My web application is supposed to display the trace and a error report after process and shows for each uploaded files all the errors and operations accomplished. Here's a simplified and really reduced current exemple of this report, nothing is irrevocable (just to give you an idea). The real log display errors for around 30 files and around 3-7 lines of errors per file, but sometimes only one file can be uploaded (with or without errors).

[START] 7/22/2013 8:20:12 AM
[UPLOAD] 'Name of my file.ext'
[EXTRACT] ExampleLog complete (235)
[ERROR] Line : 38 - Invalid Template
[ERROR] Line : 115 - Missing Resource : 'JOHN SMITH'
[INSERT] ExampleLog inserted (125)
[UPLOAD] 'Another File Name.xxx'
[EXTRACT] ExampleLog complete (27)
[ERROR] Line : 38 - Missing ID
[INSERT] ExampleLog inserted (26)
[EXTRACT] TestLog complete (43)
[ERROR] Line : 20 - Invalid Template
[ERROR] Line : 24 - Invalid Budget Code : 'XX-XXXX'
[ERROR] Line : 25 - Invalid Budget Code : 'XXXX' (Current Budget Line : 'YY-YYYY')
[ERROR] Line : 26 - Invalid Budget Code : '123456'
[WARNING] Line : 48 - Missing Department : 'DPT-CHECK'
[INSERT] TestLog inserted (0)
[END] 7/22/2013 8:30:09 AM

This application will be use by around thirty co-workers and need to be user friendly. They have some knowledge in computer science and use to work with web application. The main prority is to make this logs understandable but I don't want something too austere. This application will be used one to three times in a month by each user. Users will be trained a little bit in the application but this logs are just a tiny part of the app.

I tought about a color/code but the logs just look like an unreadable rainbow. How to properly display this logs and create something intuitive and revelant ?

  • Hi Alex - the answer kind of depends on your users. Are they technical or not? Are they frequent users of this application, or is this process a one-time event for any single user? If you could put some of this information into your question it'll help people to answer. Commented Jul 22, 2013 at 9:53
  • 1
    @vincebowdren Thanks for the advice. I add more details on the usage and users of the application.
    – Alex
    Commented Jul 22, 2013 at 11:10

1 Answer 1


Some starting points for developing the log system.

  • Log system should provide easy access to errors. Users are rarely interested in reading log line by line, they rather perform some scanning or jumping behavior patterns. Easy to implement.
  • Log sysem could provide the means to correct errors. It is a good practice not only inform but also provide the ability to fix errors. Implementation can be hard.

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Some tips on the efficient log system:

  • Wrap all the messages for each file in one line.
  • Display all the files in folded state.
  • Color code the files which contain error to attend user to the problem points.
  • Organize effective workflow with files, containing errors. Fold all the records except the current. Each time the single problem is worked on. First record which contains errors is auto-unfolded, i.e. ready to work.
  • Make current working area more distinct visually to focus user's attention.
  • Provide task-relevant tools for user to fix errors or perform some needed actions (not shown here, besides hyperlinks to error lines).

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