Asynchronous Logging via PyZMQ

See also

Python provides extensible logging facilities through its logging module. This module allows for easily extensible logging functionality through the use of Handler objects. The most obvious case for hooking up pyzmq to logging would be to broadcast log messages over a PUB socket, so we have provided a PUBHandler class for doing just that.

You can use PyZMQ as a log handler with no previous knowledge of how ZMQ works, and without writing any ZMQ-specific code in your Python project.

Getting Started

Ensure you have installed the pyzmq package from pip, ideally in a virtual environment you created for your project:

pip install pyzmq

Next, configure logging in your Python module and setup the ZMQ log handler:

import logging
from zmq.log.handlers import PUBHandler

zmq_log_handler = PUBHandler('tcp://')
logger = logging.getLogger()

Usually, you will add the handler only once in the top-level module of your project, on the root logger, just as we did here.

You can choose any IP address and port number that works on your system. We used tcp:// to broadcast events via TCP on the localhost interface at port 12345. Make note of what you choose here as you will need it later when you listen to the events.

Logging messages works exactly like normal. This will send an INFO-level message on the logger we configured above, and that message will be published on a ZMQ PUB/SUB socket:'hello world!')

You can use this module’s built-in command line interface to “tune in” to messages broadcast by the log handler. To start the log watcher, run this command from a shell that has access to the pyzmq package (usually a virtual environment):

python -m zmq.log tcp://

Then, in a separate process, run your Python module that emits log messages. You should see them appear almost immediately.

Using the Log Watcher

The included log watcher command line utility is helpful not only for viewing messages, but also a programming guide to build your own ZMQ subscriber for log messages.

To see what options are available, pass the --help parameter:

python -m zmq.log --help

The log watcher includes features to add a timestamp to the messages, align the messages across different error levels, and even colorize the output based on error level.

Slow Joiner Problem

The great thing about using ZMQ sockets is that you can start the publisher and subscribers in any order, and you can start & stop any of them while you leave the others running.

When using ZMQ for logging, this means you can leave the log watcher running while you start & stop your main Python module.

However, you need to be aware of what the ZMQ project calls the “slow joiner problem” . To oversimplify, it means it can take a bit of time for subscribers to re-connect to a publisher that has just started up again. If the publisher starts and immediately sends a message, subscribers will likely miss it.

The simplistic workaround when using PyZMQ for logging is to sleep() briefly after startup, before sending any log messages. See the complete example below for more details.

Custom Log Formats

A common Python logging recipe encourages use of the current module name as the name of the logger. This allows your log messages to reflect your code hierarchy in a larger project with minimal configuration.

You will need to set a different formatter to see these names in your ZMQ-published logs. The setFormatter() method accepts a logging.Formatter instance and optionally a log level to apply the handler to. For example:

zmq_log_handler = PUBHandler('tcp://')
zmq_log_handler.setFormatter(logging.Formatter(fmt='{name} > {message}', style='{'))
zmq_log_handler.setFormatter(logging.Formatter(fmt='{name} #{lineno:>3} > {message}', style='{'), logging.DEBUG)

Root Topic

By default, the PUBHandler and log watcher use the empty string as the root topic for published messages. This works well out-of-the-box, but you can easily set a different root topic string to take advantage of ZMQ’s built-in topic filtering mechanism.

First, set the root topic on the handler:

zmq_log_handler = PUBHandler(‘tcp://’) zmq_log_handler.setRootTopic(‘custom_topic’)

Then specify that topic when you start the log watcher:

python -m zmq.log -t custom_topic tcp://

Complete example

Assuming this project hierarchy:

If you have this in

import logging
from time import sleep
from zmq.log.handlers import PUBHandler

from greetings import hello

zmq_log_handler = PUBHandler('tcp://')
zmq_log_handler.setFormatter(logging.Formatter(fmt='{name} > {message}', style='{'))
zmq_log_handler.setFormatter(logging.Formatter(fmt='{name} #{lineno:>3} > {message}', style='{'), logging.DEBUG)

logger = logging.getLogger()

if __name__ == '__main__':
    msg_count = 5
    logger.warning('Preparing to greet the world...')
    for i in range(1,msg_count+1):
        logger.debug('Sending message {} of {}'.format(i,msg_count))

And this in

import logging

logger = logging.getLogger(__name__)

def world():'hello world!')

You can start a log watcher in one process:

python -m zmq.log -t greeter --align tcp://

And then run in another process:


You should see the following output from the log watcher:

greeter.WARNING | root > Preparing to greet the world...
greeter.DEBUG   | root # 21 > Sending message 1 of 5
greeter.INFO    | greetings.hello > hello world!
greeter.DEBUG   | root # 21 > Sending message 2 of 5
greeter.INFO    | greetings.hello > hello world!
greeter.DEBUG   | root # 21 > Sending message 3 of 5
greeter.INFO    | greetings.hello > hello world!
greeter.DEBUG   | root # 21 > Sending message 4 of 5
greeter.INFO    | greetings.hello > hello world!
greeter.DEBUG   | root # 21 > Sending message 5 of 5
greeter.INFO    | greetings.hello > hello world!
greeter.INFO    | root > Done!

PUB/SUB and Topics

The ØMQ PUB/SUB pattern consists of a PUB socket broadcasting messages, and a collection of SUB sockets that receive those messages. Each PUB message is a multipart-message, where the first part is interpreted as a topic. SUB sockets can subscribe to topics by setting their SUBSCRIBE sockopt, e.g.:

sub = ctx.socket(zmq.SUB)
sub.setsockopt(zmq.SUBSCRIBE, 'topic1')
sub.setsockopt(zmq.SUBSCRIBE, 'topic2')

When subscribed, the SUB socket will only receive messages where the first part starts with one of the topics set via SUBSCRIBE. The default behavior is to exclude all messages, and subscribing to the empty string ‘’ will receive all messages.


The PUBHandler object is created for allowing the python logging to be emitted on a PUB socket. The main difference between a PUBHandler and a regular logging Handler is the inclusion of topics. For the most basic logging, you can simply create a PUBHandler with an interface or a configured PUB socket, and just let it go:

pub = context.socket(zmq.PUB)
handler = PUBHandler(pub)
logger = logging.getLogger()

At this point, all messages logged with the default logger will be broadcast on the pub socket.

the PUBHandler does work with topics, and the handler has an attribute root_topic:

handler.root_topic = 'myprogram'

Python loggers also have loglevels. The base topic of messages emitted by the PUBHandler will be of the form: <handler.root_topic>.<loglevel>, e.g. ‘myprogram.INFO’ or ‘whatever.ERROR’. This way, subscribers can easily subscribe to subsets of the logging messages. Log messages are always two-part, where the first part is the topic tree, and the second part is the actual log message.

>>>'hello there')
>>> print sub.recv_multipart()
['myprogram.INFO', 'hello there']


You can also add to the topic tree below the loglevel on an individual message basis. Assuming your logger is connected to a PUBHandler, you can add as many additional topics on the front of the message, which will be added always after the loglevel. A special delimiter defined at zmq.log.handlers.TOPIC_DELIM is scanned by the PUBHandler, so if you pass your own subtopics prior to that symbol, they will be stripped from the message and added to the topic tree:

>>> log_msg  = "hello there"
>>> subtopic = "sub.topic"
>>> msg = zmq.log.handlers.TOPIC_DELIM.join([subtopic, log_msg])
>>> logger.warn(msg)
>>> print sub.recv_multipart()
['myprogram.WARN.sub.topic', 'hello there']