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Field Level Change Logging

I know over the years I've found myself occasionally saying, "With more digging, I think I could work out exactly..." This usually arises after I've been asked to figure out how a student or a COE got to be the way it is. For all of the desktop and tablet machines that periodically upload, we've always had very good evidence left around about who changed what when in the form of transaction files. Everything that came in from the field could only come in through these files, so whatever happened had to be contained in them somehow. It often took a good bit of digging, but we could pinpoint exactly what happened. But for changes made directly on the state system, we couldn't depend on this mechanism since the state doesn't upload to itself. But at the state level, we always had good backups that we could rely on to let us see when things changed, and since there are very few people who have direct access to the state, we could usually work out what happened.

But the web system presented new challenges. With it, everything happens on the state machine. And it could have happened from a large number of users. We've always had some logging for every request that comes into the web server, but it is far from easy to sift through this trying to figure out who changed what. Now that Michigan has transitioned to a fully web-only system, at least until they get their recruiters up on tablets, we had more reason than ever to be able to answer questions like this quickly and clearly. So I decided to write a completely new change logging system. As this works its way out to production, we'll now have the ability to really pinpoint every single change to the database, from this to that, and who did it down to the second.

So hopefully, you'll never hear me say, "With more digging..." anymore, and I'll be able to sleep a bit better now.

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