20. Feb. 2016 by Marek
After the last, fine release it was clear that Retrospective is a one fine stable performance beast that can handle challenges of enterprise environments with calmness and grace. However, since we strive for perfection, we can always easily find some new dimensions for improvement. Release 3.6.0 once again produces the fruit of such an attitude. In the past few months we focused on making the user’s life easier by providing several cool features that can easily transform even the most tedious kind of searching into a painless smooth ride. Yes, I agree, it is hard to believe … but let me just mention the main points to make you a believer:
Automatic time offset adjustment – how often did your servers have problems with time synchronization or were simply located in different time zones. Automatic time offset adjustment allows you to forget about this by firstly detecting the time difference and then applying counteraction so that the difference is invisible to the user.
Custom log level definition – sometimes your log files may have quite exotic names for various log levels. So far Retrospective has tried to look for all possible log level name variations but it was not very efficient. Now you are able to define your own log levels, assign some fancy icons and colors and also specify how the levels are recognized. So you get the information about log levels in a suitable fashion and searching goes faster.
Splitting search results and saving to Excel – this can be extraordinarily useful when your search gives a lot of data. Now the results can be automatically split to several files and you can have them saved directly in Excel format where some further analysis can easily be performed.
File browser enhancements – if you use a Mac and you go to your home folder, then all hidden files are not visible. It’s quite handy because mostly you are not interested in these files. Now Retrospective lets you decide whether hidden files should be visible or not. Additionally special files like sockets and block devices are marked with dedicated icons, which makes navigation through your servers much more pleasant.
Adding/replacing time search criteria from selection – when you’re searching for something, then it’s common that one search result gives input for another searching and step-by-step you get closer to your final goal. Retrospective now allows you to easily extend and modify the time search criteria of new searching on the basis of entries visible in the current search. So now the transition from one step to another is really smooth.
Indeed, the features are cool and fun but most importantly they just really make your life easier. So these are the main points of 3.6.0 enhancements but as we all know, the main dish always has accompaniments. Therefore we also serve you several tasty side dishes … and who knows … maybe you’ll find them as tasty as the main course.
When you are making some redeployments of your application, then it is not uncommon that you want to monitor a file that appears only a few seconds after you started monitoring. You simply expect Retrospective to wait until the file appears and then start the monitoring. Previously we allowed you to make it work only when the path was specified with wildcards, but now you can have the same behavior for single files.
Everybody rolls the logs and compresses them to save precious disk space. In most typical cases a single log file is compressed to a single archive that frequently involves tarball (TAR) collection. In previous releases when you wanted to search many compressed tarballs with the use of time search criteria then search optimization was disabled because tarballs can have many files and it is hard to make assumptions about dates order of files inside tarball. Now we are checking how many files are present in the tarball and perform search optimization when there is only one file. This makes your searching a lot faster in the described typical cases.
Encoding detection is a tough task. It is based on some heuristics that look into the initial part of the file and then try to guess the encoding depending on the seen characters. Previously, Retrospective had problems with data sources created with the group selection – similar files coming from the same source (e.g. the same application) have different encoding detected (e.g UTF-8 and ISO-8859-1) and the user was forced to correct it manually. Now the encoding detection performed during Autofind has been improved and you should not experience encoding mismatch anymore when working on files from the same source.
When it comes to Autofind improvements, then we have also ensured that the Autofind performed in the Configure Source dialog gives almost exactly the same results as the Autofind triggered in the Profile Manager. So no more surprises with having different results when you try to modify your data source and want to trigger Autofind once again during source configuration.
Another neat improvement of 3.6.0 is displaying of XML files in the Details Pane. Retrospective was already formatting and highlighting XML in a nice way but it did not handle cases well when multiple XML chunks were present in a single log entry. Now even such cases are nicely supported and it’s more pleasant to go through your full-of-XML files.
Besides adding new features we have done some minor bug fixing. We are confident that Retrospective is a stable and dependable piece of software that can serve you in the most demanding situations. Should you take all the above on faith? Not at all! The 3.6.0 release is ready to be grabbed and it simply challenges you to try it and check for yourself that once again good engineering has been delivered and your searching can be far smoother and more painless than before.