An update on Eclipse IoT Packages

A lot has happened, since I wrote last about the Eclipse IoT Packages project. We had some great discussions at EclipseCon Europe, and started to work together online, having new ideas in the progress. Right before the end of the year, I think it is a good time to give an update, and peek a bit into the future.

Homepage

One of the first things we wanted to get started, was a home for the content we plan on creating. An important piece of the puzzle is to explain to people, what we have in mind. Not only for people that want to try out the various Eclipse IoT projects, but also to possible contributors. And in the end, an important goal of the project is to attract interested parties. For consuming our ideas, or growing them even further.

Eclipse IoT Packages logo

So we now have a logo, a homepage, built using using templates in a continuous build system. We are in a position to start focusing on the actual content, and on the more tricky tasks and questions ahead. And should you want to create a PR for the homepage, you are more than welcome. There is also already some content, explaining the main goals, the way we want to move forward, and demo of a first package: “Package Zero”.

Community

While the homepage is a good entry point for people to learn about Eclipse IoT and packages, our GitHub repository is the home for the community. And having some great discussions on GitHub, quickly brought up the need for a community call and a more direct communication channel.

If you are interested in the project, come and join our bi-weekly community call. It is a quick, 30 minutes call at 16:00 CET, and open to everyone. Repeating every two weeks, starting 2019-12-02.

The URL to the call is: https://eclipse.zoom.us/j/317801130. You can also subscribe to the community calendar to get a reminder.

In between calls, we have a chat room eclipse/packages on Gitter.

Eclipse IoT Helm Chart Repository

One of the earliest discussion we had, was around the question of how and were we want to host the Helm charts. We would prefer not to author them ourselves, but let the projects contribute them. After all, the IoT packages project has the goal of enabling you to install a whole set of Eclipse IoT projects, with only a few commands. So the focus is on the integration, and the expert knowledge required for creating project Helm chart, is in the actual projects.

On the other side, having a one-stop shop, for getting your Eclipse IoT Helm charts, sounds pretty convenient. So why not host our own Helm chart repository?

Thanks to a company called Kiwigrid, who contributed a CI pipeline for validating charts, we could easily extend our existing homepage publishing job, to also publish Helm charts. As a first chart, we published the Eclipse Ditto chart. And, as expected with Helm, installing it is as easy as:

Of course having a single chart is only the first step. Publishing a single Helm charts isn’t that impressive. But getting an agreement on the community, getting the validation and publishing pipeline set up, attracting new contributors, that is definitely a big step in the right direction.

Outlook

I think that we now have a good foundation, for moving forward. We have a place called “home”, for documentation, code and community. And it looks like we have also been able to attract more people to the project.

While our first package, “Package Zero”, still isn’t complete, it should be pretty close. Creating a first, joint deployment of Hono and Ditto is our immediate focus. And we will continue to work towards a first release of “Package Zero”. Finding a better name is still an item on the list.

Having this foundation in place also means, that the time is right, for you to think about contributing your own Eclipse IoT Package. Contributions are always welcome.

From building blocks to IoT solutions

Eclipse IoT

The Eclipse IoT ecosystem consists of around 40 different projects, ranging from embedded devices, to IoT gateways and up to cloud scale solutions. Many of those projects stand alone as “building blocks”, rather than ready to run solutions. And there is a good reason for that: you can take these building blocks, and incorporate them into your own solution, rather than adopting a complete, pre-built solution.

This approach however comes with a downside. Most people will understand the purpose of building blocks, like “Paho” (an MQTT protocol library) and “Milo” (an OPC UA protocol library) and can easily integrate them into their solution. But on the cloud side of things, building blocks become much more complex to integrate, and harder to understand.

Of course, the “getting started” experience is extremely important. You can simply download an Eclipse IDE package, tailored towards your context (Java, Modelling, Rust, …), and are up and running within minutes. We don’t want you to design your deployment descriptors first, and then let you figure out how to start up your distributed cluster. Otherwise “getting started” will become a week long task. And a rather frustrating one.

Getting started. Quickly!

Eclipse IoT building blocks

During the Eclipse IoT face-to-face meeting in Berlin, early this year, the Eclipse IoT working group discussed various ideas. How can we enable interested parties to get started, with as little effort as possible. And still, give you full control. Not only with a single component, which doesn’t provide much benefit on its own. But get you started with a complete solution, which solves actual IoT related problems.

The goal was simple. Take an IoT use case, which is easy to understand by IoT related people. And provide some form of deployment, which gets people up and running in less than 15 minutes. With as little as possible external requirements. At best, run everything on your local laptop. Still, create everything in a close-to-production style of deployment. Not something completely stripped down. But use a way of deployment, that you could actually use as a basis for extending it further.

Kubernetes & Helm

We quickly agreed on Kubernetes as the runtime platform, and Helm as the way to perform the actual deployments. With Kubernetes being available even on a local machine (using minikube on Linux, Windows and Mac) and being available, at the same time, in several enterprise ready environments, it seemed like an ideal choice. Helm charts seemed like an ideal choice as well. Helm designed directly for Kubernetes. And it also allows you to generate YAML files, from the Helm charts. So that the deployment only requires you to deploy a bunch of YAML files. Maintaining the charts, is still way easier than directly authoring YAML files.

Challenges, moving towards an IoT solution

A much tougher question was: how do we structure this, from a project perspective. During the meeting, it soon turned out, there would be two good initial candidates for “stacks” or “groups of projects”, which we would like to create.

It also turned out that we would need some “glue” components for a package like that. Even though it may only be a script here, or a “readme” file there. Some artifacts just don’t fit into either of those projects. And what about “in development” versions of the projects? How can you point people towards a stable deployment, only using a stable (released) group of projects, when scripts and readme’s are spread all over the place, in different branches.

A combination of “Hono, Ditto & Hawkbit” seemed like an ideal IoT solution to start with. People from various companies already work across those three projects, using them in combination for their own purpose. So, why not build on that?

But in addition to all those technical challenges, the governance of this effort is an aspect to consider. We did not want to exclude other Eclipse IoT projects, simply by starting out with “Hono, Ditto, and Hawkbit”. We only wanted to create “an” Eclipse IoT solution, and not “the” Eclipse IoT solution. The whole Eclipse IoT ecosystem is much too diverse, to force our initial idea on everyone else. So what if someone comes up with an additional group of Eclipse IoT projects? Or what if someone would like to add a new project to an existing deployment?

A home for everyone

Luckily, creating an Eclipse Foundation project solves all those issues. And the Eclipse Packaging project already proves that this approach works. We played with the idea, to create some kind of a “meta” project. Not a real project in the sense of having a huge code base. But more a project, which makes use of the Eclipse Foundations governance framework. Allowing multiple, even competing companies, to work upstream in a joint effort. And giving all the bits and pieces, which are specific to the integration of the projects, a dedicated home.

A home, not only for the package of “Hono, Ditto and Hawkbit”, but hopefully for other packages as well. If other projects would like to present their IoT solution, by combining multiple Eclipse IoT projects, this is their chance. You can easily become a contributor to this new project, and publish your scripts, documentation and walk-throughs, alongside the other packages.

Of course everything will be open source, licensed under the EPL. So go ahead and fork it, add your custom application on top of it. Or replace an existing component with something, you think is even better than what we put it. We want to enable you to deploy what we provide in a few minutes. Offer you an explanation, what to expect from it, and what this IoT solution can do for you. And encourage you to play around with it. And enable you to extend it, and build something bigger.

Let’s get started

EclipseCon Europe 2019

We created a new project proposal for the Eclipse IoT packages project. The project is currently in the community review phase. Once we pass the creation review, we will start publishing the content for the first package we have.

The Eclipse IoT working group will also meet at the IoT community day of EclipseCon Europe 2019. Our goal is to present an initial version of the initial package. Ready to run!

But even more important, we would like to continue our discussions around this effort. All contributions are welcome: code, documentation, additional packages … your ideas, thoughts, and feedback!

Bringing IoT to Red Hat AMQ Online

Red Hat AMQ Online 1.1 was recently announced, and I am excited about it because it contains a tech preview of our Internet of Things (IoT) support. AMQ Online is the “messaging as service solution” from Red Hat AMQ. Leveraging the work we did on Eclipse Hono allows us to integrate a scalable, cloud-native IoT personality into this general-purpose messaging layer. And the whole reason why you need an IoT messaging layer is so you can focus on connecting your cloud-side application with the millions of devices that you have out there.

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Rust on the ESP and how to get started

I have been working with ESPs, for playing around in the space of IoT, for a while now. Mostly using the ESP8266 and Espressif, through platform.io. In recent times, I have also started to really like Rust as programming language. And I really believe that all Rust has to offer, would be great match for embedded development. So when I had a bit of time, I wanted to give it a try. And here is what came out of it

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Integrating Eclipse IoT

The Eclipse IoT project is a top level project at the Eclipse Foundation. It currently consists of around 40 projects, which focus on different aspects of IoT. This may either be complete solutions, like the Eclipse SmartHome project, the PLC runtime and IDE, Eclipse 4DIAC. Or it may be building block projects, like the MQTT libraries of Eclipse Paho, or the cloud scale IoT messaging infrastructure of Eclipse Hono. I can only encourage you to have a look at the list of projects and do a bit of exploring.

And while it is great to a have a diverse set of projects, covering the three tiers of IoT (Device, Gateway and Cloud), it can be a challenge to explain people, how all of those projects can create something, which is bigger than the individual projects. Because having 40 different IoT projects is great, but imagine the possibilities of having a whole IoT ecosystem of projects. Mixing and matching, building your IoT solution as you see fit.

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Securing a Spring Boot application with PKCS #1 PEM files

When you want to secure a Spring Boot application with e.g. Let’s Encrypt or the OpenShift Service CA, then you will pretty soon figure out that working with PKCS #1 PEM files is a nightmare when it comes to Java. When you Google for PKCS #1 and Java, you will find all kinds of tutorials which suggest to use openssl and keytool to create a JKS or PKCS #12 keystore. As Java actually supports pluggable KeyStore implementations, I think there is a better solution for that.

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Apache Camel Java DSL in combination Eclipse Kura Wires

In part #1 and part #2, we saw how easy it is to interface Apache Camel with Kura Wires. Simply by re-using some existing functionality. A few lines of XML, Groovy and you can already build an IoT solution based on the Camel ecosystem and the Eclipse Kura runtime. This part will focus on the Java DSL of Apache Camel.

It will also take into account, that when you develop and deploy an application, you need some kind of development, test and integration environment. When you build something, no matter how big, based on Camel or Kura Wires, you do want to test it. You want to have unit tests, and the capability to automatically test if your solution works, or still works after you made changes.

Using Kura Wires alone, this can be a problem. But Camel offers you a way to easily run your solution in a local IDE, debugging the whole process. You can have extra support for debugging Camel specific constructs like routes and endpoints. Camel has support for JUnit and e.g. using the “seda” endpoints, you can in create an abstraction layer between Camel and Wires.

The goal

I’ll make this one up (and yes, let’s try to keep it realistic). We have a device, and his device allows to set two parameters for its operation (P1 and P2, both floating points). Now we already have the device connection set up in Kura. Maybe using Modbus, or something else. Kura can talk to it using Kura Wires and that is all that counts.

Now we do get two additional requirements. There is some kind of operating panel next to the device, which should allow viewing and setting those parameters locally. Also, those parameters should be accessible, using IEC 60870-5-104, for an additional device, right next to the Kura gateway.

All of those operations have to be local only, and still work when no connection to the cloud is possible. But of course, we don’t want to lose the ability to monitor the parameters from our cloud system.

The operator panel will, of course, be programmed in the newest and hippest Web UI technology possible. It is super easy to fire a few HTTP API calls and encode everything in JSON. While, at the same time, the IEC 60870 layer has no idea about complex data structures. The panel application will send a full update of both parameters, while the 60870 client, due to the nature of this protocol, will only send one parameter at a time.

Doesn’t sound too unrealistic, does it?

The project structure

The full project source code is available at ctron/kura-examples, on GitHub. So this blog post will only focus on some important spots of the whole project.

The project is a standard Maven project, and thus has the typical project structure:

Maven Camel project structure

There are only three important differences to a standard Java Maven project:

The packaging type is bundle, which requires the maven-bundle-plugin. It will create an OSGi bundle JAR, instead of a plain JAR file. This is required as the Kura IoT gateway is based on OSGi.

We will create a “DP” package at the end of the build, using the OSGi DP Maven Plugin. This package can directly be uploaded to the Kura instance. As this plugin does include direct dependencies, but doesn’t include transient dependencies (on purpose), the project declares a few dependencies as “provided” to prevent them from being re-packaged in the final DP package.

The project uses the maven-antrun-plugin to download and unpack the static Swagger UI resources. Swagger UI is just a convenience for playing around with the REST API later on. Camel will take care of creating the OpenAPI (Swagger) JSON description, even if the SwaggerUI part is removed. So in a production setup, you most likely would not add Swagger UI to the deployment.

Starting it up

The project has three entry points:

  • CamelApplicationComponent is the OSGi service, which will be managed by the OSGi service component runtime (SCR) when the component is uploaded to Kura.
  • TestApplication is a local test application, which is intended to be started from the local IDE for manual testing.
  • CamelApplicationComponentTest is the JUnit 4 based test for testing the Camel routes.

All three entry points will have a slightly different creation process for the Camel Context. This is simply due to the fact that different environments (like plain Java, OSGI and JUnit) have different requirements.

The routes configuration, which is the same for all entry points, is located in Routes.

Let’s have a quick look at the OSGi startup:

@Activate
public void start(final BundleContext context) throws Exception {
  this.context = new OsgiDefaultCamelContext(context, SwaggerUi.createRegistry());
  this.context.addRoutes(new Routes(this.state));
  this.context.start();

  final Dictionary<String, Object> properties = new Hashtable<>();
  properties.put("camel.context.id", "camel.example.4");
  this.registration = context.registerService(CamelContext.class, this.context, properties);
}

Once the component is placed inside an OSGi container, the start method will be called and set up the Camel context. This is all pretty straightforward Camel code. As the last step, the Camel context will be registered with the OSGi service layer. Setting the service property camel.context.id in the process. This property is important, as we will, later on, use it to locate the Camel context from the Kura Wires graph by it.

The Java DSL routes

The routes configuration is pretty simple Camel stuff. First, the REST DSL will be used to configure the REST API. For example, the “GET” operation to receive the currently active parameters:

…
  .get()
  .description("Get the current parameters")
  .outType(Parameters.class)
  .to("direct:getParameters")
…

This creates a get operation, which is being redirected to the internal “direct:getParameters” endpoint. Which is a way of forwarding that call to another Camel Route. This way Camel routes can be re-used from different callers.

Like for example the `direct:updateParameters` route, which will be called by all routes which want to update the parameters, no matter if that call originated in the IEC 60870, the REST or the Kura Wires component:

from("direct:updateParameters")
  .routeId("updateParameters")
  .bean(this.state, "updateCurrentParameters")
  .multicast()
  .to("direct:update.wires", "direct:update.iec.p1", "direct:update.iec.p2").end();

The route will forward the new parameters to the method updateCurrentParameters of the State class. This class is a plain Java class, holding the state and filling in null parameters with the current state. The result of this method will be forwarded to the other routes, for updating Kura Wires and the two parameters in the IEC 60870 data layer.

Trying it out

If you have Java and Maven installed, then you can simply compile the package by running:

cd camel/camel-example4
mvn clean package

This will compile, run the unit tests and create the .dp package in the folder target.

You can upload the package directly to your Kura instance. Please note that you do need the dependencies installed in part #1 of the tutorial. In additional you will need to install the following dependencies:

  • https://repo1.maven.org/maven2/de/dentrassi/kura/addons/de.dentrassi.kura.addons.camel.iec60870/0.6.1/de.dentrassi.kura.addons.camel.iec60870-0.6.1.dp
  • https://repo1.maven.org/maven2/de/dentrassi/kura/addons/de.dentrassi.kura.addons.camel.jetty/0.6.1/de.dentrassi.kura.addons.camel.jetty-0.6.1.dp
  • https://repo1.maven.org/maven2/de/dentrassi/kura/addons/de.dentrassi.kura.addons.camel.swagger/0.6.1/de.dentrassi.kura.addons.camel.swagger-0.6.1.dp
  • https://repo1.maven.org/maven2/de/dentrassi/kura/addons/de.dentrassi.kura.addons.camel.http/0.6.1/de.dentrassi.kura.addons.camel.http-0.6.1.dp

This will install the support for REST APIs, backed by Jetty. As Kura already contains Jetty, it only makes sense to re-use those existing components.

Once the component is deployed and started, you can navigate your web browser to http://:8090/api. This should bring up the Swagger UI, showing the API of the routes:

SwaggerUI of Camel example for Kura

Next, you can create the following components in the Kura wires graph:

  • Create a new “Camel consumer”, named consumer2
    • Set the ID to camel.example.4
    • Set the endpoint URI to seda:wiresOutput1
  • Create a new “Logger”, named logger2
    • Set it to “verbose”
  • Connect consumer2 with logger2
  • Click on “Apply” to activate the changes

Open the console of Kura and then open the Swagger UI page with the Web browser. Click on ““Try Out” of the “PUT” operation, enter some new values for setpoint1 and/or setpoint2 and click on the blue “Execute” button.

In the console of Kura you should see the following output:

2018-09-17T13:35:49,589 [Camel (camel-10) thread #27 - seda://wiresOutput1] INFO  o.e.k.i.w.l.Logger - Received WireEnvelope from org.eclipse.kura.wire.camel.CamelConsume-1537188764126-1
2018-09-17T13:35:49,589 […] INFO  o.e.k.i.w.l.Logger - Record List content:
2018-09-17T13:35:49,589 […] INFO  o.e.k.i.w.l.Logger -   Record content:
2018-09-17T13:35:49,589 […] INFO  o.e.k.i.w.l.Logger -     P1 : 3.0
2018-09-17T13:35:49,589 […] INFO  o.e.k.i.w.l.Logger -     P2 : 2.0
2018-09-17T13:35:49,589 […] INFO  o.e.k.i.w.l.Logger -

This is the result of the “Logger” component from Kura Wires. Which did receive the new parameter updates from the Camel Context, as they got triggered through the Web UI. At the same time, the IEC 60870 server would update all clients being subscribed to those data items.

Wrapping it up

The last part of this tutorial showed that, if the prep-prepared XML router component of Eclipse Kura, is not enough, then you can drop in your own and powerful replacements. Developing with all the bells and whistles of Apache Camel, and still integrate with Kura Wires if necessary.

Sunny weather with Apache Camel and Kura Wires

Part #1 of the Apache Camel to Kura Wires integration tutorial did focus on pushing data from Kura Wires to Camel and processing it there. But part #1 already mentioned that it is also possible to pull in data from Camel into Kura Wires.

Apache Camel consumer node in Kura Wires

Preparations

For the next step, you again need to install a Camel package, for interfacing with Open Weather Map: https://repo1.maven.org/maven2/de/dentrassi/kura/addons/de.dentrassi.kura.addons.camel.weather/0.6.0/de.dentrassi.kura.addons.camel.weather-0.6.0.dp The installation follows the same way as already described in part #1.

In addition to the installation of the package, you will also need to create an account at https://openweathermap.org/ and create an API key. You can select the free tier plan, it is more than enough for our example.

Back to Wires

Next, create a new Camel context, like before, and give it the ID “camel2”. Add the required component weather, the required language groovy and set the following XML router content (be sure to replace <appid> with your API token):

<routes xmlns="http://camel.apache.org/schema/spring">

  <route>

    <from uri="weather:dummy?appid=<YOUR API TOKEN>&amp;lat=48.1351&amp;lon=11.5820"/>
    <to uri="stream:out"/>

    <unmarshal><json library="Gson"></json></unmarshal>
    <transform><simple>${body["main"]["temp"]}</simple></transform>
    <convertBodyTo type="java.lang.Double"/>
    <to uri="stream:out"/>

    <transform><groovy>["TEMP": request.body-273.15]</groovy></transform>
    <to uri="stream:out"/>
    <to uri="seda:output1"/>

  </route>

</routes>

After applying the changes, you can create two new components in the Wire graph:

  • Create a new “Camel Consumer”, name it consumer1
    • Set the Camel context ID camel2
    • Set the endpoint URI seda:output1
  • Create a new “Logger”, name it logger1
    • Set it to “verbose”
  • Connect consumer1 with logger1
  • Click on “Apply” to activate the changes

What does it do?

What this Camel context does, is to first start polling information from the Open Weather Map API. It requests with a manually provided GPS location, Munich.

It then parses the JSON, so that we can work with the data. Then it extracts the current temperature from the rather complex Open Weather Map structure. Of course, we could also use a different approach and extract additional or other information.

The extracted value could still be a number, represented internally by a string. So we ask Camel to ensure that the body of the message gets converted to a Double. If the body already is a double, then nothing will be done. But, if necessary, Camel will pull in its type converter system and optionally convert e.g. a string to a double by parsing it.

Now the body contains the raw value, as a Java double. But we still have two issues with that. The first one is, that the value is in degree Kelvin. Living in Germany, I would expect degree Celsius ;-) The second issue is, that Kura Wires requires some kind of key to that value, like a Map structure.

Fortunately, we easily can solve both issues with a short snippet of Groovy: ["TEMP": request.body-273.15]. This will take the message (request) body, convert it to degree Celsius, and using this as a value for the key TEMP in the newly created map.

Checking the result

As soon as you apply the changes, you should see some output on the console, which shows the incoming weather data:

{"coord":{"lon":11.58,"lat":48.14},"weather":[{"id":801,"main":"Clouds","description":"few clouds","icon":"02d"}],"base":"stations","main":{"temp":297.72,"pressure":1021,"humidity":53,"temp_min":295.15,"temp_max":299.15},"visibility":10000,"wind":{"speed":1.5},"clouds":{"all":20},"dt":1537190400,"sys":{"type":1,"id":4914,"message":0.0022,"country":"DE","sunrise":1537160035,"sunset":1537204873},"id":2867714,"name":"Muenchen","cod":200}
297.72
{TEMP=24.57000000000005}

Every change, which should happen every second, shows three lines. First the raw JSON data, directly from the Open Weather Map API. Then the raw temperature in degree Kelvin, parsed by Camel and converted into a Java type already. Followed by the custom Map structure, created by the Groovy script. The beauty here is again, that you don’t need to fiddle around with custom data structures of the Kura Wires system, but can rely on standard data structures likes plain Java maps.

Looking at the Kura log file, which is by default /var/log/kura.log, you should see some output like this:

2018-09-17T13:57:10,117 [Camel (camel-15) thread #31 - seda://output1] INFO  o.e.k.i.w.l.Logger - Received WireEnvelope from org.eclipse.kura.wire.camel.CamelConsume-1537188764126-1
2018-09-17T13:57:10,117 [Camel (camel-15) thread #31 - seda://output1] INFO  o.e.k.i.w.l.Logger - Record List content:
2018-09-17T13:57:10,118 [Camel (camel-15) thread #31 - seda://output1] INFO  o.e.k.i.w.l.Logger -   Record content:
2018-09-17T13:57:10,118 [Camel (camel-15) thread #31 - seda://output1] INFO  o.e.k.i.w.l.Logger -     TEMP : 24.57000000000005
2018-09-17T13:57:10,118 [Camel (camel-15) thread #31 - seda://output1] INFO  o.e.k.i.w.l.Logger -

This shows the same value, as processed by the Camel context but received by Kura Wires.

Wrapping it up

Now, of course, a simple logger component isn’t really useful. But as you might now, Kura has the ability to connect to a GPS receiver. So you could also take the current position as an input to the Open Weather Map request. And instead of using my static GPS coordinates of Munich, you could query for the nearby weather information. So this might allow you to create some amazing IoT applications.

Stay tuned for Part #3, where we will look at a Camel based solution, which can run inside of Kura, as well as outside. Including actual unit tests, ready for continuous delivery.