Tom RayTom Ray
Published on
Last updated:

How to use the NestJS Logger (plus Pino setup)

How to use the NestJS Logger

In this tutorial, we're going to do a deep dive into the NestJS logger.

First, we'll look at how you can use the default NestJS logger to add logs inside your services as well as automatically log HTTP requests.

If you're looking to setup logging more suited for production, we'll then extend the NestJS logger for JSON formatting with the set up of Pino.

Ready? Let's dive in.

NestJS logo
Get Free NestJS Cheat SheetGet access to my free NestJS cheat sheet and learn tips and advanced techniques to improve your developer workflow and NestJS applications in production.
Table of Contents

Using the default built-in NestJS logger

NestJS has a built-in text-based logger you can use without needing to install any additional packages.

There will be 2 main use-cases for logging in a NestJS app:

  • Logging useful info and errors in your NestJS controllers and providers
  • Logging HTTP requests that hit your NestJS server

Let's go into how you can use the NestJS logger to do these things.

Using NestJS Logger in your services

It's seen as best practice to instantiate the NestJS logger inside each service you want logging functionality for, like this:

import { Logger, Injectable } from '@nestjs/common';

@Injectable()
class Pokemon {
  private readonly logger = new Logger(Pokemon.name);

  ...
}

See how Pokemon.name was passed in as an argument in the constructor?

This sets the context in the NestJS logger, meaning that all logs will be prefixed in square brackets with what you pass in, like this:

[Nest] 75224  - 26/06/2022, 17:43:27     LOG [Pokemon] ...

We can now use the logger in our service:

import { Logger, Injectable } from '@nestjs/common';

@Injectable()
class Pokemon {
  private readonly logger = new Logger(Pokemon.name);

  findAll(): {
    this.logger.log(`Retrieve all Pokemon`);
    ...
  }
}

Logging errors

You can use the error method in the Logger instance to log errors.

For example, inside a try catch:

import { Logger, Injectable } from '@nestjs/common';

@Injectable()
class Pokemon {
  private readonly logger = new Logger(Pokemon.name);

  async findAll(): {
    try {
      ... // some code which could throw an error
    } catch (error) {
      this.logger.error(error)
      throw new Error(error);
    }
  }
}

While the above works for logging errors in your application, it's a bit of a pain to manually have to log each error that you throw. Also what about unhandled exceptions (i.e. errors that your code doesn't catch)?

Instead of manually logging each error, it's possible (and much cleaner) to automatically log your errors and unhandled exceptions with the help of custom NestJS exception filters and custom error classes.

That's a little out of the scope of this tutorial as it requires a deep dive into NestJS error handling, but I'll be writing a tutorial soon which covers exactly this!

Automatically log HTTP requests

To add automatic HTTP logging with the built-in NestJS logger, we'll use middleware as described in the documentation.

First create a file for the middleware:

touch src/middleware/logger.middleware.ts

And then add a basic middleware class:

logger.middleware.ts
import { Injectable, Logger, NestMiddleware } from '@nestjs/common';
import { Request, Response, NextFunction } from 'express';

@Injectable()
export class LoggerMiddleware implements NestMiddleware {
  private logger = new Logger(`HTTP`);
  use(req: Request, res: Response, next: NextFunction) {
    this.logger.log(`Logging HTTP request ${req.method} ${req.url} ${res.statusCode}`,);
    next();
  }
}

You should tweak the log shown in the above example so you log the exact details you want from the request and/or response.

To apply this middleware, you modify the AppModule class like this:

app.module.ts
import { MiddlewareConsumer, Module, NestModule } from '@nestjs/common';
import { AppController } from './app.controller';
import { AppService } from './app.service';
import { LoggerMiddleware } from './middleware/logger.middleware';

@Module({
  imports: [],
  controllers: [AppController],
  providers: [AppService],
})
export class AppModule implements NestModule {
  configure(consumer: MiddlewareConsumer) {
    consumer.apply(LoggerMiddleware).forRoutes('*');
  }
}

The above wildcard * means that all routes will be logged, but you could tweak the wildcard if you only want to log certain requests.

Please note - The Pino setup described below handles automatic HTTP request logging by default so this middleware is not required if you decide to go with Pino as your logger.

Conclusion on built-in NestJS logger

The NestJS built-in logger is cool for local development, but the main downside is that it's not formatted in JSON by default, making it more difficult to do analysis and troubleshooting in your cloud logging infrastructure.

In the next sections, we'll go through the steps to setup Pino in the NestJS logger (which has built-in JSON logging).

NestJS Logger with Pino

Pino is my go-to logger for NestJS projects.

It handles logging HTTP requests by default (no need for the middleware like in the previous setup above) and more easily handles objects in your logs because it's a JSON-based logger.

We'll be using the official NestJS Pino package for this setup.

First, install the relevant packages:

npm i nestjs-pino pino-http

Then import the logger into your root module. I recommend doing this inside the default app.module.ts file so your logger is available in all of your controllers and providers:

app.module.ts
import { Module } from '@nestjs/common';
import { AppController } from './app.controller';
import { AppService } from './app.service';
import { LoggerModule } from 'nestjs-pino';

@Module({
  imports: [
    LoggerModule.forRoot(),
  ],
  controllers: [AppController],
  providers: [AppService],
})
export class AppModule {}

And finally, inside the main.ts file:

main.ts
import { Logger } from 'nestjs-pino';

const app = await NestFactory.create(AppModule, { bufferLogs: true });
app.useLogger(app.get(Logger));

The above setup does the following:

  • Automatically logs all the HTTP requests coming into your NestJS app
  • Enables you to keep using the built-in NestJS logger (except Pino is now the logger behind the scenes)

Try adding a log to one of your services (like the following example) to see the result in your terminal:

import { Logger, Injectable } from '@nestjs/common';

@Injectable()
class Pokemon {
  private readonly logger = new Logger(Pokemon.name);

  findAll(): {
    this.logger.log(`Retrieve all Pokemon`);
    ...
  }
}

Nice work! Although you will notice that the logs look kinda ugly and are a little hard to read:

NestJS Pino default logs

Let's take care of that in the next section.

Install pino pretty and setup configs

Although we want our logs in JSON format, we also want them to be pretty - that's where the pino-pretty package comes in.

This package applies 'pretty formatting' to your logs, making them more readable (for example the log level and timestamp).

First, install the package:

npm i pino-pretty

And then add some configurations to the forRoot method:

app.module.ts
import { Module } from '@nestjs/common';
import { LoggerModule } from 'nestjs-pino';
import { AppController } from './app.controller';
import { AppService } from './app.service';

@Module({
  imports: [
    LoggerModule.forRoot({
      pinoHttp: {
        transport: {
          target: 'pino-pretty',
        },
      },
    })
  ],
  controllers: [AppController],
  providers: [AppService],
})
export class AppModule {}

You will now see the logs are formatted and full of colour 🌈!

I like to prevent line breaks in my logs which you can do by adding the singleLine option to the configuration:

app.module.ts
...

@Module({
  imports: [
    LoggerModule.forRoot({
      pinoHttp: {
        transport: {
          target: 'pino-pretty',
          options: {
            singleLine: true,
          },
        },
      },
    })
  ],
  ...
})
export class AppModule {}

Passing objects into the Pino logs

You will likely want to pass in objects into your logs and make use of the built-in JSON nature of Pino.

To do that you'll need to follow the "Pino" way of doing things, where you pass in the object as the first argument and the log message as the 2nd argument. Here's an example:

this.logger.error({ id: `retrieve-all-pokemon-error` }, `Retrieve all Pokemon`) // object passed in first argument

You will now see the logs in your terminal look like this:

Logging a Pino error

Setting context for the automatic HTTP logging

When you instantiate the logger, you can optionally pass in a string that sets a context property in the JSON log, like this:

import { Logger, Injectable } from '@nestjs/common';

@Injectable()
class Pokemon {
  private readonly logger = new Logger(Pokemon.name);

  ...
}

This is helpful when analysing/troubleshooting your logs as you can group your logs by this context value.

The automatic logs that come through with each HTTP request, however, do not have a context value set in the logger. You can fix that by adding a customProp to the configuration:

app.module.ts
import { Module } from '@nestjs/common';
import { LoggerModule } from 'nestjs-pino';
import { AppController } from './app.controller';
import { AppService } from './app.service';

@Module({
  imports: [
    LoggerModule.forRoot({
      pinoHttp: {
        customProps: (req, res) => ({
          context: 'HTTP',
        }),
        transport: {
          target: 'pino-pretty',
        },
      },
    })
  ],
  controllers: [AppController],
  providers: [AppService],
})
export class AppModule {}

Now each HTTP log that comes through on each request will include in the object { "context":"HTTP" }

Expose error object in HTTP log

For the automatic HTTP logs, if it's an error status code then the log includes an err property with some default details about the error.

This error does not actually tell us anything about the error (e.g. the error message or the stack trace).

We can modify this by using the LoggerErrorInterceptor from the nestjs-pino package in the main.ts bootstrap file:

main.ts
import { Logger, LoggerErrorInterceptor } from 'nestjs-pino';

const app = await NestFactory.create(AppModule, { bufferLogs: true });
app.useLogger(app.get(Logger));
app.useGlobalInterceptors(new LoggerErrorInterceptor());

Logs in production

While prettifying the logs in our local environment is useful, on production it's better to have all logs in JSON format.

Conclusion on using Pino in NestJS

Using this Pino package for NestJS logging is great because:

  • It logs every request/response automatically without having to add any middleware
  • The logs are in JSON format
  • You can keep using the built-in NestJS logger (except Pino is now the logger behind the scenes)

Even though the NestJS Winston package is more popular (based on npm downloads per week), I find that the Pino integration is more flexible and easy to use.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments below.

NestJS logo
Get Free NestJS Cheat SheetGet access to my free NestJS cheat sheet and learn tips and advanced techniques to improve your developer workflow and NestJS applications in production.