Time Synchronization

Events in an audit log must be ordered

A good audit log should record a synchronized timestamp that allows an end customer to determine with a high level of confidence:

  • The human-readable time an event occured,for example: “sheet.create occurred at 2017-01-01 17:45:22.011”
  • The ordering of events, for example: “sheet.create occured before sheet.update”

Wall Time vs. Causal Ordering

It’s not always possible to have both a human-readable “wall time” and a causally consistent sequencing of events. When forced to trade between a human-readable wall time and a causally consistent sequencing of events, an Audit Log should favor causal consistency over a precise wall time. In a best-case scenario, protocols like Network Time Protocol (NTP) can allow for a high level of accuracy in both.

Recording Time in an Audit Log

The Publisher API allows clients to specify a created time for any event. In addition to allowing clients to report event timing, the Publisher API will record an NTP-synchronized received timestamp for all events.