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Write to Windows Application Event Log without registering an Event Source

Posted by: admin November 29, 2017 Leave a comment

Questions:

Is there a way to write to this event log:

enter image description here

Or at least, some other Windows default log, where I don’t have to register an event source?

Answers:

Yes, there is a way to write to the event log you are looking for. You don’t need to create a new source, just simply use the existent one, which often has the same name as the EventLog’s name and also, in some cases like the event log Application, can be accessible without administrative privileges*.

*Other cases, where you cannot access it directly, are the Security EventLog, for example, which is only accessed by the operating system.

I used this code to write directly to the event log Application:

using (EventLog eventLog = new EventLog("Application")) 
{
    eventLog.Source = "Application"; 
    eventLog.WriteEntry("Log message example", EventLogEntryType.Information, 101, 1); 
}

As you can see, the EventLog source is the same as the EventLog’s name. The reason of this can be found in Event Sources @ Windows Dev Center (I bolded the part which refers to source name):

Each log in the Eventlog key contains subkeys called event sources. The event source is the name of the software that logs the event. It is often the name of the application or the name of a subcomponent of the application if the application is large. You can add a maximum of 16,384 event sources to the registry.

Questions:
Answers:

This is the logger class that I use. The private Log() method has EventLog.WriteEntry() in it, which is how you actually write to the event log. I’m including all of this code here because it’s handy. In addition to logging, this class will also make sure the message isn’t too long to write to the event log (it will truncate the message). If the message was too long, you’d get an exception. The caller can also specify the source. If the caller doesn’t, this class will get the source. Hope it helps.

By the way, you can get an ObjectDumper from the web. I didn’t want to post all that here. I got mine from here: C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio 10.0\Samples\1033\CSharpSamples.zip\LinqSamples\ObjectDumper

using System;
using System.Diagnostics;
using System.Diagnostics.CodeAnalysis;
using System.Globalization;
using System.Linq;
using System.Reflection;
using Xanico.Core.Utilities;

namespace Xanico.Core
{
    /// <summary>
    /// Logging operations
    /// </summary>
    public static class Logger
    {
        // Note: The actual limit is higher than this, but different Microsoft operating systems actually have
        //       different limits. So just use 30,000 to be safe.
        private const int MaxEventLogEntryLength = 30000;

        /// <summary>
        /// Gets or sets the source/caller. When logging, this logger class will attempt to get the
        /// name of the executing/entry assembly and use that as the source when writing to a log.
        /// In some cases, this class can't get the name of the executing assembly. This only seems
        /// to happen though when the caller is in a separate domain created by its caller. So,
        /// unless you're in that situation, there is no reason to set this. However, if there is
        /// any reason that the source isn't being correctly logged, just set it here when your
        /// process starts.
        /// </summary>
        public static string Source { get; set; }

        /// <summary>
        /// Logs the message, but only if debug logging is true.
        /// </summary>
        /// <param name="message">The message.</param>
        /// <param name="debugLoggingEnabled">if set to <c>true</c> [debug logging enabled].</param>
        /// <param name="source">The name of the app/process calling the logging method. If not provided,
        /// an attempt will be made to get the name of the calling process.</param>
        public static void LogDebug(string message, bool debugLoggingEnabled, string source = "")
        {
            if (debugLoggingEnabled == false) { return; }

            Log(message, EventLogEntryType.Information, source);
        }

        /// <summary>
        /// Logs the information.
        /// </summary>
        /// <param name="message">The message.</param>
        /// <param name="source">The name of the app/process calling the logging method. If not provided,
        /// an attempt will be made to get the name of the calling process.</param>
        public static void LogInformation(string message, string source = "")
        {
            Log(message, EventLogEntryType.Information, source);
        }

        /// <summary>
        /// Logs the warning.
        /// </summary>
        /// <param name="message">The message.</param>
        /// <param name="source">The name of the app/process calling the logging method. If not provided,
        /// an attempt will be made to get the name of the calling process.</param>
        public static void LogWarning(string message, string source = "")
        {
            Log(message, EventLogEntryType.Warning, source);
        }

        /// <summary>
        /// Logs the exception.
        /// </summary>
        /// <param name="ex">The ex.</param>
        /// <param name="source">The name of the app/process calling the logging method. If not provided,
        /// an attempt will be made to get the name of the calling process.</param>
        public static void LogException(Exception ex, string source = "")
        {
            if (ex == null) { throw new ArgumentNullException("ex"); }

            if (Environment.UserInteractive)
            {
                Console.WriteLine(ex.ToString());
            }

            Log(ex.ToString(), EventLogEntryType.Error, source);
        }

        /// <summary>
        /// Recursively gets the properties and values of an object and dumps that to the log.
        /// </summary>
        /// <param name="theObject">The object to log</param>
        [SuppressMessage("Microsoft.Globalization", "CA1303:Do not pass literals as localized parameters", MessageId = "Xanico.Core.Logger.Log(System.String,System.Diagnostics.EventLogEntryType,System.String)")]
        [SuppressMessage("Microsoft.Naming", "CA1720:IdentifiersShouldNotContainTypeNames", MessageId = "object")]
        public static void LogObjectDump(object theObject, string objectName, string source = "")
        {
            const int objectDepth = 5;
            string objectDump = ObjectDumper.GetObjectDump(theObject, objectDepth);

            string prefix = string.Format(CultureInfo.CurrentCulture,
                                          "{0} object dump:{1}",
                                          objectName,
                                          Environment.NewLine);

            Log(prefix + objectDump, EventLogEntryType.Warning, source);
        }

        private static void Log(string message, EventLogEntryType entryType, string source)
        {
            // Note: I got an error that the security log was inaccessible. To get around it, I ran the app as administrator
            //       just once, then I could run it from within VS.

            if (string.IsNullOrWhiteSpace(source))
            {
                source = GetSource();
            }

            string possiblyTruncatedMessage = EnsureLogMessageLimit(message);
            EventLog.WriteEntry(source, possiblyTruncatedMessage, entryType);

            // If we're running a console app, also write the message to the console window.
            if (Environment.UserInteractive)
            {
                Console.WriteLine(message);
            }
        }

        private static string GetSource()
        {
            // If the caller has explicitly set a source value, just use it.
            if (!string.IsNullOrWhiteSpace(Source)) { return Source; }

            try
            {
                var assembly = Assembly.GetEntryAssembly();

                // GetEntryAssembly() can return null when called in the context of a unit test project.
                // That can also happen when called from an app hosted in IIS, or even a windows service.

                if (assembly == null)
                {
                    assembly = Assembly.GetExecutingAssembly();
                }


                if (assembly == null)
                {
                    // From http://stackoverflow.com/a/14165787/279516:
                    assembly = new StackTrace().GetFrames().Last().GetMethod().Module.Assembly;
                }

                if (assembly == null) { return "Unknown"; }

                return assembly.GetName().Name;
            }
            catch
            {
                return "Unknown";
            }
        }

        // Ensures that the log message entry text length does not exceed the event log viewer maximum length of 32766 characters.
        private static string EnsureLogMessageLimit(string logMessage)
        {
            if (logMessage.Length > MaxEventLogEntryLength)
            {
                string truncateWarningText = string.Format(CultureInfo.CurrentCulture, "... | Log Message Truncated [ Limit: {0} ]", MaxEventLogEntryLength);

                // Set the message to the max minus enough room to add the truncate warning.
                logMessage = logMessage.Substring(0, MaxEventLogEntryLength - truncateWarningText.Length);

                logMessage = string.Format(CultureInfo.CurrentCulture, "{0}{1}", logMessage, truncateWarningText);
            }

            return logMessage;
        }
    }
}

Questions:
Answers:

You can using the EventLog class, as explained on How to: Write to the Application Event Log (Visual C#):

var appLog = new EventLog("Application");
appLog.Source = "MySource";
appLog.WriteEntry("Test log message");

However, you’ll need to configure this source “MySource” using administrative privileges:

Use WriteEvent and WriteEntry to write events to an event log. You must specify an event source to write events; you must create and configure the event source before writing the first entry with the source.

Questions:
Answers:

As stated in MSDN (eg. https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/system.diagnostics.eventlog(v=vs.110).aspx ), checking an non existing source and creating a source requires admin privilege.

It is however possible to use the source “Application” without.
In my test under Windows 2012 Server r2, I however get the following log entry using “Application” source:

The description for Event ID xxxx from source Application cannot be found. Either the component that raises this event is not installed on your local computer or the installation is corrupted. You can install or repair the component on the local computer.
If the event originated on another computer, the display information had to be saved with the event.
The following information was included with the event:
{my event entry message}
the message resource is present but the message is not found in the string/message table

I defined the following method to create the source:

    private string CreateEventSource(string currentAppName)
    {
        string eventSource = currentAppName;
        bool sourceExists;
        try
        {
            // searching the source throws a security exception ONLY if not exists!
            sourceExists = EventLog.SourceExists(eventSource);
            if (!sourceExists)
            {   // no exception until yet means the user as admin privilege
                EventLog.CreateEventSource(eventSource, "Application");
            }
        }
        catch (SecurityException)
        {
            eventSource = "Application";
        }

        return eventSource;
    }

I am calling it with currentAppName = AppDomain.CurrentDomain.FriendlyName

It might be possible to use the EventLogPermission class instead of this try/catch but not sure we can avoid the catch.

It is also possible to create the source externally, e.g in elevated Powershell:

New-EventLog -LogName Application -Source MyApp

Then, using ‘MyApp’ in the method above will NOT generate exception and the EventLog can be created with that source.

Questions:
Answers:

try

   System.Diagnostics.EventLog appLog = new System.Diagnostics.EventLog();
   appLog.Source = "This Application's Name";
   appLog.WriteEntry("An entry to the Application event log.");