We use MQTT as the protocol to connect all system components.

MQTT Broker

Install Mosquitto on a Raspberry Pi

Mosquitto Broker

sudo apt-get install mosquitto

Mosquitto Command-Line Clients

sudo apt-get install mosquitto-clients

Testing Mosquitto

You can now try to subscribe to a topic

mosquitto_sub -d -t example_topic

and publish something on that topic:

mosquitto_pub -d -t example_topic -m "Time for a coffee"

Enabling Websockets

If you want to connect to the MQTT broker also via MQTT over websockets (usually from Javascript) then you need to enable Websockets. For that, create a file called mosquitto.conf in the folder /etc/mosquitto/conf.d and add the follwing lines:

listener 1883
protocol mqtt

listener 1884
protocol websockets


We have setup an MQTT broker with the address It is configured with the default ports 1883 for connections via TCP and 1884 for connections via websockets.

listener 1883
protocol mqtt

listener 1884
protocol websockets

MQTT in Python

After setting up your broker, you can easily make use MQTT in Python with the paho-mqtt package. To install this package with pip, use the command:

python -m pip install paho-mqtt

We can now make a simple script that is able to publish information on a topic, to the broker:

import paho.mqtt.client as mqtt

def on_publish(client,userdata,result):
    print("data published \n")

client1= mqtt.Client("test1")
client1.on_publish = on_publish
ret= client1.publish("mqtt_test","The broker is working properly")

Now we need a subscriber to connect to the broker and recieve the messages we publish:

import paho.mqtt.client as mqtt
    def on_connect(client, userdata, flags, rc):
    print("Connected with result code "+str(rc))

def on_message(client, userdata, msg):
    print("Topic: " + msg.topic)
    print("Message: " + str(msg.payload))

client = mqtt.Client()
client.on_connect = on_connect
client.on_message = on_message

client.connect("", 1883, 60)


More information on the paho package can be found here:

If there is an error in the on_message() function, you may not see an error and nothing is happening, and it may look as if the client doesn't receive any messages. To prevent such errors, add a print('Message received!') line at the start of the message so you see it was called. Make sure this first statement does not have any problems (like unknown variables) so that it does not fail.

You can also place any code that could cause an error into a try: ... except: block to handle any exceptions locally.

Subscribe to system messages


Debugging With MQTT.FX

MQTT.FX is a tool useful during development. (If you wonder, the name MQTT.FX just comes from the fact that it is implemented in Java FX, but you can forget about that.) Using MQTT.FX is really simple, but because we have now talked about brokers, clients, publishers and subscribers, you may loose track and wonder what this MQTT.FX does: Think of it as a debugger for MQTT, and you can use it like Wireshark. Once the system is done, you don't need MQTT.FX anymore.

Essentially, MQTT.FX is a MQTT client, and can as such connect to an MQTT broker, subscribe to topics and send messages to topics. This does not sound like much. However, MQTT.FX has a generic user interface, you can use MQTT.FX while you construct your application to see how the other system components publish messages, and you can also "inject" messages into the system, by publishing to any topic you want.

Download MQTT.FX

Publishing Messages

Imagine you have created a MQTT client that runs a certain action when it receives a message, but you are not doen with the component that should send the message. To test at least the component that should receive the message, you can use MQTT.FX to publish a message with that content to the topic, and the component under test will behave as if the message was sent in the final system.

Observing Communication

Because MQTT uses the publish-subscribe pattern, it can simply subscribe to any topics that are interesting in your application and you can see which messages are sent to these topics, without disturbing the communication in the system. To achieve the same in HTTP, for instance, you need a tool like Wireshark.

MQTT Explorer

MQTT.FX does not run (yet) on Macs with Apple processors, but there is a similar program that you can install from the app store, MQTT Explorer. The image below shows how to add our default broker to it.