Particle’s Rules Engine is now open source and available to all

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Particle is open-sourcing the Rules Engine, our drag-and-drop application builder based on Node-RED. It is now available and free-to-use for our development community. Instructions for deploying your own Rules Engine instance can now be found in our documentation, here.

Update on the Rules Engine

At Particle, our goal is to make it possible for anyone from individual developers to enterprises to build and deploy reliable IoT applications at scale.

In late 2018, we released a Developer Preview of the Rules Engine, our drag-and-drop IoT application builder built on top of Node-RED. Our vision for the Rules Engine was to simplify cloud-side application development by providing an easy-to-use visual programming tool that integrates directly with Particle’s event system. We hoped Rules Engine would enable fleet managers to build dashboards, alerting systems, and data integrations that could scale seamlessly alongside the rest of the Particle platform.

The response from our customers was energizing — we received thousands of applications to try the Rules Engine, and developers created hundreds of apps that processed millions of individual messages. We learned a tremendous amount from this usage:

  • Rules Engine shines in rapid prototyping. Rules Engine users were able to build valuable stream processing flows in under an hour using Node-RED’s massive library of nodes that replaced applications that took days or weeks to build.
  • The most popular use cases were simple dashboarding, ETL, and alerting tasks that fleet managers leveraged to gain a better perspective into the operation of their fleet and trigger time-sensitive business responses to data insights.
  • Node-RED is currently best suited for individually-managed usage. As a foundational technology, Node-RED is not designed for multi-tenant use or horizontal scalability, requiring custom infrastructure and alerting that proved challenging and expensive for our team to maintain and scale.

As a result of these learnings, we’ve decided to end the access-only preview for the Rules Engine, open source our Rules Engine nodes, and enable our entire developer community to deploy individualized instances of the Rules Engine for their own use. Note that as a result of this transition to an open source project, Particle will be ending active first party development and support for the Rules Engine.

Deploying your own Rules Engine instance

If you’re interested in building with the Rules Engine, we’re providing simple instructions in our documentation for how to deploy your own Rules Engine instance using cloud-hosted or self-hosted infrastructure. Both options are free to use and as simple as:

  1. Spinning up a pre-packaged Node-RED instance on a local machine or with IBM’s free hosting solution
  2. Installing Particle’s nodes in the Palette tab
  3. Following our drag-and-drop instructions to build your first “Hello World” workflow

Although we’re ending active development and support for the Rules Engine, we’re excited to take the insights and learnings that we’ve gained through this Developer Preview and bake them directly into the platform itself. It’s clear that the challenge of processing, visualizing, and alerting on IoT data is a major obstacle for many of our customers, and we’re excited for the next phase of the journey.