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Documentation > Features > MQTT client type
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MQTT Client Type

In the implementation of TBMQ, two distinct types of clients are supported: DEVICE and APPLICATION. This categorization is based on our extensive experience in the IoT ecosystem, where we have observed that the majority of clients can be classified into one of these two predominant use cases.

  • The DEVICE clients primarily engaged in publishing a significant volume of messages while subscribing to a limited number of topics with relatively low message rates. These clients are typically associated with IoT devices or sensors that frequently transmit data to TBMQ.

  • APPLICATION clients specialize in subscribing to topics with high message rates. They often require messages to be persisted when the client is offline with later delivery, ensuring the availability of crucial data. APPLICATION clients are commonly utilized for real-time analytics, data processing, or other application-level functionalities.

By categorizing clients into these distinct types, we can better tailor TBMQ to accommodate the specific requirements and performance expectations of each use case. This segregation of clients simplifies the implementation of different IoT scenarios, thereby optimizing overall system performance.

The determination of client type occurs during the processing of the CONNECT packet, with client authentication playing a pivotal role in identifying the client type. Further details regarding client authentication can be found in the security guide, which provide comprehensive information on securing client connections.

If both Basic and TLS authentications are disabled, the connecting client will always be assigned the DEVICE type. However, when Basic or TLS authentication is enabled, the client type is determined by the MQTT credentials used during the authentication process. Each MQTT client credential incorporates a clientType field that explicitly defines the client type. For step-by-step instructions on creating MQTT credentials, please refer to the designated guide.

Client persistence

All messages published by MQTT clients are persistently stored in the tbmq.msg.all Kafka topic. The subsequent processing of these messages varies based on the client type and whether the client is persistent or non-persistent.

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To delve into the details of client persistence, it is worthwhile to explore the concept of the Clean Session property in MQTT v3.x or the Clean Start and Session Expiry Interval properties in MQTT v5. These properties, defined in the respective MQTT specifications, provide insights into the behavior and handling of client sessions in terms of persistence.

TBMQ employs a Kafka consumer that actively polls messages from the tbmq.msg.all topic, subsequently forwarding these messages to their intended recipients. However, the processing logic differs between persistent and non-persistent clients.

  • For non-persistent clients, messages are directly published to the subscribed clients.

  • Persistent clients maintain a session state that persists beyond individual connections, allowing them to receive messages even when they were offline. This persistence enables TBMQ to ensure message delivery to the client once it reconnects. Consequently, a distinct approach is employed for message processing intended for such clients. However, please note, that if the subscribing client is both persistent and subscribed with a Quality of Service (QoS) level of 0 (AT_MOST_ONCE), all the messages associated with that subscription will be delivered to the client without any supplementary steps. The same holds true for a persistent subscriber with a QoS level higher than 0, as long as the publisher is transmitting messages with a QoS level of 0. This behavior is implemented as a result of QoS level downgrading.

By leveraging Kafka as intermediary message storage and employing different processing strategies based on client characteristics, TBMQ optimizes message delivery and ensures reliable communication in both persistent and non-persistent client scenarios.

Device client

Clients of the DEVICE type can exhibit either persistent or non-persistent behavior, depending on the settings specified in the CONNECT packet, as discussed in the Client persistence section. In the case of persistent DEVICE clients available, related messages are directed to an additional Kafka topic known as tbmq.msg.persisted.

To facilitate the delivery of messages to both online and offline clients, a dedicated Kafka consumer diligently polls messages from the tbmq.msg.persisted topic. These messages are then processed and persisted in a PostgreSQL database before being dispatched to the subscribed online clients. This approach ensures that both online and offline clients can receive all messages, guaranteeing consistent message delivery across different client states.

When offline clients reconnect to the broker, they receive the persisted messages that were stored during their offline period. The number of messages received by an offline client upon reconnection can be controlled by modifying the MQTT_PERSISTENT_SESSION_DEVICE_PERSISTED_MESSAGES_LIMIT environment variable. This enables fine-tuning of the message retrieval behavior for offline clients, allowing for customized handling of the number of messages they receive upon reconnection.

Application client

Clients of the APPLICATION type are exclusively persistent.

In case the client is authenticated as an APPLICATION type but is not persistent, messages destined for that client will be directly sent without undergoing additional persistence steps. To alert about the implications of non-persistent APPLICATION clients, a warning message is displayed prominently on the client session details page.

Upon polling messages from the tbmq.msg.all Kafka topic, the messages are subsequently forwarded to a dedicated Kafka topic. For each connecting APPLICATION client, an individual Kafka topic is automatically created. The naming convention for this topic follows the format:

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tbmq.msg.app.$CLIENT_ID

where $CLIENT_ID represents the unique client ID associated with the connecting client.

Important notice: if the client ID contains characters other than alphanumeric characters, a hash value derived from the client ID will be used for the construction of the topic. This ensures compatibility and adherence to topic naming conventions, as some special characters may not be allowed or supported in topic names. By generating a hash from the client ID, any incompatible or prohibited characters are effectively handled, ensuring proper topic construction and functionality.

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tbmq.msg.app.$CLIENT_ID_HASH

The behavior described above, where a hash is used for topic construction when the client ID contains special characters, is controlled by the TB_APP_PERSISTED_MSG_CLIENT_ID_VALIDATION environment variable. By default, this variable is enabled, meaning that the validation process is active, ensuring proper topic creation. However, if you choose to disable this validation by setting the variable to false, the system will no longer create Kafka topics for clients with special characters in their client ID, resulting in a failure to create the corresponding topics. It’s important to consider this when configuring your environment and handling client IDs with special characters.

To ensure efficient processing and optimal performance, a distinct Kafka consumer continuously polls messages from the aforementioned topic. This consumer is responsible for delivering the messages to the corresponding application client. By processing each application client in a separate thread, this approach enables enhanced performance and streamlined message delivery.