Application Insights & Configuration

As part of my The Things IndustriesTTI) Integration my current approach is to use an Azure web job and configure the Azure App Service host so it doesn’t get shutdown after a period of inactivity. This so my application won’t have to repeatedly use the TTI API to request the Application and Device configuration information to reload the cache (still not certain if this is going to be implemented with a ConcurrentDictionary or ObjectCache).

namespace devMobile.TheThingsNetwork.WorkerService
   using System.Collections.Generic;

   public class AzureDeviceProvisiongServiceSettings
      public string IdScope { get; set; }
      public string GroupEnrollmentKey { get; set; }

   public class AzureSettings
      public string IoTHubConnectionString { get; set; }
      public AzureDeviceProvisiongServiceSettings DeviceProvisioningServiceSettings { get; set; }

   public class ApplicationSetting
      public AzureSettings AzureSettings { get; set; }

      public string MQTTAccessKey { get; set; }

      public byte? ApplicationPageSize { get; set; }

      public bool? DeviceIntegrationDefault { get; set; }
      public byte? DevicePageSize { get; set; }

   public class TheThingsIndustries
      public string MqttServerName { get; set; }
      public string MqttClientName { get; set; }

      public string Tennant { get; set; }
      public string ApiBaseUrl { get; set; }
      public string ApiKey { get; set; }

      public bool ApplicationIntegrationDefault { get; set; }
      public byte ApplicationPageSize { get; set; }

      public bool DeviceIntegrationDefault { get; set; }
      public byte DevicePageSize { get; set; }

   public class ProgramSettings
      public TheThingsIndustries TheThingsIndustries { get; set; }

      public AzureSettings AzureSettingsDefault { get; set; }

      public Dictionary<string, ApplicationSetting> Applications { get; set; }

The amount of configuration required to support multiple TTI Applications containing many Devices is also starting to get out of hand.

I need to subscribe to a Message Queue Telemetry Transport Topics(MQTT using MQTTNet) for each Application and establish a connection (using an Azure DeviceClient) for each TTI Device to the configured Azure IoT Hub(s).

  • v3/{application id}@{tenant id}/devices/{device id}/up
  • v3/{application id}@{tenant id}/devices/{device id}/down/queued
  • v3/{application id}@{tenant id}/devices/{device id}/down/sent
  • v3/{application id}@{tenant id}/devices/{device id}/down/ack
  • v3/{application id}@{tenant id}/devices/{device id}/down/nack
  • v3/{application id}@{tenant id}/devices/{device id}/down/failed

The Azure DeviceClient has to be configured and OpenAsync called just before/after subscribing to the TTI Application /up topic so the SendEventAsync method can be called to send messages to the configured Azure IoT Hub(s). For downlink messages the SetReceiveMessageHandler method will need to be called just before/after subscribing to ../down/queued, ../down/sent,../down/ack,…/down/nack and ,…/down/failed downlink topics.

The ordering of downloading the Application and Device configuration so downlink messages can be sent and uplink message received as soon as possible (so no messages are lost) is important. I have considered making the downlink process multi-threaded so API calls are made concurrently but I’m not certain the additional complexity would be worth it, especially in initial versions.

I’m also currently not certain about how to register my program for Application and Device registry changes so it doesn’t have to be restarted when configuration changes. I have also considered reverting to an HTTP Integration so that I could use Azure Storage queues to buffer uplink and downlink messages. This may also introduce ordering issues when multiple threads are created for Azure Queue Trigger functions to process a message backlog.

For debugging the application and monitoring in production I was planning on using the Apache Log4Net library but now I’m not certain the additional configuration complexity and dependencies are worth it. The built in Microsoft.Extensions.Logging library with Azure Application Insights integration looks like a “light weight” alternative with sufficient functionality .

protected override async Task ExecuteAsync(CancellationToken stoppingToken)
   while (!stoppingToken.IsCancellationRequested)
      _logger.LogDebug("Debug worker running at: {time}", DateTimeOffset.Now);
      _logger.LogInformation("Info worker running at: {time}", DateTimeOffset.Now);
      _logger.LogWarning("Warning worker running at: {time}", DateTimeOffset.Now);
      _logger.LogError("Error running at: {time}", DateTimeOffset.Now);

      using (_logger.BeginScope("TheThingsIndustries configuration"))
         _logger.LogInformation("Tennant: {0}", _programSettings.TheThingsIndustries.Tennant);
         _logger.LogInformation("ApiBaseUrl: {0}", _programSettings.TheThingsIndustries.ApiBaseUrl);
         _logger.LogInformation("ApiKey: {0}", _programSettings.TheThingsIndustries.ApiKey);

         _logger.LogInformation("ApplicationPageSize: {0}", _programSettings.TheThingsIndustries.ApplicationPageSize);
         _logger.LogInformation("DevicePageSize: {0}", _programSettings.TheThingsIndustries.DevicePageSize);

         _logger.LogInformation("ApplicationIntegrationDefault: {0}", _programSettings.TheThingsIndustries.ApplicationIntegrationDefault);
         _logger.LogInformation("DeviceIntegrationDefault: {0}", _programSettings.TheThingsIndustries.DeviceIntegrationDefault);

         _logger.LogInformation("MQTTServerName: {0}", _programSettings.TheThingsIndustries.MqttServerName);
         _logger.LogInformation("MQTTClientName: {0}", _programSettings.TheThingsIndustries.MqttClientName);

      using (_logger.BeginScope("Azure default configuration"))
         if (_programSettings.AzureSettingsDefault.IoTHubConnectionString != null)
            _logger.LogInformation("AzureSettingsDefault.IoTHubConnectionString: {0}", _programSettings.AzureSettingsDefault.IoTHubConnectionString);

         if (_programSettings.AzureSettingsDefault.DeviceProvisioningServiceSettings != null)
            _logger.LogInformation("AzureSettings.DeviceProvisioningServiceSettings.IdScope: {0}", _programSettings.AzureSettingsDefault.DeviceProvisioningServiceSettings.IdScope);
            _logger.LogInformation("AzureSettings.DeviceProvisioningServiceSettings.GroupEnrollmentKey: {0}", _programSettings.AzureSettingsDefault.DeviceProvisioningServiceSettings.GroupEnrollmentKey);
      foreach (var application in _programSettings.Applications)
         using (_logger.BeginScope(new[] { new KeyValuePair<string, object>("Application", application.Key)}))
            _logger.LogInformation("MQTTAccessKey: {0} ", application.Value.MQTTAccessKey);

            if (application.Value.ApplicationPageSize.HasValue)
               _logger.LogInformation("ApplicationPageSize: {0} ", application.Value.ApplicationPageSize.Value);

            if (application.Value.DeviceIntegrationDefault.HasValue)
               _logger.LogInformation("DeviceIntegation: {0} ", application.Value.DeviceIntegrationDefault.Value);

            if (application.Value.DevicePageSize.HasValue)
               _logger.LogInformation("DevicePageSize: {0} ", application.Value.DevicePageSize.Value);

            if (application.Value.AzureSettings.IoTHubConnectionString != null)
               _logger.LogInformation("AzureSettings.IoTHubConnectionString: {0} ", application.Value.AzureSettings.IoTHubConnectionString);

            if (application.Value.AzureSettings.DeviceProvisioningServiceSettings != null)
               _logger.LogInformation("AzureSettings.DeviceProvisioningServiceSettings.IdScope: {0} ", application.Value.AzureSettings.DeviceProvisioningServiceSettings.IdScope);
               _logger.LogInformation("AzureSettings.DeviceProvisioningServiceSettings.GroupEnrollmentKey: {0} ", application.Value.AzureSettings.DeviceProvisioningServiceSettings.GroupEnrollmentKey);

      await Task.Delay(300000, stoppingToken);

The logging information formatting is sufficiently readable when running locally

Extensive use of the BeginScope method to include additional meta-data on logged records should make debugging easier.

This long post is to explain some of my design decisions and which ones are still to be decided

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