IBM WebSphere Application Server: FFDC File Browser

The IBM WebSphere Application Server FFDC Browser enables end users to navigate in realtime directly into the FFDC logs, utilizing an organized user interface that greatly eases access to these key diagnostic files. The FFDC browser works in both Application Server Base and ND topologies and now also in Liberty. It organizes FFDCs in chronological order, by server and translates server exception summary logs into lists of exception types. The logs can be filtered by file pattern, date range and on zOS by STC number for the FFDCs of a given servant. For ND configurations, the tool can scan the topology dynamically generating links to all nodes in the cell, so that the FFDCs of each node can be viewed. The FFDC browser works on both distributed and zOS platforms.

David Cohen (dacohen@us.ibm.com), Advisory Software Engineer, IBM

David Cohen is an advisory software engineer at IBM in Poughkeepsie, NY. He has been a member of the WebSphere Application Server for z/OS test application development team for ten years. Dave has developed applications that exercise all aspects of WebSphere functionality including WOLA. He holds a Masters degree in Computer Science from Marist College. In his spare time, Dave enjoys woodworking, playing with his children, cycling, and hiking.



22 July 2011

The IBM® WebSphere® Application Server FFDC Browser enables end users to navigate in realtime directly into the FFDC logs, utilizing an organized user interface that greatly eases access to these key diagnostic files. The FFDC browser works in both Application Server Base and ND topologies. It organizes FFDCs in chronological order, by server and translates server exception summary logs into lists of exception types. The logs can be filtered by file pattern, date range and on zOS by STC number for the FFDCs of a given servant. For ND configurations, the tool can scan the topology dynamically generating links to all nodes in the cell, so that the FFDCs of each node can be viewed. The FFDC browser works on both distributed and zOS platforms.

The FFDC file browser tool enables remote access into a WebSphere Application Server installation for problem determination, providing visibility into both FFDC and WAS system log files. The ear file and a sample script for installing the application is attached below.

It is supported on WebSphere Application Server Version 7 and later.

Deployment

The FFDC Tool is a lightweight web application consisting primarily of servlet components. There are no dependencies; it has no Java EE resource requirements. In our test environments we automatically install this small EAR file in one application server in each node of the ND topology using admin scripting (see the sample script below). This enables all of the generated links from the tool’s ND scan function to resolve to a valid starting URL (http://server:port/LV) for the tool in any given node.

Figure 1 shows the start panel.

Figure 1. FFDC Browser: start panel
start panel for the FFDC browser

Figure 2 shows the various filters that can be used to narrow down the list of FFDC logs. Filtering by simple file name pattern is very effective, for example when a stack trace and FFDC are emitted in the app server log (SystemOut or Servant log on zOS) any part of the file name can be pasted in the “filefilter” data entry field and the list of FFDCs will be narrowed to files containing that file pattern. Date ranges and STC numbers (zOS) for servant job logs can also be used to narrow the list of FFDC logs that can be selected.

Figure 2. FFDC Browser: ffdc log selection and filtering panel
screen shot showing log selection panel

Figure 3 shows a list of exceptions that have been translated from the FFDC summary log. The count of occurrences of the exception type and the time of the last occurrence are listed from left to right. By selecting the exception type from the drop down, the associated FFDC log for the exception will be displayed.

Figure 3. FFDC Browser: ffdc exception types from summary log
screen shots showing exception types

Figure 4 shows that the tool also enables navigation and display of other server log files such as System.err.log, System.out.log, trace, start server and stop server files. Any files over 1mb in size may require additional time to display in the browser and will be flagged in red, since the tooling is primarily designed for FFDC viewing, the files will generally not be too large. To get to SystemErr and SystemOut logs select a server from the top drop down entitled: “Server log directories.”

Figure 4. FFDC Browser: server logs
screen shot of server logs

Figure 5 shows the generated links from Scan Topology for WebSphere Application Server ND. The scan topology requires basic authentication. Supply the same credentials used to log in to the WebSphere admin console. The scan topology function provides a set of hyperlinks out to each active node where the tool is installed and operational in an ND topology. It is recommended to use admin scripting to get the tool installed into every node in your topology. See attached install script for download.

Figure 5. FFDC Browser: generated links from Scan Topology for ND
screen shot showing generated links

The scan topology function provides a set of hyperlinks out to each active node where the tool is installed and operational in an ND topology. It is recommended to use admin scripting to get the tool installed into every node in your topology. See the install script for a download.

You must have both Global and Application security enabled. Application Security will activate the basic authentication prompt required to obtain the security credentials. The FFDC Browser tool assumes that the “administrator” role is configured properly and that the client identity entered on the basic authentication prompt has access to this role. Having this security will prevent external access to your WebSphere installation’s file system.

Downloads

DescriptionNameSize
FFDC Browser and Admin Scriptlv.ear94KB
FFDC Browser for Liberty/Server.xml stanza sampleLLV.ear94KB
static.content.url=http://www.ibm.com/developerworks/js/artrating/
SITE_ID=1
Zone=WebSphere
ArticleID=733584
SummaryTitle=IBM WebSphere Application Server: FFDC File Browser
publish-date=07222011