How can you use Prometheus and Grafana to monitor a Node.js application?

12 June 2024

In today’s world, the ability to track, analyze, and visualize the performance of your Node.js application is crucial for maintaining its reliability and efficiency. Leveraging Prometheus and Grafana can provide you with comprehensive monitoring capabilities, ensuring your Node app is running smoothly and identifying any issues promptly. This article will guide you through the method of setting up metrics collection using Prometheus, and integrating it with Grafana for advanced visualization.

Setting Up Prometheus for Metrics Collection

When it comes to monitoring Node.js applications, Prometheus stands out as a preferred choice due to its powerful capabilities and ease of integration. Prometheus is an open-source monitoring and alerting toolkit that allows you to collect and store metrics data efficiently.

Installing Prometheus

To begin, you need to install Prometheus. If you haven’t done so already, download the latest version from the Prometheus website. Once downloaded, extract the tar file and navigate to the Prometheus directory.

tar -xvf prometheus-*.tar.gz
cd prometheus-*

Create a configuration file named prometheus.yml with the following basic setup:

  scrape_interval: 15s  # Set the scrape interval to 15 seconds

  - job_name: 'nodejs_app'
      - targets: ['localhost:9090']

This file tells Prometheus to scrape metrics from your Node.js application running on your local server every 15 seconds.

Integrating Prometheus with Node.js

For Prometheus to collect metrics from your Node.js app, you will need a client library. The prom-client library is commonly used for this purpose. Install it using npm:

npm install prom-client

Next, integrate prom-client into your Node.js application to expose the metrics endpoint:

const express = require('express');
const promClient = require('prom-client');
const app = express();
const port = 3000;

const collectDefaultMetrics = promClient.collectDefaultMetrics;
collectDefaultMetrics({ timeout: 5000 });

const httpRequestDurationMicroseconds = new promClient.Histogram({
  name: 'http_request_duration_seconds',
  help: 'Duration of HTTP requests in seconds',
  labelNames: ['method', 'route', 'code'],
  buckets: [0.1, 0.2, 0.5, 1, 2, 5]

app.use((req, res, next) => {
  const end = httpRequestDurationMicroseconds.startTimer();
  res.on('finish', () => {
    end({ route: req.path, code: res.statusCode, method: req.method });

app.get('/metrics', (req, res) => {
  res.set('Content-Type', promClient.register.contentType);

app.listen(port, () => {
  console.log(`App running on port ${port}`);

This code initializes Prometheus metrics collection and exposes them at the /metrics endpoint, which Prometheus will scrape.

Visualizing Metrics with Grafana

Once Prometheus is set up and collecting metrics from your Node.js application, the next step is to visualize this data using Grafana. Grafana is an open-source analytics and monitoring platform known for its rich visualizations and integrations.

Installing Grafana

First, download and install Grafana from the Grafana website. For easy setup, you can use Docker Compose:

version: '3'

    image: grafana/grafana
      - "3000:3000"
      - grafana-storage:/var/lib/grafana


Run the following command to start Grafana with Docker Compose:

docker-compose up -d

Configuring Grafana to Use Prometheus

Once Grafana is running, navigate to http://localhost:3000 in your browser and log in with the default credentials (admin/admin). To add Prometheus as a data source, follow these steps:

  1. Go to Configuration -> Data Sources.
  2. Click Add data source.
  3. Select Prometheus.
  4. Enter http://localhost:9090 as the URL.
  5. Click Save & Test to ensure Grafana can connect to Prometheus.

Creating Dashboards and Visualizations

With Prometheus configured as a data source, you can now create dashboards to visualize your Node.js metrics.

  1. Go to Create -> Dashboard.
  2. Click Add new panel.
  3. In the Query tab, enter a PromQL query to retrieve your metrics, for example:
  4. Adjust the visualization settings in the Visualization tab.
  5. Click Apply to save your panel.

You can create multiple panels to track different metrics such as request duration, response time, memory usage, and process CPU usage.

Using Fullscreen Mode for Monitoring

To make the most of your Grafana dashboard, you can use the fullscreen mode for uninterrupted monitoring. Click the fullscreen icon in the top-right corner of your panel. To exit fullscreen, simply press Escape or click the exit fullscreen button.

By using Prometheus Grafana together, you gain powerful insights into the performance and health of your Node.js application, allowing you to monitor and respond to issues in real-time.

Fine-Tuning Metrics Collection and Visualization

To make your monitoring more effective, it's essential to fine-tune both metrics collection and visualization. This involves focusing on relevant metrics, optimizing the scrape interval, and creating comprehensive dashboards.

Optimizing Scrape Intervals and Buckets

The scrape interval determines how often Prometheus collects metrics. While a shorter interval provides more granular data, it can also increase the load on your system. Similarly, buckets used in histograms should cover a range of expected values for request duration. Ensure to configure these based on your application’s performance characteristics.

For example, if most of your requests complete within 500 milliseconds, you might set buckets as [0.1, 0.2, 0.5, 1, 2, 5] seconds to capture detailed data on typical request durations.

Creating Detailed Dashboards

To make your Grafana dashboards truly useful, ensure they provide actionable insights. A well-designed dashboard might include panels for:

  • Request duration: Using histograms to display the distribution of request durations.
  • Response time: Tracking the average and 95th percentile of response times.
  • Memory usage: Displaying real-time and historical memory usage data.
  • CPU usage: Monitoring process CPU usage to detect bottlenecks.
  • Error rates: Keeping an eye on the frequency and types of errors occurring in your Node.js app.

By focusing on these metrics, you can quickly identify performance anomalies and address them before they impact your users.

Leveraging Alerts and Notifications

Prometheus and Grafana also support alerting mechanisms that notify you of potential issues. Configure alerts in Prometheus using Alertmanager and integrate them with Grafana for visual representation and notifications.

For instance, you could set up an alert to notify you if the average request duration exceeds a certain threshold for more than a specified period. This proactive approach ensures you can react swiftly to maintain optimal application performance.

Utilizing Prometheus and Grafana to monitor your Node.js application provides a powerful solution for collecting, analyzing, and visualizing performance metrics. By following the steps outlined in this article, including installing Prometheus, integrating it with your Node.js app, and setting up Grafana for rich visualizations, you can ensure your application runs optimally and any potential issues are addressed promptly.

With finely tuned scrape intervals, detailed dashboards, and effective alerts, you can maintain high performance and reliability. This combination of tools empowers you to monitor crucial metrics such as request duration, response time, memory usage, and CPU usage, ensuring your Node.js application delivers a seamless experience to its users.

By leveraging the full capabilities of Prometheus and Grafana, you can achieve comprehensive monitoring and maintain a robust, efficient, and reliable Node.js application.

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