Device Provisioning Service(DPS) JsonData

While building my The Things Industries(TTI) V3 connector which uses the Azure Device Provisioning Service(DPS) the way pretty much all of the samples formatted the JsonData property of the ProvisioningRegistrationAdditionalData (part of Plug n Play provisioning) by manually constructing a JSON object which bugged me.

ProvisioningRegistrationAdditionalData provisioningRegistrationAdditionalData = new ProvisioningRegistrationAdditionalData()
{
   JsonData = $"{{\"modelId\": \"{modelId}\"}}"
};

result = await provClient.RegisterAsync(provisioningRegistrationAdditionalData);

I remembered seeing a sample where the DTDLV2 methodId was formatted by a library function and after a surprising amount of searching I found what I was looking for in Azure-Samples repository.

The code for the CreateDpsPayload method

// Copyright (c) Microsoft. All rights reserved.
// Licensed under the MIT license. See LICENSE file in the project root for full license information.

using Microsoft.Azure.Devices.Provisioning.Client.Extensions;

namespace Microsoft.Azure.Devices.Provisioning.Client.PlugAndPlay
{
    /// <summary>
    /// A helper class for formatting the DPS device registration payload, per plug and play convention.
    /// </summary>
    public static class PnpConvention
    {
        /// <summary>
        /// Create the DPS payload to provision a device as plug and play.
        /// </summary>
        /// <remarks>
        /// For more information on device provisioning service and plug and play compatibility,
        /// and PnP device certification, see <see href="https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/iot-pnp/howto-certify-device"/>.
        /// The DPS payload should be in the format:
        /// <code>
        /// {
        ///   "modelId": "dtmi:com:example:modelName;1"
        /// }
        /// </code>
        /// For information on DTDL, see <see href="https://github.com/Azure/opendigitaltwins-dtdl/blob/master/DTDL/v2/dtdlv2.md"/>
        /// </remarks>
        /// <param name="modelId">The Id of the model the device adheres to for properties, telemetry, and commands.</param>
        /// <returns>The DPS payload to provision a device as plug and play.</returns>
        public static string CreateDpsPayload(string modelId)
        {
            modelId.ThrowIfNullOrWhiteSpace(nameof(modelId));
            return $"{{\"modelId\":\"{modelId}\"}}";
        }
    }
}

With a couple of changes my code now uses the CreateDpsPayload method

using Microsoft.Azure.Devices.Provisioning.Client.PlugAndPlay;

...

using (var securityProvider = new SecurityProviderSymmetricKey(deviceId, deviceKey, null))
{
   using (var transport = new ProvisioningTransportHandlerAmqp(TransportFallbackType.TcpOnly))
   {
      ProvisioningDeviceClient provClient = ProvisioningDeviceClient.Create(
         Constants.AzureDpsGlobalDeviceEndpoint,
         deviceProvisiongServiceSettings.IdScope,
         securityProvider,
         transport);

      DeviceRegistrationResult result;

      if (!string.IsNullOrEmpty(modelId))
      {
         ProvisioningRegistrationAdditionalData provisioningRegistrationAdditionalData = new ProvisioningRegistrationAdditionalData()
         {
               JsonData = PnpConvention.CreateDpsPayload(modelId)
         };

         result = await provClient.RegisterAsync(provisioningRegistrationAdditionalData, stoppingToken);
      }
      else
      {
         result = await provClient.RegisterAsync(stoppingToken);
      }

      if (result.Status != ProvisioningRegistrationStatusType.Assigned)
      {
         _logger.LogError("Config-DeviceID:{0} Status:{1} RegisterAsync failed ", deviceId, result.Status);

         return false;
      }

      IAuthenticationMethod authentication = new DeviceAuthenticationWithRegistrySymmetricKey(result.DeviceId, (securityProvider as SecurityProviderSymmetricKey).GetPrimaryKey());

      deviceClient = DeviceClient.Create(result.AssignedHub, authentication, transportSettings);
   }
}

TTI V3 Gateway Device Provisioning Service(DPS) Concurrent Requests

While debugging The Things Industries(TTI) V3 connector on my desktop I had noticed that using an Azure IoT Hub device connection string was quite a bit faster than using the Azure Device Provisioning Service(DPS). The Azure Webjob connector was executing the requests sequentially which made the duration of the DPS call even more apparent.

To reduce the impact of the RegisterAsync call duration this Proof of Concept(PoC) code uses the System.Tasks.Threading library to execute each request in its own thread and then wait for all the requests to finish.

try
{
   int devicePage = 1;
   V3EndDevices endDevices = await endDeviceRegistryClient.ListAsync(
      applicationSetting.Key,
      field_mask_paths: Constants.DevicefieldMaskPaths,
      page: devicePage,
      limit: _programSettings.TheThingsIndustries.DevicePageSize,
      cancellationToken: stoppingToken);

   while ((endDevices != null) && (endDevices.End_devices != null)) // If no devices returns null rather than empty list
   {
      List<Task<bool>> tasks = new List<Task<bool>>();

      _logger.LogInformation("Config-ApplicationID:{0} start", applicationSetting.Key);

      foreach (V3EndDevice device in endDevices.End_devices)
      {
         if (DeviceAzureEnabled(device))
         {
            _logger.LogInformation("Config-ApplicationID:{0} DeviceID:{1} Device EUI:{2}", device.Ids.Application_ids.Application_id, device.Ids.Device_id, BitConverter.ToString(device.Ids.Dev_eui));

            tasks.Add(DeviceRegistration(device.Ids.Application_ids.Application_id,
                                       device.Ids.Device_id,
                                       _programSettings.ResolveDeviceModelId(device.Ids.Application_ids.Application_id, device.Attributes),
                                       stoppingToken));
         }
      }

      _logger.LogInformation("Config-ApplicationID:{0} Page:{1} processing start", applicationSetting.Key, devicePage);

      Task.WaitAll(tasks.ToArray(),stoppingToken);

      _logger.LogInformation("Config-ApplicationID:{0} Page:{1} processing finish", applicationSetting.Key, devicePage);

      endDevices = await endDeviceRegistryClient.ListAsync(
         applicationSetting.Key,
         field_mask_paths: Constants.DevicefieldMaskPaths,
         page: devicePage += 1,
         limit: _programSettings.TheThingsIndustries.DevicePageSize,
         cancellationToken: stoppingToken);
   }
   _logger.LogInformation("Config-ApplicationID:{0} finish", applicationSetting.Key);
}
catch (ApiException ex)
{
   _logger.LogError("Config-Application configuration API error:{0}", ex.StatusCode);
}

The connector application paginates the retrieval of device configuration from TTI API and a Task is created for each device returned in a page. In the Application Insights Trace logging the duration of a single page of device registrations was approximately the duration of the longest call.

There will be a tradeoff between device page size (resource utilisation by many threads) and startup duration (to many sequential page operations) which will need to be explored.

TTI V3 Gateway Device Provisioning Service(DPS) Performance

My The Things Industries(TTI) V3 connector is an Identity Translation Cloud Gateway, it maps LoRaWAN devices to Azure IoT Hub devices. The connector creates a DeviceClient for each TTI LoRaWAN device and can use an Azure Device Connection string or the Azure Device Provisioning Service(DPS).

While debugging the connector on my desktop I had noticed that using a connection string was quite a bit faster than using DPS and I had assumed this was just happenstance. While doing some testing in the Azure North Europe data-center (Closer to TTI European servers) I grabbed some screen shots of the trace messages in Azure Application Insights as the TTI Connector Application was starting.

I only have six LoRaWAN devices configured in my TTI dev instance, but I repeated each test several times and the results were consistent so the request durations are reasonable. My TTI Connector application, IoT Hub, DPS and Application insights instances are all in the same Azure Region and Azure Resource Group so networking overheads shouldn’t be significant.

Azure IoT Hub Connection device connection string

Using an Azure IoT Hub Device Shared Access policy connection string establishing a connection took less than a second.

My Azure DPS Instance

Using my own DPS instance to provide the connection string and then establishing a connection took between 3 and 7 seconds.

Azure IoT Central DPS

For my Azure IoT Central instance getting a connection string and establishing a connection took between 4 and 7 seconds.

The Azure DPS client code was copied from one of the sample applications so I have assumed it is “correct”.

using (var transport = new ProvisioningTransportHandlerAmqp(TransportFallbackType.TcpOnly))
{
	ProvisioningDeviceClient provClient = ProvisioningDeviceClient.Create( 
		Constants.AzureDpsGlobalDeviceEndpoint,
		deviceProvisiongServiceSettings.IdScope,
		securityProvider,
		transport);

	DeviceRegistrationResult result;

	if (!string.IsNullOrEmpty(modelId))
	{
		ProvisioningRegistrationAdditionalData provisioningRegistrationAdditionalData = new ProvisioningRegistrationAdditionalData()
		{
			JsonData = $"{{"modelId": "{modelId}"}}"
		};

		result = await provClient.RegisterAsync(provisioningRegistrationAdditionalData, stoppingToken);
	}
	else
    {
		result = await provClient.RegisterAsync(stoppingToken);
	}

	if (result.Status != ProvisioningRegistrationStatusType.Assigned)
	{
		_logger.LogError("Config-DeviceID:{0} Status:{1} RegisterAsync failed ", deviceId, result.Status);

		return false;
	}

	IAuthenticationMethod authentication = new DeviceAuthenticationWithRegistrySymmetricKey(result.DeviceId, (securityProvider as SecurityProviderSymmetricKey).GetPrimaryKey());

	deviceClient = DeviceClient.Create(result.AssignedHub, authentication, transportSettings);
}

I need to investigate why getting a connection string from the DPS then connecting take significantly longer (I appreciate that “behind the scenes” service calls maybe required). This wouldn’t be an issue for individual devices connecting from different locations but for my Identity Translation Cloud gateway which currently open connections sequentially this could be a problem when there are a large number of devices.

If the individual requests duration can’t be reduced (using connection pooling etc.) I may have to spin up multiple threads so multiple devices can be connecting concurrently.

TTI V3 Gateway Azure IoT Central Digital Twin Definition Language(DTDL) support

Over the last couple of days I have added limited Digital Twin Definition Language(DTDLV2) support to my The Things Industries(TTI) V3 connector so that Azure IoT Central devices can be “zero touch” provisioned. For this blog post I used five Seeeduino LoRaWAN devices left over from another abandoned project.

The first step was to configure and Azure IoT Central enrollment group (ensure “Automatically connect devices in this group” is on) and copy the IDScope and Group Enrollment key to the appsettings.json file (see sample file below for more detail)

Azure IoT Central Enrollment Group configuration

Then I created an Azure IoT Central template for the seeeduino LoRAWAN devices which are running software (developed with the Arduino tooling) that read values from a Grove – Temperature&Humidity sensor. The naming of telemetry properties in specified by the Cayenne Low Power Protocol(LPP) encoder/decoder (I check the decoded payload in TTI EndDevice “Live Data” tab).

Configuring Seeeduino LoRaWAN device template

Then I mapped the Azure IoT Central Device Group to my Azure IoT Central Enrollment Group

Associating Device Group with Group Enrollment configuration

The Device Template @Id can be configured as the “default” template for all the devices in a TTI application in the app.settings.json file.

{
...
   "ProgramSettings": {
      "Applications": {
...
      "seeeduinolorawan": {
        "AzureSettings": {
           "DeviceProvisioningServiceSettings": {
              "IdScope": "...",
              "GroupEnrollmentKey": "..."
            }
         },
         "DTDLModelId": "dtmi:ttnv3connectorclient:SeeeduinoLoRaWAN4cz;1",
         "MQTTAccessKey": "...",
         "DeviceIntegrationDefault": true,
         "DevicePageSize": 10
      }
   }.
...

The Device Template @Id can also be set using a dtdlmodelid attribute in a TTI end device settings so devices can be individually configured.

TTI Application EndDevice dtdlmodelid attribute usage

At startup the TTI Gateway enumerates through the devices in each application configured in the app.settings.json. The Azure Device Provisioning Service(DPS) is used to retrieve each device’s connection string and configure it in Azure IoT Central if required.

Azure IoT Central Device Group with no provisioned Devices
TTI Connector application connecting and provisioning EndDevices
Azure IoT Central devices mapped to an Azure IoT Central Template via the modelID

The ProvisioningRegistrationAdditionalData optional parameter of the DPS RegisterAsync method has a JSON property which is used to the specify the device ModelID.

using (var transport = new ProvisioningTransportHandlerAmqp(TransportFallbackType.TcpOnly))
{
	ProvisioningDeviceClient provClient = ProvisioningDeviceClient.Create( 
		Constants.AzureDpsGlobalDeviceEndpoint,
		deviceProvisiongServiceSettings.IdScope,
		securityProvider,
		transport);

	DeviceRegistrationResult result;

	if (!string.IsNullOrEmpty(modelId))
	{
		ProvisioningRegistrationAdditionalData provisioningRegistrationAdditionalData = new ProvisioningRegistrationAdditionalData()
		{
			JsonData = $"{{\"modelId\": \"{modelId}\"}}"
		};

		result = await provClient.RegisterAsync(provisioningRegistrationAdditionalData, stoppingToken);
	}
	else
    {
		result = await provClient.RegisterAsync(stoppingToken);
	}

	if (result.Status != ProvisioningRegistrationStatusType.Assigned)
	{
		_logger.LogError("Config-DeviceID:{0} Status:{1} RegisterAsync failed ", deviceId, result.Status);

		return false;
	}

	IAuthenticationMethod authentication = new DeviceAuthenticationWithRegistrySymmetricKey(result.DeviceId, (securityProvider as SecurityProviderSymmetricKey).GetPrimaryKey());

	deviceClient = DeviceClient.Create(result.AssignedHub, authentication, transportSettings);
}

My implementation was “inspired” by TemperatureController project in the PnP Device Samples.

Azure IoT Central Dashboard with Seeeduino LoRaWAN devices around my house that were “automagically” provisioned

I need to do some testing to confirm my code works reliably with both DPS and user provided connection strings. The RegisterAsync call is currently taking about four seconds which could be an issue for TTI applications with many devices.

TTI V3 Gateway Azure IoT Hub Support

After a couple of weeks work my The Things Industries(TTI) V3 gateway is in beta testing. For this blog post I have configured five Seeeduino LoRaWAN devices. My sensor nodes connect to an Azure IoT Hub with a Shared Access Signature(SAS) device policy connection string. I’m using Device Twin Explorer to display Telemetry from and send messages to the sensor nodes. I have also configured Azure Stream Analytics and PowerBI to graph telemetry from the sensor nodes.

Device Twin Explorer displaying telemetry from one of the Seeeduino devices

My integration uses only queued messages as often they won’t be delivered to the sensor node immediately, especially if the sensor node only sends an uplink message every 30 minutes/hour/day.

The confirmed flag should be used with care as the Azure IoT Hub messages may expire before a delivery Ack/Nack/Failed is received from the TTI.

PowerBI graph of temperature and humidity in my garage over 24 hours

To send a downlink message, TTI needs a LoRaWAN port number (plus optional queue, confirmed and priority values) which is specified in the Azure IoT Hub message custom properties.

Device explorer displaying a raw payload message which has been confirmed delivered
TTI device live data tab displaying raw payload in downlink message information tab
Azure IoT Connector console application sending raw payload to sensor node with confirmation ack
Arduino monitor displaying received raw payload from TTI

If the Azure IoT Hub message payload is valid JSON it is copied into the payload decoded downlink message property. and if it is not valid JSON it assumed to be a Base64 encoded value and copied into the payload raw downlink message property.

try
{
	// Split over multiple lines in an attempt to improve readability. A valid JSON string should start/end with {/} for an object or [/] for an array
	if (!(payloadText.StartsWith("{") && payloadText.EndsWith("}"))
										&&
		(!(payloadText.StartsWith("[") && payloadText.EndsWith("]"))))
	{
		throw new JsonReaderException();
	}

	downlink.PayloadDecoded = JToken.Parse(payloadText);
}
catch (JsonReaderException)
{
	downlink.PayloadRaw = payloadText;
}

Like the Azure IoT Central JSON validation I had to add a check that the string started with a “{” and finished with a “}” (a JSON object) or started with a “[” and finished with a “]” (a JSON array) as part of the validation process.

Device explorer displaying a JSON payload message which has been confirmed delivered

I normally wouldn’t use exceptions for flow control but I can’t see a better way of doing this.

TTI device live data tab displaying JSON payload in downlink message information tab
Azure IoT Connector console application sending JSON payload to sensor node with confirmation ack
Arduino monitor displaying received JSON payload from TTI

The build in TTI decoder only supports downlink decoded payloads with property names “value_0” through “value_x” custom encoders may support other property names.

TTI V3 Gateway Azure IoT Central Support

After a couple of weeks work my The Things Industries(TTI) V3 gateway is in beta testing. For this blog post the client is a GHI Electronics Fezduino with a RAK811 LPWAN Evaluation Board(EVB). My test device was configured in Azure IoT Central by the Device Provisioning Service(DPS) and I then manually migrated the device to each of the four templates used in this post.

The first step was to display the temperature and barometric pressure values from the Seeedstudio Grove BMP180 attached to my sensor node.

Sensor node displaying temperature and barometric pressure values
Azure IoT Central temperature and barometric pressure telemetry configuration
Azure IoT Central Telemetry Dashboard displaying temperature and barometric pressure values

The next step was to configure a simple Azure IoT Central command to send to the sensor node. This was a queued request with no payload. An example of this sort of command would be a request for a sensor node to reboot or turn on an actuator.

My integration uses only offline queued commands as often messages won’t be delivered to the sensor node immediately, especially if the sensor node only sends a message every half hour/hour/day. The confirmed flag should be used with care as the Azure IoT Hub messages may expire before a delivery Ack/Nack/Failed is received from the TTI and it consumes downlink bandwidth.

if (message.Properties.ContainsKey("method-name"))
{
}

I determine an Azure IoT Hub message is an Azure IoT Central command by the presence of the “method-name” property. If the Azure IoT Central command does not have a request payload the Azure IoT Hub message payload will contain a single “@” character so the Azure IoT Connector sends a TTI downlink message with an empty raw payload via the TTI Data API(MQTT).

if (payloadText.CompareTo("@") != 0)
{
   .
}
else
{
   downlink.PayloadRaw = "";
}
Azure IoT Central command with out a request payload value command configuration

To send a downlink message, TTI needs a LoRaWAN port number (plus optional queue, confirmed and priority values) which can’t be provided via the Azure IoT Central command setup so these values are configured in the app.settings file.

Each TTI application has zero or more Azure IoT Central command configurations which supply the port, confirmed, priority and queue settings.

  "ProgramSettings": {
    "Applications": {
      "application1": {
        "AzureSettings": {
          ...
          }
        },
        "MQTTAccessKey": "...",
        "DeviceIntegrationDefault": false,
        "MethodSettings": {
          "Reboot": {
            "Port": 21,
            "Confirmed": true,
            "Priority": "normal",
            "Queue": "push"
          },
        }
      },
      "seeeduinolorawan": {
        "AzureSettings": {
        }
        "MQTTAccessKey": "...",
        "DeviceIntegrationDefault": true,
        "DevicePageSize": 10
      }
    },
    "TheThingsIndustries": {
...
   }
}
Azure IoT Central simple command dashboard
Azure IoT Central simple command initiation
Azure IoT TTI connector application sending a simple command to my sensor node
Sensor node display simple command information. The note message payload is empty

The next step was to configure a more complex Azure IoT Central command to send to the sensor node. This was a queued request with a single value payload. An example of this sort of command could be setting the speed of a fan or the maximum temperature of a freezer for an out of band (OOB) notification to be sent.

Azure IoT Central single value command configuration
  "ProgramSettings": {
    "Applications": {
      "application1": {
        "AzureSettings": {
          ...
          }
        },
        "MQTTAccessKey": "...",
        "DeviceIntegrationDefault": false,
        "MethodSettings": {
          "Reboot": {
            "Port": 21,
            "Confirmed": true,
            "Priority": "normal",
            "Queue": "push"
          },
          "value_0": {
            "Port": 30,
            "Confirmed": true,
            "Priority": "normal",
            "Queue": "push"
          },
          "value_1": {
            "Port": 30,
            "Confirmed": true,
            "Priority": "normal",
            "Queue": "push"
          },
        }
      },
      "seeeduinolorawan": {
        "AzureSettings": {
        }
        "MQTTAccessKey": "...",
        "DeviceIntegrationDefault": true,
        "DevicePageSize": 10
      }
    },
    "TheThingsIndustries": {
...
   }
}

The value_0 settings are for the minimum temperature the value_1 settings are for the maximum temperature value.

Azure IoT Central single value command initiation
Azure IoT TTI connector application sending a single value command to my sensor node
Sensor node displaying single value command information. There are two downlink messages and each payload contains a single value

The single value command payload contains the textual representation of the value e.g. “true”/”false” or “1.23” which are also valid JSON. This initially caused issues as I was trying to splice a single value into the decoded payload.

I had to add a check that the string started with a “{” and finished with a “}” (a JSON object) or started with a “[” and finished with a “]” (a JSON array) as part of the validation process.

For a single value command the payload decoded has a single property with the method-name value as the name and the payload as the value. For a command with a JSON payload the message payload is copied into the PayloadDecoded.

I normally wouldn’t use exceptions for flow control but I can’t see a better way of doing this.

	try
	{
		// Split over multiple lines to improve readability
		if (!(payloadText.StartsWith("{") && payloadText.EndsWith("}"))
									&&
			(!(payloadText.StartsWith("[") && payloadText.EndsWith("]"))))
		{
			throw new JsonReaderException();
		}

		downlink.PayloadDecoded = JToken.Parse(payloadText);
	}
	catch (JsonReaderException)
	{
		try
		{
			JToken value = JToken.Parse(payloadText);

			downlink.PayloadDecoded = new JObject(new JProperty(methodName, value));
		}
		catch (JsonReaderException)
		{
			downlink.PayloadDecoded = new JObject(new JProperty(methodName, payloadText));
		}
	}

The final step was to configure an another Azure IoT Central command with a JSON payload to send to the sensor node. A “real-world” example of this sort of command would be setting the minimum and maximum temperatures of a freezer in a single downlink message.

Azure IoT Central JSON payload command setup
Azure IoT Central JSON payload command payload configuration
  "ProgramSettings": {
    "Applications": {
      "application1": {
        "AzureSettings": {
          ...
          }
        },
        "MQTTAccessKey": "...",
        "DeviceIntegrationDefault": false,
        "MethodSettings": {
          "Reboot": {
            "Port": 21,
            "Confirmed": true,
            "Priority": "normal",
            "Queue": "push"
          },
          "value_0": {
            "Port": 30,
            "Confirmed": true,
            "Priority": "normal",
            "Queue": "push"
          },
          "value_1": {
            "Port": 30,
            "Confirmed": true,
            "Priority": "normal",
            "Queue": "push"
          },
          "TemperatureOOBAlertMinimumAndMaximum": {
            "Port": 30,
            "Confirmed": true,
            "Priority": "normal",
            "Queue": "push"
          }
        }
      },
      "seeeduinolorawan": {
        "AzureSettings": {
        }
        "MQTTAccessKey": "...",
        "DeviceIntegrationDefault": true,
        "DevicePageSize": 10
      }
    },
    "TheThingsIndustries": {
...
   }
}
Azure IoT Central JSON payload command initiation

Azure IoT TTI connector application sending a JSON payload command to my sensor node
Sensor node displaying JSON command information. There is a single payload which contains a two values

The build in TTI decoder only supports downlink decoded payloads with property names “value_0” through “value_x” which results in some odd command names and JSON payload property names. (Custom encoders may support other property names). Case sensitivity of some configuration values also tripped me up.

TTN V3 Gateway Configuration, Deployment and Operation

After configuring, deploying and then operating my The Things Network(TTN) V2 gateway I have made some changes to my The Things Industries(TTI) V3 gateway.

TTI V3 Gateway running as a console application on my desktop

Azure IoT integration can be configured at the Device (TTN Device “azureintegration” attribute).

TTN Device AzureIntegration Attribute

Then falls back to the Application default (TTN application “azureintegrationdevicedefault” attribute).

TTN Application AzureIntegrationDeviceDefault attribute.

Then falls back to the “DeviceIntegrationDefault” setting for the Application then finally “DeviceIntegrationDefault” setting for the webjob the in the app.settings.json file

{
  ...
  "ProgramSettings": {
    "Applications": {
      "application1": {
        "AzureSettings": {
          "IoTHubConnectionString": "HostName=TT...n1.azure-devices.net;SharedAccessKeyName=device;SharedAccessKey=Am...M=",
          "DeviceProvisioningServiceSettings": {
            "IdScope": "0n...3B",
            "GroupEnrollmentKey": "Kl...Y="
          }
        },
        "MQTTAccessKey": "NNSXS.HC...YQ",
        "DeviceIntegrationDefault": false,
        "DevicePageSize": 10
      },
      "seeeduinolorawan": {
        "AzureSettings": {
          "IoTHubConnectionString": "HostName=TT...n2.azure-devices.net;SharedAccessKeyName=device;SharedAccessKey=D2q...L8=",
          "DeviceProvisioningServiceSettings": {
            "IdScope": "0n...3B",
            "GroupEnrollmentKey": "Kl...Y="
          }
        },
        "MQTTAccessKey": "NNSXS.V44...42A",
        "DeviceIntegrationDefault": true,
        "DevicePageSize": 10
      }
    },

    "AzureSettingsDefault": {
      "IoTHubConnectionString": "HostName=TT...ors.azure-devices.net;SharedAccessKeyName=device;SharedAccessKey=yd...k=",
      "DeviceProvisioningServiceSettings": {
        "IdScope": "0n...3B",
        "GroupEnrollmentKey": "Kl...Y="
      }
    },

    "TheThingsIndustries": {
      "MqttServerName": "eu1.cloud.thethings.industries",
      "MqttClientId": "MQTTClient",
      "MqttAutoReconnectDelay": "00:00:05",
      "Tenant": "br...st",
      "ApiBaseUrl": "https://br..st.eu1.cloud.thethings.industries/api/v3",
      "ApiKey": "NNSXS.NR...SA",
      "Collaborator": "de...le",
      "DevicePageSize": 10,
      "DeviceIntegrationDefault": true
    }
  }
}

This approach is now used for most of the application settings to recue the amount of configuration required for a small scale deployment.

To reduce complexity the initial version of the V3 TTI gateway doesn’t support Azure IoT Central and the Device Provisioning Service(DPS).

Azure IoT Central Connectivity Part4

The Things Network(TTN) Friendly Commands

I have built a several Proof of Concept(PoC) applications (Azure IoT Central Basic Telemetry, Basic Commands, and Request Commands) to explore to how an Azure IoT Central integration with TTN could work. This blog post is about how to configure queued and non queued Cloud to Device(C2D) Commands with request parameters so they should work with my TTN Message Queue Telemetry Transport(MQTT) Data API connector.

I have focused on commands with Analog values but the same approach should be valid for other parameter types like Boolean, Date, DateTime, Double, Duration, Enumeration, Float, Geopoint, Vector, Integer, Long, String, and Time.

Multiple versions of my Azure IoT Central templates

There was a lot of “trial and error” (26 template versions) required to figure out how to configure commands and queued commands so they can and used in TTN downlink payloads.

{
  "end_device_ids": {
    "device_id": "dev1",
    "application_ids": {
      "application_id": "app1"
    },
    "dev_eui": "4200000000000000",
    "join_eui": "4200000000000000",
    "dev_addr": "00E6F42A"
  },
  "correlation_ids": [
    "my-correlation-id",
    "..."
  ],
  "downlink_ack": {
    "session_key_id": "AWnj0318qrtJ7kbudd8Vmw==",
    "f_port": 15,
    "f_cnt": 11,
    "frm_payload": "....",
    "decoded_payload": 
    {
      "Value_0":"1.23"
      ...
    }
    "confirmed": true,
    "priority": "NORMAL",
    "correlation_ids": [
      "my-correlation-id",
      "..."
    ]
  }
}

My Azure IoT Central client application displays the generated message message including the decoded_payload field which is used by the built in Cayenned Low Power Protocol(LPP) decoder/encoder and other custom encoders/decoders.

Azure IoT Central commands for TTN/TTI integration

From the “Device Commands” form I can send commands and a queued commands which have float parameters or object parameters which contain one or more float values in a JSON payload.

For commands which call the methodHander which was been registered by calling SetMethodDefaultHandlerAsync the request payload can be JSON or plain text. If the payload is valid JSON it is “grafted”(couldn’t think of a better word) into the decoded_payload field. If the payload is not valid a JSON object with the method name as the “name” and the text payload as the value is added the decoded_payload.

private static async Task<MethodResponse> MethodCallbackDefaultHandler(MethodRequest methodRequest, object userContext)
{
   AzureIoTMethodHandlerContext receiveMessageHandlerConext = (AzureIoTMethodHandlerContext)userContext;

   Console.WriteLine($"Default handler method {methodRequest.Name} was called.");

   Console.WriteLine($"Payload:{methodRequest.DataAsJson}");
   Console.WriteLine();

   if (string.IsNullOrWhiteSpace(methodRequest.Name))
   {
      Console.WriteLine($"   Method Request Name null or white space");
      return new MethodResponse(400);
   }

   string payloadText = Encoding.UTF8.GetString(methodRequest.Data);
   if (string.IsNullOrWhiteSpace(payloadText))
   {
       Console.WriteLine($"   Payload null or white space");
       return new MethodResponse(400);
   }

   // At this point would check to see if Azure DeviceClient is in cache, this is so nasty
   if ( String.Compare( methodRequest.Name, "Analog_Output_1", true) ==0 )
   {
      Console.WriteLine($"   Device not found");
      return new MethodResponse(UTF8Encoding.UTF8.GetBytes("Device not found"), 404);
   }

   JObject payload;

   if (IsValidJSON(payloadText))
   {
      payload = JObject.Parse(payloadText);
   }
   else
   {
      payload = new JObject
      {
         { methodRequest.Name, payloadText }
      };
   }

   string downlinktopic = $"v3/{receiveMessageHandlerConext.ApplicationId}@{receiveMessageHandlerConext.TenantId}/devices/{receiveMessageHandlerConext.DeviceId}/down/push";

   DownlinkPayload downlinkPayload = new DownlinkPayload()
   {
      Downlinks = new List<Downlink>()
      {
         new Downlink()
         {
            Confirmed = false,
            //PayloadRaw = messageBody,
            PayloadDecoded = payload,
            Priority = DownlinkPriority.Normal,
            Port = 10,
            /*
            CorrelationIds = new List<string>()
            {
               methodRequest.LockToken
            }
            */
         }
      }
   };

   Console.WriteLine($"TTN Topic :{downlinktopic}");
   Console.WriteLine($"TTN downlink JSON :{JsonConvert.SerializeObject(downlinkPayload, Formatting.Indented)}");

   return new MethodResponse(200);
}
Configuration of unqueued Commands with a typed payload
The output of my test harness for a Command for a typed payload
Configuring fields of object payload(JSON)

A JSON request payload also supports downlink messages with more that one value.

The output of my test harness for a Command with an object payload(JSON)

For queued commands which call the ReceiveMessageHandler which has was registered by calling SetReceiveMessageHandler the request payload is JSON or plain text.

private async static Task ReceiveMessageHandler(Message message, object userContext)
{
   AzureIoTMessageHandlerContext receiveMessageHandlerConext = (AzureIoTMessageHandlerContext)userContext;

   Console.WriteLine($"ReceiveMessageHandler handler method was called.");

   Console.WriteLine($" Message ID:{message.MessageId}");
   Console.WriteLine($" Message Schema:{message.MessageSchema}");
   Console.WriteLine($" Correlation ID:{message.CorrelationId}");
   Console.WriteLine($" Lock Token:{message.LockToken}");
   Console.WriteLine($" Component name:{message.ComponentName}");
   Console.WriteLine($" To:{message.To}");
   Console.WriteLine($" Module ID:{message.ConnectionModuleId}");
   Console.WriteLine($" Device ID:{message.ConnectionDeviceId}");
   Console.WriteLine($" User ID:{message.UserId}");
   Console.WriteLine($" CreatedAt:{message.CreationTimeUtc}");
   Console.WriteLine($" EnqueuedAt:{message.EnqueuedTimeUtc}");
   Console.WriteLine($" ExpiresAt:{message.ExpiryTimeUtc}");
   Console.WriteLine($" Delivery count:{message.DeliveryCount}");
   Console.WriteLine($" InputName:{message.InputName}");
   Console.WriteLine($" SequenceNumber:{message.SequenceNumber}");

   foreach (var property in message.Properties)
   {
      Console.WriteLine($"   Key:{property.Key} Value:{property.Value}");
   }

   Console.WriteLine($" Content encoding:{message.ContentEncoding}");
   Console.WriteLine($" Content type:{message.ContentType}");
   string payloadText = Encoding.UTF8.GetString(message.GetBytes());
   Console.WriteLine($" Content:{payloadText}");
   Console.WriteLine();

   if (!message.Properties.ContainsKey("method-name"))
   {
      await receiveMessageHandlerConext.AzureIoTHubClient.RejectAsync(message);
      Console.WriteLine($"   Property method-name not found");
      return;
   }

   string methodName = message.Properties["method-name"];
   if (string.IsNullOrWhiteSpace( methodName))
   {
      await receiveMessageHandlerConext.AzureIoTHubClient.RejectAsync(message);
      Console.WriteLine($"   Property null or white space");
      return;
   }

   if (string.IsNullOrWhiteSpace(payloadText))
   {
      await receiveMessageHandlerConext.AzureIoTHubClient.RejectAsync(message);
      Console.WriteLine($"   Payload null or white space");
      return;
   }

   JObject payload;

   if (IsValidJSON(payloadText))
   {
      payload = JObject.Parse(payloadText);
   }
   else
   {
      payload = new JObject
      {
         { methodName, payloadText }
      };
   }

   string downlinktopic = $"v3/{receiveMessageHandlerConext.ApplicationId}@{receiveMessageHandlerConext.TenantId}/devices/{receiveMessageHandlerConext.DeviceId}/down/push";

   DownlinkPayload downlinkPayload = new DownlinkPayload()
   {
      Downlinks = new List<Downlink>()
      {
         new Downlink()
         {
            Confirmed = false,
            //PayloadRaw = messageBody,
            PayloadDecoded = payload,
            Priority = DownlinkPriority.Normal,
            Port = 10,
            CorrelationIds = new List<string>()
            {
               message.LockToken
            }
         }
      }
   };

   Console.WriteLine($"TTN Topic :{downlinktopic}");
   Console.WriteLine($"TTN downlink JSON :{JsonConvert.SerializeObject(downlinkPayload, Formatting.Indented)}");

   //await receiveMessageHandlerConext.AzureIoTHubClient.AbandonAsync(message); // message retries
   //await receiveMessageHandlerConext.AzureIoTHubClient.CompleteAsync(message);
   await receiveMessageHandlerConext.AzureIoTHubClient.CompleteAsync(message.LockToken);
   //await receiveMessageHandlerConext.AzureIoTHubClient.RejectAsync(message); // message gone no retry
}

When I initiated an Analog queued command the message handler was invoked with the name of the command capability (Analog_Output_2) in a message property called “method-name”. For a typed parameter the message content was a string representation of the value. For an object parameter the payload contains a JSON representation of the request field(s)

The output of my test harness for a Queued Command with a typed payload

A JSON request payload supports downlink message with more that one value.

The output of my test harness for a Queued Command with an object payload(JSON)

The choice of Value_0, Value_1 (I think they are float64 type) etc. for the decoded_payload is specified in the Cayenne LPP downlink decode/encoder source code.

The context information for both comments and queued commands provides additional information required to construct the MQTT topic for publishing the downlink messages.

For queued commands the correlation_id will contain the message.LockToken so that messages can be Abandoned, Completed or Rejected. The MQTT broker publishes a series of topics so the progress of the transmission of downlink message can be monitored.

If the device is not known the Abandon method will be called immediately. For command messages Completed will be called as soon as the message is “sent”

  • 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

For queued messages the point in the delivery process where the Abandoned, Completed and Rejected methods will be called will be configurable.

Azure IoT Central Connectivity Part3

Request Commands

I have built a couple of proof of Concept(PoC) applications to explore the Basic Telemetry and Basic Command functionality of Azure IoT Central. This blog post is about queued and non queued Cloud to Device(C2D) Commands with request parameters.

I initially created an Azure IoT Central Device Template with command and telemetry device capabilities.

“Collapsed” Command Request template
Command Request Template digital commands

I tried typed request and object based parameters to explorer how an integration with The Things Network(TTN)/The Things Industries(TTI) using the Message Queue Telemetry Transport(MQTT) interface could work.

Object parameter schema designer

With object based parameters the request JSON could contain more than one value though the validation of user provided information didn’t appear to be as robust.

Object parameter schema definition

I “migrated” my third preconfigured device to the CommandRequest template to see how the commands with Request parameters interacted with my PoC application.

After “migrating” my device I went back and created a Template view so I could visualise the simulated telemetry from my PoC application and provide a way to initiate commands (Didn’t really need four command tiles as they all open the Device commands form).

CommandRequest device template default view

From the Device Commands form I could send commands and a queued commands which had analog or digital parameters.

Device Three Command Tab

When I initiated an Analog non-queued command the default method handler was invoked with the name of the command capability (Analog_Output_1) as the method name and the payload contained a JSON representation of the request values(s). With a typed parameter a string representation of the value was in the message payload. With a typed parameter a string representation of the value was in the message payload rather than JSON.

Console application displaying Analog request and Analog Request queued commands

When I initiated an Analog queued command the message handler was invoked with the name of the command capability (Analog_Output_2) in a message property called “method-name” and the payload contained a JSON representation of the request value(s). With a typed parameter a string representation of the value was in the message payload rather than JSON.

When I initiated a Digital non-queued command the default method handler was invoked with the name of the command capability (Digital_Output_1) as the method name and the payload contained a JSON representation of the request values(s). With a typed parameter a string representation of the value was in the message payload rather than JSON.

Console application displaying Digital request and Digital Request queued commands

When I initiated a Digital queued command the message handler was invoked with the name of the command capability(Digital_Output_2) in a message property called “method-name” and the payload contained a JSON representation of the request value(s). With a typed parameter a string representation of the value was in the message payload rather than JSON.

The validation of user input wasn’t as robust as I expected, with problems selecting checkboxes with a mouse when there were several Boolean fields. I often had to click on a nearby input field and use the TAB button to navigate to the desired checkbox. I also had problems with ISO 8601 format date validation as the built in Date Picker returned a month, day, year date which was not editable and wouldn’t pass validation.

The next logical step would be to look at commands with a Response parameter but as the MQTT interface is The Things Network(TTN) and The Things Industries(TTI) is asynchronous and devices reporting every 5 minutes to a couple of times a day there could be a significant delay between sending a message and receiving an optional delivery confirmation or response.

Azure IoT Central Connectivity Part2

Basic Commands

I have been struggling with making The Things Network(TTN) and The Things Industries(TTI) uplink/downlink messages work well Azure IoT Central. To explore different messaging approaches I have built a proof of Concept(PoC) application which simulates TTN/TTI connectivity to an Azure IoT Hub, or Azure IoT Central.

This blog post is about queued and non queued Cloud to Device(C2D) commands without request or response parameters. I have mostly used non queued commands in other projects (my Azure IoT Hub LoRa and RF24L01 gateways) to “Restart” devices etc..

The first step was to create an Azure IoT Central Device Template with command and telemetry device capabilities.

CommandBasic device template device with command & telemetry capabilities

I then “migrated” my second preconfigured device to the CommandBasic template.

Migrating a device to TelemetryBasic template

I then went back and created a Template view to visualise the telemetry from my console application and initiate commands.

CommandBasic device template default view

I modified the PoC application adding handlers for Methods (SetMethodDefaultHandlerAsync) and Messages (SetReceiveMessageHandlerAsync).

private static async Task ApplicationCore(CommandLineOptions options)
{
   DeviceClient azureIoTHubClient;
   Timer MessageSender;

   try
   {
      // Open up the connection
      azureIoTHubClient = DeviceClient.CreateFromConnectionString(options.AzureIoTHubconnectionString, TransportType.Amqp_Tcp_Only);

      await azureIoTHubClient.OpenAsync();
      await azureIoTHubClient.SetReceiveMessageHandlerAsync(ReceiveMessageHandler, azureIoTHubClient);
      await azureIoTHubClient.SetMethodHandlerAsync("Named", MethodCallbackNamedHandler, null);
      await azureIoTHubClient.SetMethodDefaultHandlerAsync(MethodCallbackDefaultHandler, null);

      MessageSender = new Timer(TimerCallbackAsync, azureIoTHubClient, new TimeSpan(0, 0, 10), new TimeSpan(0, 2, 0));

      Console.WriteLine("Press any key to exit");
      while (!Console.KeyAvailable)
      {
         await Task.Delay(100);
      }
   }
   catch (Exception ex)
   {
      Console.WriteLine($"Main {ex.Message}");
      Console.WriteLine("Press <enter> to exit");
      Console.ReadLine();
   }
}

The method handler displays the method name and the message payload.

private static async Task<MethodResponse> MethodCallbackDefaultHandler(MethodRequest methodRequest, object userContext)
{
   Console.WriteLine($"Default handler method {methodRequest.Name} was called.");

   Console.WriteLine($"Payload:{methodRequest.DataAsJson}");
   Console.WriteLine();

   //return new MethodResponse(400);
   //return new MethodResponse(404);
   return new MethodResponse(200);
}

The message handler displays a selection the message properties, any attributes and the message payload.

 private async static Task ReceiveMessageHandler(Message message, object userContext)
{
   DeviceClient azureIoTHubClient = (DeviceClient)userContext;

   Console.WriteLine($"ReceiveMessageHandler handler method was called.");

   Console.WriteLine($" Message ID:{message.MessageId}");
   Console.WriteLine($" Message Schema:{message.MessageSchema}");
   Console.WriteLine($" Correlation ID:{message.CorrelationId}");
   Console.WriteLine($" Component name:{message.ComponentName}");
   Console.WriteLine($" To:{message.To}");
   Console.WriteLine($" Module ID:{message.ConnectionModuleId}");
   Console.WriteLine($" Device ID:{message.ConnectionDeviceId}");
   Console.WriteLine($" CreatedAt:{message.CreationTimeUtc}");
   Console.WriteLine($" EnqueuedAt:{message.EnqueuedTimeUtc}");
   Console.WriteLine($" ExpiresAt:{message.ExpiryTimeUtc}");
   Console.WriteLine($" Delivery count:{message.DeliveryCount}");
   Console.WriteLine($" InputName:{message.InputName}");
   Console.WriteLine($" SequenceNumber:{message.SequenceNumber}");

   foreach (var property in message.Properties)
   {
     Console.WriteLine($"   Key:{property.Key} Value:{property.Value}");
   }

   Console.WriteLine($" Content encoding:{message.ContentEncoding}");
   Console.WriteLine($" Content type:{message.ContentType}");
   Console.WriteLine($" Content:{Encoding.UTF8.GetString(message.GetBytes())}");
   Console.WriteLine();

   //await azureIoTHubClient.AbandonAsync(message); // message retries
   await azureIoTHubClient.CompleteAsync(message);
   //await azureIoTHubClient.RejectAsync(message); // message gone no retry
}

From the Device Commands tab I can could non queued and a queued commands

Device Two Commands tab

When I sent a non-queued command the default method handler was invoked with the name of the command capability (Digital_Output_0) as the method name and an empty payload. In the Azure IoT Central interface I couldn’t see any difference for successful (HTTP 200 OK) or failure (HTTP 400 Bad Request or HTTP 404 Not Found) responses. If the application was not running the command failed immediately.

Console application displaying non-queued call

With Azure IoT Explorer failure responses were visible.

Azure IoT Explorer show message with 404 response

When I sent a queued command the message handler was invoked with the name of the command capability(Digital_Output_1) in a message property called “method-name” and the payload contained only an “@” character.

Console application displaying queued call

If the application was not running the command was queued until the Console application was started. When the console application was running and AbandonAsync was called rather than CompleteAsync the message was retried 10 times. If RejectAsync was called rather than CompleteAsync the message was deleted from the queue and not retried. There didn’t appear to be any difference for the displayed Azure IoT Central or Azure IoT Hub explorer results when AbandonAsync or RejectAsync were called.

I also created a personal dashboard to visualise the telemetry data and initiate commands. The way the two commands were presented on the dashboard was quite limited so I will go back to the documentation and see what I missed