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Free Tool for SharePoint - ULS Log Viewer

Posted By:Jean Paul       Posted Date: June 30, 2013    Points: 200    Category: SharePoint    URL: http://www.dotnetspark.com  

In this article we can explore the SharePoint 2010 free tool ULS Log Viewer. This is a tool from Microsoft and we are free to use it, but there is no customer support for any issues or queries.


In this article we can explore the SharePoint 2010 free tool ULS Log Viewer.  This is a tool from Microsoft and we are free to use it, but there is no customer support for any issues or queries.

What is Logging?

Eventually in the life cycle of a SharePoint deployment the Administrator and Developer need to look into the log information of SharePoint.  There are basically 3 kinds of log information to look for.
1.  SharePoint 14 hive LOGS folder where the SharePoint log information is kept.
2.  IIS web application log files inside INETPUB LOGS folder
3.  Windows Event log where Service Application log information are kept.

What is ULS?

The ULS represents Unified Logging Service and it captures the following:
·  Exceptions of SharePoint
·  Logs by Applications
The unified logging is stored in .log files in 14 HIVE > LOGS folder.  The unified view helps in understanding the problem in the order of activities.
Note: SPDiagnosticsBase class in namespace Microsoft.SharePoint.Administration enables writing Trace Log in SharePoint 2010.  This is the preferred way for SharePoint 2010 and it includes WriteTrace() and WriteEvent()  methods to be overridden.

Who are the Intended Audience?

This tool can be used by following type of audience:
1.  SharePoint Administrators
2.  Developers
3.  Architects


You can download the tool from following location:
On opening the above link you should get the following page:

Click on the Downloads tab and download the file shown.


How to view the LOGS files?

We are actually interested in the first option of looking into the SharePoint 14 hive LOGS folder.  You can open the folder and see that there are a number of log files as shown below.
·  C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\Web Server Extensions\14\LOGS

The latest log file (sorted by date) should contain the latest log information as shown below:

So there involves a bit of clumsy tasks to view the log information of SharePoint. 

What are the Advantages of this Tool?

The ULS Log Viewer tool provides the following advantage:
1.  A better user interface to view the Log Information
2.  Filtering of log levels based on Basic, High, Verbose etc.
3.  Formatting of log information
4.  Real time Log Information Viewing
5.  Exporting of Log Information to CSV files
6.  Multiple Machine Log viewing
7.  It is Free

Starting with the Tool

After downloading you can execute the tool.  The main screen looks like as shown below.

Viewing a Log file

You can use the File > Open from > File menu to open a log file from the 14 hive LOGS folder.

As you can see there are Time, Server, Process, Product, Category, Level information for each rows listed.

Filtering the Rows

You can filter the rows using the tool bar buttons:

The rows will be filtered accordingly.



You can do Search or Find contents based on the text.
For example: SharePoint user interface shown an error message with a correlation ID.  You can use the GUID to Search in the log entries.
You can open the Search window from:
·  Edit menu > Find
·  Press Ctrl + F
The Search window looks like below:

Real time Tracing

Another advantage of the tool is Real Time Tracing.  We can see the real time log messages by watching the tool.
For monitoring a folder for real time log messages, use the File > Open From > ULS menu item.

On enabling ULS monitoring, the Notifications List contains the source log file which contains the new log entries.  Please note that the specified folder can contain multiple log files.
Click on the Notifications List to see the source file which contains new log entries.

Command Line

The real time mode can be started using command line too:
  ULSLogViewer.exe realtime:FolderPath

Exporting to File

We can also export the selected lines to a File using the context menu.


Smart Highlight

The Smart Highlight button on the toolbar enables highlighting the contents of similar texts.  For example placing the mouse over Medium should highlight all the entries of type Medium.

You need to click the Smart Highlight button to enable this view.




In this article we have explored the ULS Log Viewer tool.  In real life scenarios this tool should give time, cost & convenience advantages. 
You may configure the Windows Open With command to this tool for .log extensions.

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Further Readings:


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