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Node-RED: Wiring Together the Internet of Things

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Take a look at Node-RED, a visual tool you can use to help wire IoT devices. See what it’s capable of and get involved in the community.

Access the survey results ‘State of Industrial Internet Application Development’ to learn about latest challenges, trends and opportunities with Industrial IoT, brought to you in partnership with GE Digital.

One of the unique challenges of the Internet of Things is stepping into an object-oriented world and understanding how to link together so many disparate objects that speak different languages. The average IoT engineer is not interested in diving into the coding necessary to drive these interactions — they want to quickly be able to pull in operational data. This is where a tool that makes easily wiring together the IoT, incredibly valuable.

Eliminating Arduous Processes With Wiring

Nick O’Leary and Dave Conway-Jones of IBM’s Emerging Technologies group were looking for a way to simplify the process of linking together systems and devices when developing for the Internet of Things. As exciting as some of the end results can be, linking things together can be an arduous process that has to be repeated countless times. Nick and Dave wanted to develop a toolbox of reusable code that could make the process simpler and more easily repeatable to speed up development. What started as a side project a few years ago has grown to become an important open-source tool to wire together the Internet of Things.

Initial experiments at Hursley using drag-and-drop graphical tools to create the code needed to let web services, software, and hardware communicate developed into Node-RED; a visual tool for wiring together hardware devices, APIs, and online services in new and interesting ways.

This simple tool makes it easy to wire together real-world events, add in some intelligence, and access simple nodes to integrate them with existing messaging systems and social platforms such as Twitter, MongoDB, and Watson IoT to create applications that can react to the world around them.

Lowering the Technical Bar

Node-RED reduces the need to write code, lowering the technical bar and allowing those interested in developing for the IoT to focus on the creating, rather than on the doing. Nick has noted that he has been surprised by how many different applications people are using Node-RED for, including schools teaching kids to code using Node-RED due its ease-of-use.

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