Original post

Package eris provides a better way to handle, trace, and log errors in . This package is inspired by a few existing packages: xerrors, pkg/errors, and Go 1.13 errors.

go get github.com/rotisserie/eris

Check out the package docs for more detailed information or connect with us on our Slack channel if you want to discuss anything in depth.

How is eris different?

Named after the Greek goddess of strife and discord, this package is intended to give you more control over error handling via error wrapping, stack tracing, and output formatting. Basic error wrapping was added in Go 1.13, but it omitted user-friendly Wrap methods and built-in stack tracing. Other error packages provide some of the features found in eris but without flexible control over error output formatting. This package provides default string and JSON formatters with options to control things like separators and stack trace output. However, it also provides an option to write custom formatters via eris.Unpack.

Error wrapping behaves somewhat differently than existing packages. It relies on root errors that contain a full stack trace and wrap errors that contain a single stack frame. When errors from other packages are wrapped, a root error is automatically created before wrapping it with the new context. This allows eris to work with other error packages transparently and elimates the need to manage stack traces manually. Unlike other packages, eris also works well with global error types by automatically updating stack traces during error wrapping.

Types of errors

eris is concerned with only three different types of errors: root errors, wrap errors, and external errors. Root and wrap errors are defined types in this package and all other error types are external or third-party errors.

Root errors are created via eris.New and eris.Errorf. Generally, it’s a good idea to maintain a set of root errors that are then wrapped with additional context whenever an error of that type occurs. Wrap errors represent a stack of errors that have been wrapped with additional context. Unwrapping these errors via eris.Unwrap will return the next error in the stack until a root error is reached. eris.Cause will also retrieve the root error.

When external error types are wrapped with additional context, a root error is first created from the original error. This creates a stack trace for the error and allows it to function with the rest of the eris package.

Wrapping errors with additional context

eris.Wrap adds context to an error while preserving the type of the original error. This method behaves differently for each error type. For root errors, the stack trace is reset to the current callers which ensures traces are correct when using global/sentinel error values. Wrapped error types are simply wrapped with the new context. For external types (i.e. something other than root or wrap errors), a new root error is created for the original error and then it’s wrapped with the additional context.

_, err := db.Get(id)
if err != nil {
  // return the error with some useful context
  return eris.Wrapf(err, "error getting resource '%v'", id)

Inspecting error types

The eris package provides a few ways to inspect and compare error types. eris.Is returns true if a particular error appears anywhere in the error chain, and eris.Cause returns the root cause of the error. Currently, eris.Is works simply by comparing error messages with each other. If an error contains a particular message anywhere in its chain (e.g. “not found”), it’s defined to be that error type (i.e. eris.Is will return true).

NotFound := eris.New("not found")
_, err := db.Get(id)
// check if the resource was not found
if eris.Is(err, NotFound) || eris.Cause(err) == NotFound {
  // return the error with some useful context
  return eris.Wrapf(err, "error getting resource '%v'", id)

Stack traces

Errors created with this package contain stack traces that are managed automatically even when wrapping global errors or errors from other libraries. Stack traces are currently mandatory when creating and wrapping errors but optional when printing or logging errors. Printing an error with or without the stack trace is simple:

_, err := db.Get(id)
if err != nil {
  return eris.Wrapf(err, "error getting resource '%v'", id)
fmt.Printf("%v", err) // print without the stack trace
fmt.Printf("%+v", err) // print with the stack trace

For an error that has been wrapped once, the output will look something like this:

# output without the stack trace
error getting resource 'example-id': not found

# output with the stack trace
error getting resource 'example-id'
  api.GetResource: /path/to/file/api.go: 30
not found
  api.GetResource: /path/to/file/api.go: 30
  db.Get: /path/to/file/db.go: 99
  runtime.goexit: /path/to/go/src/libexec/src/runtime/asm_amd64.s: 1337

The first layer of the full error output shows a message (“error getting resource ‘example-id'”) and a single stack frame. The next layer shows the root error (“not found”) and the full stack trace.

Formatted error printing

The default format in eris is returned by the method NewDefaultFormat(). Below you can see what a default formatted error in eris might look like.

Errors printed without trace using fmt.Printf("%vn", err)

even more context: additional context: root error

Errors printed with trace using fmt.Printf("%+vn", err)

even more context
        eris_test.setupTestCase: ../eris/eris_test.go: 17
additional context
        eris_test.setupTestCase: ../eris/eris_test.go: 17
root error
        eris_test.setupTestCase: ../eris/eris_test.go: 17
        eris_test.TestErrorFormatting: ../eris/eris_test.go: 226
        testing.tRunner: ../go1.11.4/src/testing/testing.go: 827
        runtime.goexit: ../go1.11.4/src/runtime/asm_amd64.s: 1333

‘eris’ also provides developers a way to define a custom format to print the errors. The Format object defines separators for various components of the error/trace and can be passed to utility methods for printing string and JSON formats.

Error object

The UnpackedError object provides a convenient and developer friendly way to store and access existing error traces. The ErrChain and ErrRoot fields correspond to wrapError and rootError types, respectively. If any other error type is unpacked, it will appear in the ExternalErr field.

The Unpack() method returns the corresponding UnpackedError object for a given error. This object can also be converted to string and JSON for logging and printing error traces. This can be done by using the methods ToString() and ToJSON(). Note the ToJSON() method returns a map[string]interface{} type which can be marshalled to JSON using the encoding/json package.

Logging errors with more control

While eris supports logging errors with Go’s fmt package, it’s often advantageous to use the provided string and JSON formatters instead. These methods provide much more control over the error output and should work seamlessly with whatever logging package you choose. The example below shows how to integrate eris with (logrus)[https://github.com/sirupsen/logrus].

var fields log.Fields
unpackedErr := eris.Unpack(err)
fields["method"] = "api.GetResource"
fields["error"] = unpackedErr.ToJSON(eris.NewDefaultFormat(true))
logger.WithFields(fields).Errorf("method completed with error (%v)", err)

When using a JSON logger, the output should look something like this:

    "error chain":[
        "message":"error getting resource 'example-id'",
        "stack":"api.GetResource: /path/to/file/api.go: 30"
    "error root":{
      "message":"not found",
        "api.GetResource: /path/to/file/api.go: 30",
        "db.Get: /path/to/file/db.go: 99",
        "runtime.goexit: /path/to/go/src/runtime/asm_amd64.s: 1337"

Migrating to eris

Migrating to eris should be a very simple process. If it doesn’t offer something that you currently use from existing error packages, feel free to submit an issue to us. If you don’t want to refactor all of your error handling yet, eris should work relatively seamlessly with your existing error types. Please submit an issue if this isn’t the case for some reason.


If you’d like to contribute to eris, we’d love your input! Please submit an issue first so we can discuss your proposal. We’re also available to discuss potential issues and features on our Slack channel.