Yearly Archives: 2019

7 posts

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!

Eclipse Milo 0.3, updated examples

A while back I wrote a blog post about OPC UA, using Milo and added a bunch of examples, in order to get you started. Time passed by and now Milo 0.3.x is released, with a changed API and so those examples no longer work. Not too much has changed, but the experience of running into compile errors isn’t a good one. Finally I found some time to update the examples.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading