Retrospective Log Viewer & Analyzer

15 minutes to Retrospective

My running playlist on my iPod comprises around 81 tracks which totals in over 5 hours of music. The first three songs on the list sum up to precisely 15'02". Why am I sharing this you may wonder? Well, I'm going to see whether it's in fact possible to install and configure Retrospective in 15 minutes. This means I should be done by the time the third track ends.

In this scenario I'll be configuring Retrospective for a small environment for software development purposes which includes local jboss server, remote demo server machine and continuous integration server. Additionally I’ll be adding logs of the machines in our test bed which run regression tests and some more local logs for troubleshooting the old version of our software. I'm using a midrange business grade laptop sporting Intel Core i2520, 4GB of RAM and rather slow 5400rpm HDD all that running Windows 7 Professional. I've already downloaded Retrospective installation binaries and gathered information (IP addresses, access ports on which SSH connection is available and login credentials if necessary) on all remote systems that I’ll be needing.

I’m pressing play…

Installation process is very straight forward. Accept the license agreement, choose the target installation folder on your local file system, add start menu entry and desktop icon, choose whether you want a separate start menu folder or not. About seven clicks after triggering the installation I have Retrospective installed and I’m about 2 minutes 30 seconds into the first song. I’m off to a pretty good start.

Now it’s time to add some log files definitions.

I’m going to use the configuration wizard available among the quick access buttons at the top or under menu item File -> Quick and Easy Configuration, to define local and remote log files. I’ll start from those stored locally. For that I’m clicking the [Add Files] button which opens log files selection window. I drag and drop jboss log files (both boot and server logs), as well as a bunch of log files for the application I mentioned before. This way I’m done with my local log files needs and the first song isn’t even over yet. Now let’s add those remote log files definitions, shall we?

I click the [Add remote files] and I’m greeted by the SSH connection definition window. I copy - paste IP address of our demo machine from my cheat sheet and type in the login and password combination for authentication. After establishing remote connection I browse the server contents in search for desired jboss log files. Found them just where expected. Continuous integration sever log files are next. Same procedure applies here: I define remote connection to the IP address along with login credentials I got from our system administrator and once connected I add a bunch of log files which will be helpful in investigating problems with daily builds and functional tests runs. One more and I’m done. I define yet another host connection and add various log files that I may need later today.

I close the wizard window and I’m ready to start using the Retrospective. The third track has still a whole  minute left before it ends which means that if I had a stop watch it would be showing 14:02. I know that I don’t have the need to define an overwhelming number of log files, but even if I did it wouldn’t take that much longer to setup the Retrospective. I’d like to see another logging solution which could do that.

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