In order to visualize and analyze your traces, you will need to export them to a backend such as Jaeger or Zipkin. OpenTelemetry JS provides exporters for some common open source backends.

Below you will find some introductions on how to setup backends and the matching exporters.

OTLP endpoint

To send trace data to a OTLP endpoint (like the collector or Jaeger) you’ll want to use an exporter package, such as @opentelemetry/exporter-trace-otlp-http:

$ npm install --save @opentelemetry/exporter-trace-otlp-http

Next, configure the exporter to point at an OTLP endpoint. For example you can update app.js from the Getting Started like the following:

const opentelemetry = require("@opentelemetry/sdk-node");
const {
} = require("@opentelemetry/auto-instrumentations-node");
const {
} = require("@opentelemetry/exporter-trace-otlp-http");

const sdk = new opentelemetry.NodeSDK({
  traceExporter: new OTLPTraceExporter({
    // optional - url default value is http://localhost:4318/v1/traces
    url: "<your-otlp-endpoint>/v1/traces",
    // optional - collection of custom headers to be sent with each request, empty by default
    headers: {},
  instrumentations: [getNodeAutoInstrumentations()],

To try out the OTLPTraceExporter quickly, you can run Jaeger in a docker container:

$ docker run -d --name jaeger \
  -p 6831:6831/udp \
  -p 6832:6832/udp \
  -p 5778:5778 \
  -p 16686:16686 \
  -p 4317:4317 \
  -p 4318:4318 \
  -p 14250:14250 \
  -p 14268:14268 \
  -p 14269:14269 \
  -p 9411:9411 \

Usage with the WebTracer

When you use the OTLP exporter in a browser-based application, you need to note that:

  1. Using grpc & http/proto for exporting is not supported
  2. Content Security Policies (CSPs) of your website might block your exports
  3. Cross-Origin Resource Sharing (CORS) headers might not allow your exports being send
  4. You might need to expose your collector to the public internet

Below you will find instructions to use the right exporter, to configure your CSPs and CORS headers and what precautions you have to take when exposing your collector.

Use OTLP exporter with HTTP/JSON

OpenTelemetry Collector Exporter with grpc and OpenTelemetry Collector Exporter with protobuf do only work with Node.JS, therefor you are limited to use the OpenTelemetry Collector Exporter with http.

Make sure that the receiving end of your exporter (collector or observability backend) do support http/json, and that you are exporting your data to the right endpoint, i.e. make sure that your port is set to 4318.

Configure CSPs

If your website is making use of Content Security Policies (CSPs), make sure that the domain of your OTLP endpoint is included. If your collector endpoint is https://collector.example.com:4318/v1/traces add the following directive:

connect-src collector.example.com:4318/v1/traces

If your CSP is not including the OTLP endpoint, you will see an error message, stating that the request to your endpoint is violating the CSP directive.

Configure CORS headers

If your website and collector are hosted at a different origin, your browser might block the requests going out to your collector. You need to configure special headers for Cross-Origin Resource Sharing (CORS).

The OpenTelemetry collector provides a feature for http based receivers to add the required headers to allow the receiver to accept traces from a web browser:

        include_metadata: true
            - https://foo.bar.com
            - https://*.test.com
            - Example-Header
          max_age: 7200

Securely expose your collector

To receive telemetry from a web application you need to allow the browsers of your end-users to send data to your collector. If your web application is accessible from the public internet, you also have to make your collector accessible for everyone.

It is recommended that you do not expose your collector directly, but that you put a reverse proxy (nginx, apache, …) in front of it. The reverse proxy can take care of SSL-offloading, setting the right CORS headers and many other features specific to web applications.

Below you will find a configuration for the popular nginx webserver to get you started:

server {
    listen 80 default_server;
    server_name _;
    location / {
        # Take care of preflight requests
        if ($request_method = 'OPTIONS') {
             add_header 'Access-Control-Max-Age' 1728000;
             add_header "Access-Control-Allow-Origin" "name.of.your.website.example.com" always;
             add_header 'Access-Control-Allow-Headers' 'Accept,Accept-Language,Content-Language,Content-Type' always;
             add_header 'Access-Control-Allow-Credentials' 'true' always;
             add_header 'Content-Type' 'text/plain charset=UTF-8';
             add_header 'Content-Length' 0;
             return 204;

        add_header "Access-Control-Allow-Origin" "name.of.your.website.example.com" always;
        add_header 'Access-Control-Allow-Credentials' 'true' always;
        add_header 'Access-Control-Allow-Headers' 'Accept,Accept-Language,Content-Language,Content-Type' always;
        proxy_http_version 1.1;
        proxy_set_header Host $host;
        proxy_set_header X-Real-IP $remote_addr;
        proxy_set_header X-Forwarded-For $proxy_add_x_forwarded_for;
        proxy_pass http://collector:4318;


To set up Zipkin as quickly as possible, run it in a docker container:

docker run --rm -d -p 9411:9411 --name zipkin openzipkin/zipkin

Install the exporter package as a dependency for your application:

npm install --save @opentelemetry/exporter-zipkin

Update your opentelemetry configuration to use the exporter and to send data to your zipkin backend:

const { ZipkinExporter } = require("@opentelemetry/exporter-zipkin");
const { BatchSpanProcessor } = require("@opentelemetry/sdk-trace-base");

provider.addSpanProcessor(new BatchSpanProcessor(new ZipkinExporter()));
Last modified September 15, 2022: typo fix (#1753) (8ea009d)