • Modify the current Configuration after initialization

The ConfigurationBuilder API

Starting with release 2.4, Log4j provides a ConfigurationBuilder and a set of component builders that allow a Configuration to be created fairly easily. Actual configuration objects like LoggerConfig or Appender can be unwieldy; they require a lot of knowledge about Log4j internals which makes them difficult to work with if all you want is to create a Configuration.

The new ConfigurationBuilder API (in the org.apache.logging.log4j.core.config.builder.api package) allows users to create Configurations in code by constructing component definitions. There is no need to work directly with actual configuration objects. Component definitions are added to the ConfigurationBuilder, and once all the definitions have been collected all the actual configuration objects (like Loggers and Appenders) are constructed.

ConfigurationBuilder has convenience methods for the base components that can be configured such as Loggers, Appenders, Filter, Properties, etc. However, Log4j 2's plugin mechanism means that users can create any number of custom components. As a trade-off, the ConfigurationBuilder API provides only a limited number of "strongly typed" convenience methods like newLogger(), newLayout() etc. The generic builder.newComponent() method can be used if no convenience method exists for the component you want to configure.

For example, the builder does not know what subcomponents can be configured on specific components such as the RollingFileAppender vs. the RoutingAppender. To specify a triggering policy on a RollingFileAppender you would use builder.newComponent().

Examples of using the ConfigurationBuilder API are in the sections that follow.

Understanding ConfigurationFactory

During initialization, Log4j 2 will search for available ConfigurationFactories and then select the one to use. The selected ConfigurationFactory creates the Configuration that Log4j will use. Here is how Log4j finds the available ConfigurationFactories:

  1. A system property named log4j2.configurationFactory can be set with the name of the ConfigurationFactory to be used.
  2. ConfigurationFactory.setConfigurationFactory(ConfigurationFactory) can be called with the instance of the ConfigurationFactory to be used. This must be called before any other calls to Log4j.
  3. A ConfigurationFactory implementation can be added to the classpath and configured as a plugin in the "ConfigurationFactory" category. The Order annotation can be used to specify the relative priority when multiple applicable ConfigurationFactories are found.

ConfigurationFactories have the concept of "supported types", which basically maps to the file extension of the configuration file that the ConfigurationFactory can handle. If a configuration file location is specified, ConfigurationFactories whose supported type does not include "*" or the matching file extension will not be used.

Initialize Log4j Using ConfigurationBuilder with a Custom ConfigurationFactory

One way to programmatically configure Log4j 2 is to create a custom ConfigurationFactory that uses the ConfigurationBuilder to create a Configuration. The below example overrides the getConfiguration() method to return a Configuration created by the ConfigurationBuilder. This will cause the Configuration to automatically be hooked into Log4j when the LoggerContext is created. In the example below, because it specifies a supported type of "*" it will override any configuration files provided.

@Plugin(name = "CustomConfigurationFactory", category = ConfigurationFactory.CATEGORY)
public class CustomConfigurationFactory extends ConfigurationFactory {

    static Configuration createConfiguration(final String name, ConfigurationBuilder<BuiltConfiguration> builder) {
        builder.add(builder.newFilter("ThresholdFilter", Filter.Result.ACCEPT, Filter.Result.NEUTRAL).
            addAttribute("level", Level.DEBUG));
        AppenderComponentBuilder appenderBuilder = builder.newAppender("Stdout", "CONSOLE").
            addAttribute("target", ConsoleAppender.Target.SYSTEM_OUT);
            addAttribute("pattern", "%d [%t] %-5level: %msg%n%throwable"));
        appenderBuilder.add(builder.newFilter("MarkerFilter", Filter.Result.DENY,
            Filter.Result.NEUTRAL).addAttribute("marker", "FLOW"));
        builder.add(builder.newLogger("org.apache.logging.log4j", Level.DEBUG).
            addAttribute("additivity", false));

    public Configuration getConfiguration(final LoggerContext loggerContext, final ConfigurationSource source) {
        return getConfiguration(loggerContext, source.toString(), null);

    public Configuration getConfiguration(final LoggerContext loggerContext, final String name, final URI configLocation) {
        ConfigurationBuilder<BuiltConfiguration> builder = newConfigurationBuilder();
        return createConfiguration(name, builder);

    protected String[] getSupportedTypes() {
        return new String[] {"*"};

As of version 2.7, the ConfigurationFactory.getConfiguration() methods take an additional LoggerContext parameter.

Reconfigure Log4j Using ConfigurationBuilder with the Configurator

An alternative to a custom ConfigurationFactory is to configure with the Configurator. Once a Configuration object has been constructed, it can be passed to one of the Configurator.initialize methods to set up the Log4j configuration.

Using the Configurator in this manner allows the application control over when Log4j is initialized. However, should any logging be attempted before Configurator.initialize() is called then the default configuration will be used for those log events.

ConfigurationBuilder<BuiltConfiguration> builder = ConfigurationBuilderFactory.newConfigurationBuilder();
builder.add(builder.newFilter("ThresholdFilter", Filter.Result.ACCEPT, Filter.Result.NEUTRAL)
    .addAttribute("level", Level.DEBUG));
AppenderComponentBuilder appenderBuilder = builder.newAppender("Stdout", "CONSOLE").addAttribute("target",
    .addAttribute("pattern", "%d [%t] %-5level: %msg%n%throwable"));
appenderBuilder.add(builder.newFilter("MarkerFilter", Filter.Result.DENY, Filter.Result.NEUTRAL)
    .addAttribute("marker", "FLOW"));
builder.add(builder.newLogger("org.apache.logging.log4j", Level.DEBUG)
    .add(builder.newAppenderRef("Stdout")).addAttribute("additivity", false));
ctx = Configurator.initialize(;

This example shows how to create a configuration that includes a RollingFileAppender.

ConfigurationBuilder< BuiltConfiguration > builder = ConfigurationBuilderFactory.newConfigurationBuilder();

builder.setStatusLevel( Level.ERROR);
// create a console appender
AppenderComponentBuilder appenderBuilder = builder.newAppender("Stdout", "CONSOLE").addAttribute("target",
    .addAttribute("pattern", "%d [%t] %-5level: %msg%n%throwable"));
builder.add( appenderBuilder );
// create a rolling file appender
LayoutComponentBuilder layoutBuilder = builder.newLayout("PatternLayout")
    .addAttribute("pattern", "%d [%t] %-5level: %msg%n");
ComponentBuilder triggeringPolicy = builder.newComponent("Policies")
    .addComponent(builder.newComponent("CronTriggeringPolicy").addAttribute("schedule", "0 0 0 * * ?"))
    .addComponent(builder.newComponent("SizeBasedTriggeringPolicy").addAttribute("size", "100M"));
appenderBuilder = builder.newAppender("rolling", "RollingFile")
    .addAttribute("fileName", "target/rolling.log")
    .addAttribute("filePattern", "target/archive/rolling-%d{MM-dd-yy}.log.gz")

// create the new logger
builder.add( builder.newLogger( "TestLogger", Level.DEBUG )
    .add( builder.newAppenderRef( "rolling" ) )
    .addAttribute( "additivity", false ) );

builder.add( builder.newRootLogger( Level.DEBUG )
    .add( builder.newAppenderRef( "rolling" ) ) );
LoggerContext ctx = Configurator.initialize(;

Initialize Log4j by Combining Configuration File with Programmatic Configuration

Sometimes you want to configure with a configuration file but do some additional programmatic configuration. A possible use case might be that you want to allow for a flexible configuration using XML but at the same time make sure there are a few configuration elements that are always present that can't be removed.

The easiest way to achieve this is to extend one of the standard Configuration classes (XmlConfiguration, JSONConfiguration) and then create a new ConfigurationFactory for the extended class. After the standard configuration completes the custom configuration can be added to it.

The example below shows how to extend XmlConfiguration to manually add an Appender and a LoggerConfig to the configuration.

@Plugin(name = "MyXmlConfigurationFactory", category = "ConfigurationFactory")
public class MyXmlConfigurationFactory extends ConfigurationFactory {

     * Valid file extensions for XML files.
    public static final String[] SUFFIXES = new String[]{".xml", "*"};

     * Return the Configuration.
     * @param source The InputSource.
     * @return The Configuration.
    public Configuration getConfiguration(LoggerContext loggerContext, ConfigurationSource source) {
        return new MyXmlConfiguration(loggerContext, source);

     * Returns the file suffixes for XML files.
     * @return An array of File extensions.
    public String[] getSupportedTypes() {
        return SUFFIXES;

public class MyXmlConfiguration extends XmlConfiguration {
    public MyXmlConfiguration(final LoggerContext loggerContext, final ConfigurationSource configSource) {
        super(loggerContext, configSource);

    protected void doConfigure() {
        final LoggerContext context = (LoggerContext) LogManager.getContext(false);
        final Configuration config = context.getConfiguration();
        final Layout layout = PatternLayout.createDefaultLayout(config);
        final Appender fileAppender = FileAppender.newBuilder().setName("target/test.log").withFileName("File")
        AppenderRef[] refs = new AppenderRef[]{AppenderRef.createAppenderRef(fileAppender.getName(), null, null)};
        LoggerConfig loggerConfig = LoggerConfig.createLogger(false, Level.INFO, "org.apache.logging.log4j",
                "true", refs, null, config, null);
        loggerConfig.addAppender(fileAppender, null, null);
        addLogger("org.apache.logging.log4j", loggerConfig);

Programmatically Modifying the Current Configuration after Initialization

Applications sometimes have the need to customize logging separate from the actual configuration. Log4j allows this although it suffers from a few limitations:

  1. If the configuration file is changed the configuration will be reloaded and the manual changes will be lost.
  2. Modification to the running configuration requires that all the methods being called (addAppender and addLogger) be synchronized.

As such, the recommended approach for customizing a configuration is to extend one of the standard Configuration classes, override the setup method to first do super.setup() and then add the custom Appenders, Filters and LoggerConfigs to the configuration before it is registered for use.

The following example adds an Appender and a new LoggerConfig using that Appender to the current configuration.

        final LoggerContext ctx = (LoggerContext) LogManager.getContext(false);
        final Configuration config = ctx.getConfiguration();
        final Layout layout = PatternLayout.createDefaultLayout(config);
        Appender appender = FileAppender.createAppender("target/test.log", "false", "false", "File", "true",
            "false", "false", "4000", layout, null, "false", null, config);
        AppenderRef ref = AppenderRef.createAppenderRef("File", null, null);
        AppenderRef[] refs = new AppenderRef[] {ref};
        LoggerConfig loggerConfig = LoggerConfig.createLogger("false", "info", "org.apache.logging.log4j",
            "true", refs, null, config, null );
        loggerConfig.addAppender(appender, null, null);
        config.addLogger("org.apache.logging.log4j", loggerConfig);

Appending Log Events to Writers and OutputStreams Programmatically

Log4j 2.5 provides facilities to append log events to Writers and OutputStreams. For example, this provides simple integration for JDBC Driver implementors that use Log4j internally and still want to support the JDBC APIs CommonDataSource.setLogWriter(PrintWriter), java.sql.DriverManager.setLogWriter(PrintWriter), and java.sql.DriverManager.setLogStream(PrintStream).

Given any Writer, like a PrintWriter, you tell Log4j to append events to that writer by creating a WriterAppender and updating the Log4j configuration:

void addAppender(final Writer writer, final String writerName) {
    final LoggerContext context = LoggerContext.getContext(false);
    final Configuration config = context.getConfiguration();
    final PatternLayout layout = PatternLayout.createDefaultLayout(config);
    final Appender appender = WriterAppender.createAppender(layout, null, writer, writerName, false, true);
    updateLoggers(appender, config);

private void updateLoggers(final Appender appender, final Configuration config) {
    final Level level = null;
    final Filter filter = null;
    for (final LoggerConfig loggerConfig : config.getLoggers().values()) {
        loggerConfig.addAppender(appender, level, filter);
    config.getRootLogger().addAppender(appender, level, filter);

You can achieve the same effect with an OutputStream, like a PrintStream:

void addAppender(final OutputStream outputStream, final String outputStreamName) {
    final LoggerContext context = LoggerContext.getContext(false);
    final Configuration config = context.getConfiguration();
    final PatternLayout layout = PatternLayout.createDefaultLayout(config);
    final Appender appender = OutputStreamAppender.createAppender(layout, null, outputStream, outputStreamName, false, true);
    updateLoggers(appender, config);

The difference is the use of OutputStreamAppender instead of WriterAppender.