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OpenTelemetry Nestjs Auto-Instrumentation Guide

Β· 7 min read
Ankit Anand
Vishal Sharma

Nestjs is a Nodejs framework for building scalable server-side applications with typescript. It makes use of frameworks like Express and Fastify to enable rapid development. It has gained wide popularity in recent times, and many applications are making use of the Nestjs framework.

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Monitoring your Nestjs application is critical for performance management. But setting up monitoring for Nestjs applications can get cumbersome requiring multiple libraries and patterns. That's where Opentelemetry comes in.

OpenTelemetry is the leading open-source standard for instrumenting your code to generate telemetry data that can be a one-stop solution for monitoring Nestjs applications.

OpenTelemetry is a set of tools, APIs, and SDKs used to instrument applications to create and manage telemetry data(Logs, metrics, and traces). It aims to make telemetry data(logs, metrics, and traces) a built-in feature of cloud-native software applications.

One of the biggest advantages of using OpenTelemetry is that it is vendor-agnostic. It can export data in multiple formats, which you can send to a backend of your choice.

In this article, we will use SigNoz as a backend. SigNoz is an open-source APM tool that can be used for both metrics and distributed tracing.

Let's get started and see how to use OpenTelemetry for a Nestjs application.

Running a Nestjs application with OpenTelemetry​

First, you need to install SigNoz. Data collected by OpenTelemetry will be sent to SigNoz for storage and visualization.

Installing SigNoz​

You can get started with SigNoz using just three commands at your terminal.

git clone -b main
cd signoz/deploy/

For detailed instructions, you can visit our documentation.

Deployment Docs

If you have installed SigNoz on your local host, you can access the UI at:Β http://localhost:3301

The application list shown in the dashboard is from a sample app called HOT R.O.D that comes bundled with the SigNoz installation package.

SigNoz dashboard
SigNoz dashboard - It shows services from a sample app that comes bundled with the installation

Instrumenting a sample Nestjs application with OpenTelemetry​

For instrumenting a Nestjs application with OpenTelemetry, you need to install the required OpenTelemetry packages first. Steps involved in instrumenting a Nestjs application with OpenTelemetry are as follows:

  1. Install below dependencies
npm install --save @opentelemetry/auto-instrumentations-node
npm install --save @opentelemetry/exporter-trace-otlp-http
npm install --save @opentelemetry/resources
npm install --save @opentelemetry/sdk-node
npm install --save @opentelemetry/semantic-conventions

If you run into any error, you might want to use these pinned versions of OpenTelemetry libraries used in this GitHub repo.

  1. Create a tracer.ts file

The IP of SIgNoz will be localhost if you are running SigNoz on local.

'use strict';

import { getNodeAutoInstrumentations } from '@opentelemetry/auto-instrumentations-node';
import { OTLPTraceExporter } from '@opentelemetry/exporter-trace-otlp-http';
import { Resource } from '@opentelemetry/resources';
import * as opentelemetry from '@opentelemetry/sdk-node';
import { SemanticResourceAttributes } from '@opentelemetry/semantic-conventions';

// Configure the SDK to export telemetry data to the console
// Enable all auto-instrumentations from the meta package
const exporterOptions = {
url: 'http://localhost:4318/v1/traces',

const traceExporter = new OTLPTraceExporter(exporterOptions);
const sdk = new opentelemetry.NodeSDK({
instrumentations: [getNodeAutoInstrumentations()],
resource: new Resource({
[SemanticResourceAttributes.SERVICE_NAME]: 'sampleNestJsApp',

// initialize the SDK and register with the OpenTelemetry API
// this enables the API to record telemetry

// gracefully shut down the SDK on process exit
process.on('SIGTERM', () => {
.then(() => console.log('Tracing terminated'))
.catch((error) => console.log('Error terminating tracing', error))
.finally(() => process.exit(0));

export default sdk;

OpenTelemetry Node SDK currently does not detect the OTEL_RESOURCE_ATTRIBUTES from .env files as of today. That’s why we need to include the variables in the tracing.js file itself.

About environment variables:

service_name: name of the service you want to monitor

http://localhost:4318/v1/traces is the default url for sending your tracing data. We are assuming you have installed SigNoz on your localhost. Based on your environment, you can update it accordingly. It should be in the following format:

http://<IP of SigNoz backend>:4318/v1/traces


Remember to allow incoming requests to port 4318 of machine where SigNoz backend is hosted.

  1. Import the tracer module where your app starts
    On main.ts file or file where your app starts import tracer using below command.


    The below import should be the first line in the main file of your application (Ex -> main.ts)

    import tracer from './tracer';

    Here's a sample main application importing tracer.ts:

    import tracer from './tracer';
    import { NestFactory } from '@nestjs/core';
    import { AppModule } from './app.module';

    // All of your application code and any imports that should leverage
    // OpenTelemetry automatic instrumentation must go here.

    async function bootstrap() {
    await tracer.start();

    const app = await NestFactory.create(AppModule);
    await app.listen(3001);

  1. Start the tracer
    await tracer.start();

You can now run your Nestjs application. The data captured with OpenTelemetry from your application should start showing on the SigNoz dashboard. You need to generate some load in order to see data reported on SigNoz dashboard. Refresh your application for 10-20 times, and wait for 2-3 mins.

You can check out a sample Nestjs application already instrumented with OpenTelemetry here:

Sample Nestjs Application

If you run this app, you can find a SampleNestJsApp in the list of applications monitored with SigNoz.

Sample Nestjs application in the list of applications monitored by SigNoz
Sample Nestjs application in the list of applications monitored by SigNoz

Open-source tool to visualize telemetry data​

SigNoz makes it easy to visualize metrics and traces captured through OpenTelemetry instrumentation.

SigNoz comes with out of box RED metrics charts and visualization. RED metrics stands for:

  • Rate of requests
  • Error rate of requests
  • Duration taken by requests
SigNoz charts and metrics
Measure things like application latency, requests per sec, error percentage and see your top endpoints with SigNoz.

You can then choose a particular timestamp where latency is high to drill down to traces around that timestamp.

List of traces on SigNoz dashboard
View of traces at a particular timestamp

You can use flamegraphs to exactly identify the issue causing the latency.

Flamegraphs used to visualize spans of distributed tracing in SigNoz UI
Flamegraphs used to visualize spans of distributed tracing in SigNoz UI

You can also build custom metrics dashboard for your infrastructure.

Custom metrics dashboard
You can also build a custom metrics dashboard for your infrastructure


OpenTelemetry makes it very convenient to instrument your Nestjs application. You can then use an open-source APM tool like SigNoz to analyze the performance of your app. As SigNoz offers a full-stack observability tool, you don't have to use multiple tools for your monitoring needs.

You can try out SigNoz by visiting its GitHub repo πŸ‘‡ SigNoz GitHub repo

If you are someone who understands more from video, then you can watch the below video tutorial on the same with SigNoz.


YouTube's thumbnail image for the video.


If you have any questions or need any help in setting things up, join our slack community and ping us in #support channel.

SigNoz Slack community

If you want to read more about SigNoz πŸ‘‡

Golang Aplication Monitoring with OpenTelemetry and SigNoz

OpenTelemetry collector - complete guide