Thin Edge JSON format

Thin Edge JSON is a lightweight format used in thin-edge.io to represent measurements data. This format can be used to represent single-valued measurements, multi-valued measurements or a combination of both along with some auxiliary data like the timestamp at which the measurement(s) was generated.

Single-valued measurements

Simple single-valued measurements like temperature or pressure measurement with a single value can be expressed as follows:

{
    "temperature": 25
}

where the key represents the measurement type, and the value represents the measurement value. The keys can only have alphanumeric characters, and the "_" (underscore) character but must not start with an underscore. The values can only be numeric. String, Boolean or other JSON object values are not allowed.

Multi-valued measurements

A multi-valued measurement is a measurement that is comprised of multiple values. Here is the representation of a three_phase_current measurement that consists of L1, L2 and L3 values, representing the current on each phase:

{
    "three_phase_current": {
      "L1": 9.5,
      "L2": 10.3,
      "L3": 8.8
    }
}

where the key is the top-level measurement type and value is a JSON object having further key-value pairs representing each aspect of the multi-valued measurement. Only one level of nesting is allowed, meaning the values of the measurement keys at the inner level can only be numeric values. For example, a multi-level measurement as follows is NOT valid:

{ 
    "three_phase_current": {
        "phase1": {
            "L1": 9.5
        },
        "phase2": {
            "L2": 10.3
        },
        "phase3": {
            "L3": 8.8
        }
    }
}

because the values at the second level(phase1, phase2 and phase3) are not numeric values.

Grouping measurements

Multiple single-valued and multi-valued measurements can be grouped into a single Thin Edge JSON message as follows:

{ 
    "temperature": 25,
    "three_phase_current": {
        "L1": 9.5,
        "L2": 10.3,
        "L3": 8.8
    },
    "pressure": 98 
}

The grouping of measurements is usually done to represent measurements collected at the same instant of time.

Auxiliary measurement data

When thin-edge.io receives a measurement, it will add a timestamp to it before any further processing. If the user doesn't want to rely on thin-edge.io generated timestamps, an explicit timestamp can be provided in the measurement message itself by adding the time value as a string in ISO 8601 format using time as the key name, as follows:

{ 
    "time": "2020-10-15T05:30:47+00:00", 
    "temperature": 25, 
    "location": { 
        "latitude": 32.54, 
        "longitude": -117.67, 
        "altitude": 98.6 
    }, 
    "pressure": 98 
}

The time key is a reserved keyword and hence can not be used as a measurement key. The time field must be defined at the root level of the measurement JSON and not allowed at any other level, like inside the object value of a multi-valued measurement. Non-numeric values like the ISO 8601 timestamp string are allowed only for such reserved keys and not for regular measurements.

Here is the complete list of reserved keys that has special meanings inside the thin-edge.io framework and hence must not be used as measurement keys:

KeyDescription
timeTimestamp in ISO 8601 string format
typeInternal to thin-edge.io

Sending measurements to thin-edge.io

The thin-edge.io framework exposes some MQTT endpoints that can be used by local processes to exchange data between themselves as well as to get some data forwarded to the cloud. It will essentially act like an MQTT broker against which you can write your application logic. Other thin-edge processes can use this broker as an inter-process communication mechanism by publishing and subscribing to various MQTT topics. Any data can be forwarded to the connected cloud-provider as well, by publishing the data to some standard topics.

All topics with the prefix tedge/ are reserved by thin-edge.io for this purpose. To send measurements to thin-edge.io, the measurements represented in Thin Edge JSON format can be published to the tedge/measurements topic. Other processes running on the thin-edge device can subscribe to this topic to process these measurements.

If the messages published to this tedge/measurements topic is not a well-formed Thin Edge JSON, then that message won’t be processed by thin-edge.io, not even partially, and an appropriate error message on why the validation failed will be published to a dedicated tedge/errors topic. The messages published to this topic will be highly verbose error messages and can be used for any debugging during development. You should not rely on the structure of these error messages to automate any actions as they are purely textual data and bound to change from time-to-time.

More topics will be added under the tedge/ topic in future to support more data types like events, alarms etc. So, it is advised to avoid any sub-topics under tedge/ for any other data exchange between processes.

Here is the complete list of topics reserved by thin-edge.io for its internal working:

TopicDescription
tedge/Reserved root topic of thin-edge.io
tedge/measurementsTopic to publish measurements to thin-edge.io
tedge/measurements/<child-id>Topic to publish measurements to thin-edge.io's child device
tedge/errorsTopic to subscribe to receive any error messages emitted by thin-edge.io while processing measurements

Sending measurements to the cloud

The thin-edge.io framework allows users forward all the measurements generated and published to tedge/measurements MQTT topic in the thin-edge device to any IoT cloud provider that it is connected to, with the help of a mapper component designed for that cloud. The responsibility of a mapper is to subscribe to the tedge/measurements topic to receive all incoming measurements represented in the cloud vendor neutral Thin Edge JSON format, to a format that the connected cloud understands. Refer to Cloud Message Mapper Architecture for more details on the mapper component.