Plant Buddy: Prototyping an IoT application with InfluxDB

It’s easy to stand up an IoT monitoring app in InfluxDB. Here’s a step-by-step tutorial for building an app that monitors the health of a plant. The prototype is serverless, with zero infrastructure to manage, easy with intuitive tools built for developers, and free — we built this app on the free tier of InfluxDB.

The scenario

Using parts and sensors that I had lying around my workshop, I created a monitoring system for the plant on workbench. What I would like is to get a stream of environmental information about the plant. I will focus mostly on the soil moisture level, though the other sensors could benefit from the same treatment.

The sensors

To build the sensor array, I rummaged through my box of goodies and came up with a set of relevant sensors that I had lying around:

The prototype is not pretty, but it works.

I used an Arduino Nano clone for the microcontroller. The Microcontroller lacks a wifi chip, so I am simply streaming the data from the sensors over USB to a Raspberry Pi 3 with integrated wifi, etc… This has the additional benefit of allowing me to easily use Python for sending the data.

The Arduino code is on GitHub in case you are interested. Again, none of this code is InfluxDB specific, it all relates to transmitting the sensor data to the Raspberry Pi, which acts as a sort of edge gateway in this setup.

Python code to structure sensor data

InfluxDB uses a line protocol format. That means that I need some Python code to create a string in the right format to send to Influx.

There is excellent documentation available on the line protocol format. To briefly summarize, a line has the following parts:

  • The name of the measurement
  • An optional set of tags
  • A set of fields with their values
  • An optional timestamp

Tags are very useful in circumstances where you need to differentiate the source of the data. For example, if I had several plants, I could use tags to differentiate which plant a specific reading is from. For this prototype, there is only one plant, so I will skip the tags. If you don’t supply a timestamp, then the database will add timestamp on the server for you. It’s easy enough to add a timestamp on the Raspberry Pi, so I will just do that.

Therefore, my simple line protocol will be:

sensorname measurement=value timestamp

I wrote a program that simply reads from the USB port, and prints out the line protocol. You can see the whole program in GitHub, but here is the function that creates the line protocol.

def get_line_protocol(sensor, reading, value):
	line = "{} {}={} {}"
	timestamp = str(int( * 1000))
	return line.format(sensor, reading, value, timestamp)

An example output looks like this:

moisture soilMoisture=521 1568289900477

Now I’m ready to start writing to InfluxDB! I just need to set up a free account.

Get an InfluxDB account

There is a normal signup flow — it takes less than a minute to get an account. You just have to acknowledge your email.

Get started with InfluxDB Cloud

InfluxDB Cloud signup

Getting started - Free Plan

Getting started with InfluxDB Cloud

Set up a bucket

A “bucket” on InfluxDB is pretty much what it sounds like. You can add any time series that you want to a bucket. For example, I am going to send a mix of sensor data. I will need the bucket later so my Python code can tell InfluxDB where to store the data.

Go to the Buckets subsection of the Load Data screen.

InfluxDB Cloud 2.0 - load data buckets

Notice that there are three buckets created already. The _monitoring and _tasks buckets are important for supporting features that we will use later, so leave those alone. On the other hand, I typically delete the default bucket as a first step. You could rename it if you prefer, but for some reason my habit is to delete the bucket and create a new one.

Use the + Create Bucket button to get the Create Bucket dialog. Because this is a free account, I don’t get infinite data retention. That’s fine for my prototype, though. I’ll set the retention period to one day for simplicity.

InfluxDB Cloud 2.0 - load data buckets

InfluxDB Cloud 2.0 - create bucket

And now my bucket is ready to get some data!

InfluxDB Cloud 2.0 - load data

Get a token

There are various good ways to send your data to InfluxDB. Typically, you will use Telegraf to send your data to InfluxDB. However, there is also a clean REST API that you can use. This means that you have to do all of the error handling, and optimizations that Telegraf can handle for you, which makes sense in certain production use cases. For prototyping, I find using the REST API is simple because there is one less component to set up. Perhaps I will migrate to Telegraf in a future post, as it is quite easy to install and run on a Raspberry Pi.

So, the main thing that I need is a token. Don’t worry, I will delete this token right after publishing this. :)

First, I’ll go to the token sub screen in the Load Data screen in the left- hand nav.

InfluxDB Cloud - load data screen

InfluxDB Cloud - describe token

Again, there is a default token available, but I will use the + Generate button to create a read/write token. Plant Buddy is not going to be administering my database, so it doesn’t need full access. In fact, it only needs Write access, but I might want to write some “Read” code as part of the prototype, so I will make it Read/Write for now.

InfluxDB Cloud - Load data tokens - generate

Select the buckets that you want to access:

Generate Read Write Token

Again, for whatever reason, I like to delete the default token.

InfluxDB Cloud - default token

Now I can click on the token, view it, and copy it into my code. Just in case you are getting naughty ideas, I am going to delete the token before I publish this. :)

InfluxDB Cloud - summary of access permissions

Python code for sending the data

Now that I have the token, I simply need to create a POST request to send the line protocol data to InfluxDB. I need to know:

  • My token
  • The bucket where I want to send the data
  • My organization name
  • The URL to post to

Now that I have the token, I can construct the POST request:

def send_line(line):
    url = "{}api/v2/write?org={}&bucket={}&precision={}".format(influx_url, organization, bucket, precision)
    headers = {"Authorization": "Token {}".format(influx_token)}
    r =, data=line, headers=headers)

The full Python module is available on GitHub. I tried to set it up to be a decent starting place for your own prototyping.

When I run it, I can see from the output that the data is being gathered from the sensors and formatted properly:

$ ./plant-buddy --token=tfkb-kcg22A2oHQzXXHOLRZW3ohMoXyaX_XXXXXXXXX
moisture soilMoisture=526 1568289892854
temp airTemp=028 1568289893544
humidity humidity=067 1568289894447
temp soilTemp=025 1568289895168
light light=162 1568289895809
moisture soilMoisture=522 1568289896665
temp airTemp=028 1568289897280
humidity humidity=067 1568289897942
temp soilTemp=025 1568289898565
light light=163 1568289899160
moisture soilMoisture=521 1568289900477
temp airTemp=027 1568289901420
humidity humidity=066 1568289902134
temp soilTemp=025 1568289902849

Visualizing data

So, now we can look at the data streaming into the database. Just select Data Explorer on the left hand nav.

InfluxDB Cloud - Data Explorer

Then select the bucket that you want to visualize. This is easy for me since I only have one bucket.

InfluxDB Could - Data Explorer PlantBuddy

Then you can choose measurement and fields you want to visualize. For this example I care most about soil moisture levels, so I will focus on that.

Data Explorer- soil moisture levels

However, you can look at as many measures as you want.

Data Explorer with graph

There is also a selection of other interesting visualizations that you can choose.

Data Explorer - sensor data

So, pretty cool. With basically no effort, I can visualize my sensor data.

Alerts and notifications

It’s nice that I can visualize the data, but it would be good to know when I need to water the plant. The free tier comes with Slack alerts built-in, so I will use that.

First I need to set up Slack to receive an alert. I already have a personal Slack server, so I’ll just use that.

Setting up Slack to receive a webhook callback is well-documented, so I won’t cover that here. In summary you create a Slack app, and in the Slack settings, you get an incoming webhook URL. Mine looks like this:

To use the webhook, all I have to do is:

  1. Create a set of notification levels
  2. Create alerts for the levels
  3. Customize the message if I wish

First is to select Monitoring & Alerting from the left hand nav. Since I don’t have any alerts set up, I am prompted to get started.

InfluxDB Cloud - monitoring and alerting

Next, I create a query for the check. Essentially, what do I want to monitor? I am simply going to read the last soil moisture reading.

InfluxDB Cloud - query for the check

After building the query, I define the check. This involves how often to run the check as well as the notification levels. InfluxDB 2.0 comes with built-in notification levels. If these don’t suit your particular scenario, don’t worry, you can use the Tasks feature to do highly custom interactions. I set the different notification levels from Ok to Critical. Critical is a moisture reading level below 100.

InfluxDB Cloud - soil moisture check

Next I create a Notification Endpoint. I just use the webhook URL that I made from my Slack app.

InfluxDB Cloud - Create a Notification Endpoint

Finally, I make the notification rule itself. As you can see, I configured it to send a notification every minute when the soil moisture level is critical.

Monitoring and alerting - InfluxDB

There are other types of checks that are important. For example, I can create a “deadman” notification that alerts me that Plant Buddy stops sending data.

Meanwhile, if I pull the sensor from the soil, you can see that the soil moisture level crashes.

Data Explorer dashboard

I also got notified in Slack as expected. And will continue to get notified every minute until I solve the problem.

Slack notifications

The Check and Notification Rule both have templates for the messages, which you can customize in different ways. I changed them to the following:

Soil moisture check - graph

InfluxDB Cloud - edit notification rule

This results in a nicer message in Slack.

Slack message

Smoothing the soil moisture reading

As you can see, the soil moisture reading can be a little jittery, and I would like to smooth this over a little. Additionally, my PlantBuddy bucket stores a reading for each sensor every 3 seconds. While this is very useful for certain types of analysis and functionality, storing all of this data long-term serves little value and will add to the expense of the project.

There are many ways to approach this. I am going to take a simple approach for a first iteration.

  • I will create a new bucket to hold downsampled data.
  • I will write a query that takes the last 5 minutes of data from the raw bucket, computes a mean, and puts this data into the new “compressed” bucket.
  • I will create a task from this query that runs every five minutes.

Create a new bucket

First I create a new bucket for holding the downsampled data. Note that I am still using a free tier account, so I can’t turn the retention up past 72 hours yet.

Use Flux to “compress” the data

Now I am going to write a Flux query in the Data Explorer to compress the data.

Introduction to Flux

In case you aren’t familiar, Flux is a new query language that is designed to be a general-purpose data transformation language. It was designed to be simple to use, but also powerful enough to handle any data transformation task.

Conceptually, Flux reminds me a bit of piping with awk. Essentially, you write a series of statements that takes a table of data as input, does some change to the table, and then outputs a new table to the next statement.

Flux has the following interesting combination of language characteristics:

  • Flux is strongly and statically typed. This means that many errors can be caught right when you create them, but also you can get rich editor features, such as statement completion, inline help, etc.
  • Flux does not require type specification when declaring variables. Though strongly and statically typed, Flux is able to infer types from context, so as when you are writing Flux code, you don’t have to worry about types.
  • Flux uses keyword arguments everywhere. This makes Flux code much easier to read and understand.

If none of that makes sense to you, or you just don’t care, that’s fine. It is probably easier to show than to explain.

First, go to the Data Explorer View.

Then click “Script Editor” to switch to the Script Editor view.

Now I can interactively write some Flux. Generally, a Flux script will start with a “from” statement. This tells the script where to get the first table to work on. In this case, I want to get the table from the PlantBuddy bucket, because that is where all of the data is. “from” is a function, and functions in Flux use named parameters. So, I will tell my query to get the initial data from a bucket called “PlantBuddy” like this:

from(bucket: "PlantBuddy")

This should simply return a table with all of the data in the bucket. However, InfluxDB Cloud 2.0 does not support this because this is likely a TON of data to export, and is very unlikely what you meant to do. Note that this is not a limitation of the Flux language, per se, but is just in place to keep users from accidentally blowing out their usage quotas accidentally, and not taxing the database engine with accidental queries.

Therefore, it is necessary to add at least one pipe to limit the data to select. In Flux, you use the pipe forward operator (|>) to output a table to the next operation in the query. This is obviously similar to the pipe symbol in Unix systems. So, to start, I will ask InfluxDB for just the last 5 minutes of data from the bucket. I do this by “piping” the data in the bucket to the range function. The range function has start and end arguments. I will set “start” to “5 minutes ago” using the following notation:

from(bucket: "PlantBuddy")
  |> range(start: -5m)

Now if I hit “submit”, I can see the last 5 minutes of data returned.

To make it easier to see the resulting table, I can switch to “Raw Data” view.

Now I can really see the data returned.

Flux includes functions for ordering the data, but I don’t particularly need that. However, I only want the soilMoisture readings. So I will pipe this table into a filter function. I can use the Functions list to get some help writing the function. It provides a stub implementation, and useful documentation right inside the Query Builder.

filter() is a function that takes another function as an argument. This pattern may be familiar to users of various JavaScript libraries. This should feel like creating an anonymous function if this is something you are familiar with. If not, don’t worry, it’s quite simple both conceptually and in practice.

Here is the line of Flux that does the filtering:

|> filter(fn: (r) => r._measurement == "cpu")

We can break this down a little to help understand it a little more. “filter” is the name of the function. filter() requires a named parameter called “fn” which is another function. This means I need to pass another function into the filter() function. The function that I pass in will do the actual filtering. “r” stands for “Record” and is an implicit variable that a row of the table is being passed into the the filtering implementation. The actual filtering is just a boring boolean expression. If it returns true, the record is kept. Otherwise, the record is tossed.

Of course, if I submit this query, I get no results because my device doesn’t measure any CPUs. What I care about is the soilMoisture readings, and those captured in rows where the field is called “soilMoisture.”

And we can see that this working. So, now I can add another pipe to calculate the mean of all of those fields. I can search for the function and get a little help.

The mean function uses the _value field by default, which works for me, so I can just add that to my code:

from(bucket: "PlantBuddy")
|> range(start: -5m)
|> filter(fn: (r) => r._field == "soilMoisture")
|> mean()

Now when I submit that query, I get a single value in the table, the mean of all of the rows passed through the pipes so far.

I’m not quite ready to move it to my new bucket yet because the result of the mean() function removed the _time column and I will get an error if I try to add the result to the bucket without the _time column. The mean() function did add a _start column and a _stop column. I don’t need either of those, so I will simply use the rename() function to change the name of the _stop column to “_time”:

from(bucket: "PlantBuddy")
  |> range(start: -5m)
  |> filter(fn: (r) => r._field == "soilMoisture")
  |> mean()
  |> rename(columns: {_stop: "_time"})

And if I submit that, I can see that there is now a _time column.

Now I just need to send it to my bucket. Since you get data into your Flux script using “from”, it only makes sense that you export it using “to”:

from(bucket: "PlantBuddy")
  |> range(start: -5m)
  |> filter(fn: (r) => r._field == "soilMoisture")
  |> mean()
  |> rename(columns: {_stop: "_time"})
  |> to(bucket:"PlantBuddyCompressed", org:"[email protected]")

When I submit this query, I get “No Results” because I sent all the data to the other bucket.

Since I only ran the task once, I know that there will only be a single row in the bucket. If I look at PlantBuddyCompressed, I can see that the single row is there.

Creating a task from the query

So now that I have a Flux query that is working well, how do I run it every five minutes? That’s exactly what tasks are for. The Save As button in the top right will let me convert the query into a task.

I just need to fill in a name for the task, and how often to run (in this case every 5 minutes).

After completing the form, the task is created and I am taken to the task page automatically.

If I hover over the row, I can see some different ways I can interact with the task. For example, I can run the task manually, and then review the logs.

If I wait five minutes, I can see that the task has run again.

Create a dashboard

So, this is really great that I am running my task periodically and reliably. But what I would really like is a dashboard so that I can see at a glance how my plant is doing. To get started, I will go back to the Data Explorer so I can start working on a new query.

This time, I am interested in my new bucket, PlantBuddyCompressed, so I will select the soilMoisture Readings from there.

So, I can see my data, but the default view is not really perfect for my dashboard. I really want it to refresh automatically, and I want to see where the values are between the full possible range of 0 to 1000. In order to implement these, I will simply click the gear icon at the top right, and configure the chart the way I want, as well as set it to refresh every 60s.

Now, I want to export all of this to a dashboard. Once again, the Save As button at the top right will allow me to do this.

Because there are no existing dashboards, I need to use the dropdown to choose to create a new one. I fill in the form and save.

Now if I navigate to Dashboards in the left-hand nav, I can see my new Dashboard is created. And if I click on it, it looks like nothing is working.

That’s only because the global scope at the top of the dashboard is set to 5 minutes. If I change it to 24 hours, it works.

I want to add something else to the dashboard: the current soil moisture level. This I will grab from the uncompressed bucket. Since it’s a single number, I can use a gauge to visualize it.

I’ll change the range of gauge to be 0 to 1000.

Then I will use the Save As button to create another dashboard cell. Now I have both cells on my dashboard, and I can keep a good eye on my plant!

Building an app on InfluxDB

Now I am taking that concept a step further and writing the app for This app will allow users to visualize and create alerts from their uploaded Plant Buddy device data in a custom user experience.

This tutorial is written very much with the application developer in mind. I happen to be using Python and Flask for this tutorial, but all of the concepts should apply equally to any language or web development framework.

This tutorial will cover:

  1. How to bootstrap your development environment to get developing on InfluxDB Cloud
  2. How to use the InfluxDB Python Client library to receive data from your users, and write that data to InfluxDB Cloud
  3. How to query InfluxDB Cloud so that your app can visualize the data for your users.
  4. How to install a downsampling task in InfluxDB that will both save you money in storage costs as well as optimize the user experience for your users
  5. How to use InfluxDB Cloud’s powerful “Checks and Notifications” system to help you provide custom alerting to your users

This tutorial is meant to focus on InfluxDB, not IoT applications in general, so I will not be focused on things like:

  1. Creating your device and sending data from it
  2. User authorization for your own web app
  3. Managing secrets in your own web app
  4. How to use the many powerful visualization libraries for the different platforms

Where’s the code?

The code for this tutorial is available on GitHub. There are two branches:

  1. If you want to see just the starting point, that is in the demo-start branch.
  2. If you want to see the completed project, that is in the demo-done branch. Overview

Data segmentation strategies

Before we start off bootstrapping the development environment, here is a bit of food for thought regarding if and how to segment your user data. This section is fairly conceptual, so you can feel free to skip it.

Most likely, your application will have many users. You will generally want to only display to each user the data that they wrote into the application. Depending on the scale of your application and other needs, there are 3 general approaches to consider.

  1. Single Multi-User Bucket. This is the default approach. In this approach, you put all of your users’ data into a single bucket in InfluxDB and you use a different tag for each user to enable fast querying.
  2. Bucket per User. In this approach you create a separate bucket for each user. This approach is more complex to manage in your app, but allows you to provide read and write tokens to your users so that they can read and write directly from their own bucket if needed for your application.
  3. Multi-Org. In this approach, you create a separate organization for each user. This provides the ultimate separation of customer data, but is more complex to set up and manage. This approach is useful when you are acting as a sort of OEM, where your customers have their own customers and you need to provide management tools to your customers.
Approach Pros Cons Summary
Multi-user Bucket
  • Easy to aggregate across customers
  • Easiest to set up
  • Requires authentication through custom gateway
  • Effort to offboard customers
  • One retention policy for all customers
Default approach, using tags to segment customers in a single bucket
Bucket per User
  • Reads and writes with no gateway
  • Multiple RP
  • Easy to offboard customers
  • Harder to aggregate across customers
  • Effort to manage
Useful when segmenting customer data is important, but more effort. Allows direct reads and writes.
  • Full data and compute segmentation
  • Extra layer of complexity
Ultimate in customer data segmentation. Useful when your customers have their own customers.

Due to the relatively simple and low-sensitivity nature of Plant Buddy, the default approach of Multi-user Bucket makes the most sense. Plant Buddy has a fairly simple schema. But if you are interested in learning more about these topics, you can read up on data layout and schema design here.

IoT application and InfluxDB Cloud architecture overview

Zooming way out, Plant Buddy will work more or less like this:

Plant-Buddy-+-Influx-Architecture-Diagram 09.23.2022v1

At the top level is the user experience. They will be able to view the sensor readings in their web browser, and each user can have any number of Plant Buddies reporting data.

The Plant Buddy application itself is roughly divided into two parts: what I call the “Write Gateway” and the “Read Gateway.” These “gateways” are, in fact, simply endpoints in the Plant Buddy Flask application, as you will see, but they could easily be divided into their own applications.

User authentication for reads and writes between the user and their devices are handled by Plant Buddy itself. Each device and each browser request should be authorized by Plant Buddy.

Finally there is the backend, which is InfluxDB. The read gateway and the write gateway write to the same bucket (to start, more on that later when we introduce downsampling). We will also be taking advantage of InfluxDB’s task system and the provided _tasks and _monitoring system buckets.

Authentication between the Plant Buddy code and the InfluxDB backend is managed by InfluxDB tokens, which are stored as secrets in the web app.

Plant Buddy starter code

To start out, Plant Buddy is able to receive information from a user’s device, but can only parse the data that is sent and print it out. Writing to InfluxDB is not yet implemented.

@app.route("/write", methods = ['POST'])
def write():
   user = users.authorize_and_get_user(request)
   d = parse_line("UTF-8"), user["user_name"])
   print(d, flush=True)
   return {'result': "OK"}, 200

def parse_line(line, user_name):
   data = {"device" : line[:2],
           "sensor_name" : sensor_names.get(line[2:4], "unknown"),
           "value" : line[4:],
           "user": user_name}
   return data

Likewise, there is an html template set up that contains a slot for rendering a graph, but so far only prints the user name extracted from the request object.

def index():
   user = users.authorize_and_get_user(request)

   return render_template("home.html",
                           user_name = user["user_name"],
                           graph_code = "<i>put graph here</i>"

You can see it all put together in VSCode:

Plant Buddy-VSCode

You can see the full starter code here. Essentially, the web application is set up with:

  1. A user's module for validating users and extracting the user name (this is fake).
  2. A secrets store module to securely store secrets for InfluxDB (also fake).
  3. An endpoint for accepting data from the Plant Buddy devices.
  4. An html template for the Flask server to render
  5. An endpoint for rendering that html template

As you can see, I am running the application on my local host, within a Docker container to simplify development.

Bootstrapping IoT application development for InfluxDB Cloud

Now that we have all of that introductory material out of the way, it’s time to get set up to use InfluxDB!


  1. Set up an InfluxDB Cloud account. A free account is fine.
  2. Set up VSCode.
  3. Download and install the Influx CLI.

Set up the InfluxDB CLI

I have an empty Cloud account, and I have the CLI installed on my developer laptop. It is possible to use the CLI right out of the gate, but I find it a hassle to constantly supply the information like the region I am targeting, my organization name, etc… So, it is much easier to set up a config for the CLI. In fact, you can set up numerous configs and easily switch between them, but for now, I will only need one.

The Influx CLI has a good help system, so I will just ask how to create one:

$ influx config create -h
	The influx config create command creates a new InfluxDB connection configuration
	and stores it in the configs file (by default, stored at ~/.influxdbv2/configs).

		# create a config and set it active
		influx config create -a -n $CFG_NAME -u $HOST_URL -t $TOKEN -o $ORG_NAME

This tells me that I will need to supply a token, the org name, the host url, as well as to name the config.

First, I will need to navigate to the InfluxDB UI to generate my first token. I do this by using the lefthand Nav in the UI to go to Data -> Tokens.

Load Data - Tokens

Then click Generate Token and choose an All Access Token, and provide it a name.

Generate All Access Token

Then I can grab the token string by clicking on the token in the list:


If I forgot my organization name, I can grab it from the About page.

create the profile

Let’s stick it all into the CLI and create the profile:

$ influx config create -t cgIsJ7uamKESRiDkRz2mNPScXw_K_zswiOfdZmIQMina1TCtWk2NGu3VssF7cJPPf-QR88nPdFFrlC9GleTpwQ== -o [email protected] -u -n plantbuddy -a

Produces the following output:

Active  Name            URL                                             Org
*       plantbuddy   [email protected]

We now have a plantbuddy CLI config created.

Create a bucket to hold users’ data

Next step is to create a bucket in InfluxDB to hold the users’ data. This is done with the bucket create command:

$ influx bucket create -n plantbuddy

Which produces the following output:

ID                      Name            Retention       Shard group duration    Organization ID
f8fbced4b964c6a4        plantbuddy      720h0m0s        n/a                     f1d35b5f11f06a1d

This created a bucket for me with the default maximum retention period, the duration the bucket retains data for.

Upload some Line Protocol

Now that I have a bucket, I can upload some data to it so that I can start testing right away, rather than working on writing data from my Python code first. I generated 2 days of sample data.

The line protocol format is well-documented. But here is an excerpt:

light,user=rick,device_id=01 reading=26i 1621978469468115968
soil_moisture,user=rick,device_id=01 reading=144i 1621978469468115968
humidity,user=rick,device_id=01 reading=68i 1621978469468115968
soil_temp,user=rick,device_id=01 reading=67i 1621978469468115968
air_temp,user=rick,device_id=01 reading=72i 1621978469468115968
light,user=rick,device_id=01 reading=28i 1621978529468115968
soil_moisture,user=rick,device_id=01 reading=140i 1621978529468115968
humidity,user=rick,device_id=01 reading=65i 1621978529468115968
soil_temp,user=rick,device_id=01 reading=67i 1621978529468115968
air_temp,user=rick,device_id=01 reading=72i 1621978529468115968

This shows that I am reporting 5 measurements: light, soil_moisture, humidity, soil_temp, and air_temp. For each point, there is a user tag and a device id tag. Note that this solution will only work when users are expected to have a limited number of devices. Otherwise, the combination of tag values could end up blowing out your cardinality. The field name is “reading” which has an integer value. Using a quick and dirty Python script, I’ve generated one of these measurements per minute for the last 48 hours, so it’s a long-ish file.

$ influx write -b plantbuddy -f ~/generated.lp

No error was reported, so it looks like it worked, but let’s run a query to make sure.

Run a query

I can run a test query with the influx query command from the CLI like this:

$ influx query "from(bucket: \"plantbuddy\") |> range(start: 0)

This produces a lot of output, so I know that uploading the line protocol worked, but I can refine the query to get some tighter output.

$ influx query "from(bucket: \"plantbuddy\") |> range(start: 0) |> last() |> keep(columns: [\"_time\",\"_measurement\",\"_value\"]) |> group()"

This query has the following output:

Result: _result
Table: keys: []
                    _time:time                  _value:float     _measurement:string  
------------------------------  ----------------------------  ----------------------  
2021-05-27T16:00:22.881946112Z                            70                air_temp  
2021-05-27T16:00:22.881946112Z                            69                humidity  
2021-05-27T16:00:22.881946112Z                            36                   light  
2021-05-27T16:00:22.881946112Z                           173           soil_moisture  
2021-05-27T16:00:22.881946112Z                            66               soil_temp

So, I already have data and can start exploring it with queries, but iterating on a query via the CLI is not particularly easy. So, let’s install and set up the InfluxDB VSCode plugin.

Set up VSCode and the Flux extension for InfluxDB Cloud

As a VSCode user, I naturally would like to use their editor when writing my Flux queries, as well keep my whole project under source control. So, the next step is to set up the InfluxDB VSCode Extension. The Flux extension is easy to find by searching for “Influx” in the extension manager.

After installing the extension, you can see an InfluxDB window added to the bottom left.

VSCode and the Flux extension for InfluxDB Cloud

Now I can use that window to set up a connection with my Cloud account by giving focus to the InfluxDB window and clicking the + button.

If I forgot any information that I need to configure the Flux extension, I can use the influx config command to my credentials:

$ influx config
Active  Name            URL                                             Org
*       plantbuddy   [email protected]

I can find my token strings with the influx auth list command like this:

$ influx auth list

Because my org name has some special characters, I need to provide my organization id instead of my org name. I can find the org id  with the influx org list command like this:

$ influx org list
ID                      Name
f1d35b5f11f06a1d        [email protected]

And then complete the form.

Complete the form

Using the Test button, I can see that the connection worked, and then save it. After I save, notice that the InfluxDB window is now populated, and I can browse the measurements.

InfluxDB window populated

Query InfluxDB Cloud from the Code Editor

Now that the connection is set up, I typically add a scratch Flux file to the project to run Flux queries with.

The first thing to notice is that formatting works. The Flux extension also includes statement completion and in situ help as you would expect.

Then I can try to run the query directly from the editor.


This provides my results in a clean grid view, which is easier to use than results dumped to the terminal.

grid view results

Note that information about the extension is written to the Flux language tab of the OUTPUT window. This is especially useful if your Flux has errors.

Output Window

Now that I have my development environment set up for InfluxDB, let’s implement the backend.

Implement writes

Now it’s back to writing some Python to make the web app work. First I am going to handle the calls to the /write endpoint by converting those calls to actually put the data into InfluxDB.

  1. I already have a bucket called “plantbuddy” created for this.
  2. Next I will create a new token that has permission to read and write to that bucket.
  3. Then I will import the InfluxDB v2 Python client library.
  4. Then I will create Points and write them with the client library.

Create a token

First, I will need a token that has permissions to write and read from the bucket. You can see from the influx auth create help, that there are a lot of options for controlling the permissions for a token.

k$ influx auth create -h
Create authorization

  influx auth create [flags]

  -c, --active-config string          Config name to use for command; Maps to env var $INFLUX_ACTIVE_CONFIG
      --configs-path string           Path to the influx CLI configurations; Maps to env var $INFLUX_CONFIGS_PATH (default "/Users/rick/.influxdbv2/configs")
  -d, --description string            Token description
  -h, --help                          Help for the create command 
      --hide-headers                  Hide the table headers; defaults false; Maps to env var $INFLUX_HIDE_HEADERS
      --host string                   HTTP address of InfluxDB; Maps to env var $INFLUX_HOST
      --json                          Output data as json; defaults false; Maps to env var $INFLUX_OUTPUT_JSON
  -o, --org string                    The name of the organization; Maps to env var $INFLUX_ORG
      --org-id string                 The ID of the organization; Maps to env var $INFLUX_ORG_ID
      --read-bucket stringArray       The bucket id
      --read-buckets                  Grants the permission to perform read actions against organization buckets
      --read-checks                   Grants the permission to read checks
      --read-dashboards               Grants the permission to read dashboards
      --read-dbrps                    Grants the permission to read database retention policy mappings
      --read-notificationEndpoints    Grants the permission to read notificationEndpoints
      --read-notificationRules        Grants the permission to read notificationRules
      --read-orgs                     Grants the permission to read organizations
      --read-tasks                    Grants the permission to read tasks
      --read-telegrafs                Grants the permission to read telegraf configs
      --read-user                     Grants the permission to perform read actions against organization users
      --skip-verify                   Skip TLS certificate chain and host name verification.
  -t, --token string                  Authentication token; Maps to env var $INFLUX_TOKEN
  -u, --user string                   The user name
      --write-bucket stringArray      The bucket id
      --write-buckets                 Grants the permission to perform mutative actions against organization buckets
      --write-checks                  Grants the permission to create checks
      --write-dashboards              Grants the permission to create dashboards
      --write-dbrps                   Grants the permission to create database retention policy mappings
      --write-notificationEndpoints   Grants the permission to create notificationEndpoints
      --write-notificationRules       Grants the permission to create notificationRules
      --write-orgs                    Grants the permission to create organizations
      --write-tasks                   Grants the permission to create tasks
      --write-telegrafs               Grants the permission to create telegraf configs
      --write-user                    Grants the permission to perform mutative actions against organization users

--write-bucket and --read-bucket are the options I am looking for. These options take the bucket id rather than the bucket name. The id is easy to find with the influx bucket list command:

$ influx bucket list
ID                      Name            Retention       Shard group duration    Organization ID
d6ec11a304c652aa        _monitoring     168h0m0s        n/a                     f1d35b5f11f06a1d
fe25b83e9e002181        _tasks          72h0m0s         n/a                     f1d35b5f11f06a1d
f8fbced4b964c6a4        plantbuddy      720h0m0s        n/a                     f1d35b5f11f06a1d

Then I can create the token with the influx auth create command like this:

$ influx auth create --write-bucket f8fbced4b964c6a4 --read-bucket f8fbced4b964c6a4

The output includes the token string which I can then register with my app server’s secrets store.

ID                      Description     Token                                                                                           User Name                       User ID                 Permissions
0797c045bc99e000                        d0QnHz8bTrQU2XI798YKQzmMQY36HuDPRWiCwi8Lppo1U4Ej5IKhCC-rTgeRBs3MgWsomr-YXBbDO3o4BLJe9g==        [email protected]  078bedcd5c762000        [read:orgs/f1d35b5f11f06a1d/buckets/f8fbced4b964c6a4 write:orgs/f1d35b5f11f06a1d/buckets/f8fbced4b964c6a4]

Import and set up the InfluxDB Python Library

After installing the InfluxDB Python Client in your environment, the next steps are to:

  1. Import the library.
  2. Set up the client.
  3. Create the write and query APIs.
import influxdb_client

client = influxdb_client.InfluxDBClient(
   url = "",
   token = secret_store.get_bucket_secret(),
   org = "f1d35b5f11f06a1d"

write_api = client.write_api()
query_api = client.query_api()

I added this code at the top of my code file so I can use the write and query APIs easily throughout the module.

Create and write Points

Now that I have the client library and the related API’s set up, I can change my code from simply printing out the data that the user is uploading to actually saving it. The first part is to create a Point, which is an Object that represents the data I want to write.

I’ll do this by creating a new function “write_to_influx”:

def write_to_influx(data):
   p = influxdb_client.Point(data["sensor_name"]).tag("user",data["user"]).tag("device_id",data["device"]).field("reading", int(data["value"]))
   write_api.write(bucket="plantbuddy", org="f1d35b5f11f06a1d", record=p)
   print(p, flush=True)

The method receives a Python dictionary, and extracts the values to use for tags and the field. You can include multiple tags and fields in a Point, but Plant Buddy only uses a single field, “reading.” It also prints out the point at the end of the function, mostly so it is possible to see it working.

Now I can update my write endpoint to use that function:

@app.route("/write", methods = ['POST'])
def write():
   user = users.authorize_and_get_user(request)
   d = parse_line("UTF-8"), user["user_name"])
   return {'result': "OK"}, 200

I happen to have a Plant Buddy already writing points to the server, and it looks like it is working.

Plant Buddy writing points to the server

By running a simple query, I can confirm that the data is being loaded into my bucket.

data is being loaded into bucket

Implement reads

The Plant Buddy webpage will be very simple to start. It will display a graph with the last 48 hours of Plant Buddy data. To make this work, I need to:

  1. Write a query that fetches the data
  2. Use the InfluxDB v2 Python client library to fetch the data
  3. Create a graph
  4. Loop through the results and add them to the graph
  5. Display the graph in the web page

Write the query

This is a simple query to write.

from(bucket: "plantbuddy")
   |> range(start: -48h)
   |> filter(fn: (r) => r.user == "rick")

This brings back a lot of data. What is important to understand is that the data comes back organized by time series. A time series is organized first by measurements, and then further broken down by tag values and fields. Each time series is then essentially a separate table of related data ordered by timestamp. Perfect for graphing, each time series table is a line in a graph.

However, I won’t know the user name at run time, so I need to parameterize the query. I am going to use simple string replacement for this. So, I just need to tweak the query a bit:

from(bucket: "plantbuddy")
   |> range(start: -48h)
   |> filter(fn: (r) => r.user == "{}")

Additionally, I am going to want to read this query at run time, so I added a file called “graph.flux” and saved the query in that file.

Now that I have the query ready, I can use it to fetch the data.

Fetch the data from InfluxDB

In my index() function in, I start by opening the Flux file, replacing the user name, and then using the query api that I previously instantiated to get back a results set, adding this to my index() function:

query = open("graph.flux").read().format(user["user_name"])
   result = query_api.query(query, org="f1d35b5f11f06a1d")

Visualize time series with mpld3 and InfluxDB Cloud

For Plant Buddy, I have selected the mpld3 library to create my graphs. I chose this library because it is very easy to use.

After adding the mpld3 library and its dependencies to my environment, I need to import a couple of things:

import matplotlib.pyplot as plt, mpld3

Now I can go ahead and build the graph with the results. To do this, for each measurement (light, humidity, etc.) I need to create a list of values for the x-axis, and a list of values for the y-axis. Of course, the x-axis will be time.

As mentioned above, the Flux data model returns data in a perfect format for this application. It returns a table for each measurement, so I simply have to loop through the tables, then loop through each record in each table, build the lists, and ask matplotlib to plot them.

fig = plt.figure()
   for table in result:
       x_vals = []
       y_vals = []
       label = ""
       for record in table:
           label = record["_measurement"]
       plt.plot(x_vals, y_vals, label=label)

Then I finish off by requesting a legend, converting the graph to html, and passing it to the template to be rendered.

   grph = mpld3.fig_to_html(fig)
   return render_template("home.html",
                           user_name = user["user_name"],
                           graph_code = grph)

And now, when I load the index page, you can see that the graph is working.

index page with the graph

Aggregation and downsampling


One thing to note is that it takes matplotlib a fair amount of time to create the graph, and a fair amount of time for the mpld3 to convert it to html. But users don’t really need every point graphed. Therefore, we can speed up the UI by adding a bit of aggregation to the Flux query. Rather than retrieving every point, let’s retrieve just the average for every 10 minutes. I just add an aggregation to the query with the aggregateWindow() function:

from(bucket: "plantbuddy")
   |> range(start: -48h)
   |> filter(fn: (r) => r.user == "rick")
   |> aggregateWindow(every: 10m, fn: mean)

The page loads much faster now, and also the graph looks a bit nicer.

nicer graph

Realistically, for such a simple query and data set, such a query will perform more than adequately for production use cases. However, we can demonstrate how to optimize UI latency further by downsampling.


Downsampling entails calculating lower-resolution data to display from the high-resolution data, and saving that off pre-computed for displaying or further calculations. Other than making for a snappier user experience, it can also save you storage costs, because you can keep your downsampled data in a bucket with a longer retention period than your raw data.

To accomplish this, I need to:

  1. Create a new downsampling bucket and a new token that can read and write that bucket
  2. Create a downsampling Flux script
  3. Create a task to periodically run that script
  4. Change the flux in graph.flux to query the downsampled bucket

Create a new bucket and token

First I’ll create a new bucket as before and name it “downsampled.”

$ influx bucket create -n downsampled

The output kindly gives me the bucket id:

ID                      Name            Retention       Shard group duration    Organization ID
c7b43676728de98d        downsampled     720h0m0s        n/a                     f1d35b5f11f06a1d

However, for simplicity, I will create a single token that can read and write both buckets. First, list the buckets to get the bucket ids:

$ influx bucket list
ID                      Name            Retention       Shard group duration    Organization ID
d6ec11a304c652aa        _monitoring     168h0m0s        n/a                     f1d35b5f11f06a1d
fe25b83e9e002181        _tasks          72h0m0s         n/a                     f1d35b5f11f06a1d
c7b43676728de98d        downsampled     720h0m0s        n/a                     f1d35b5f11f06a1d
f8fbced4b964c6a4        plantbuddy      720h0m0s        n/a                     f1d35b5f11f06a1d

Then create the token with read and write permissions for both buckets:

$ influx auth create --write-bucket c7b43676728de98d --write-bucket f8fbced4b964c6a4 --read-bucket c7b43676728de98d --read-bucket f8fbced4b964c6a4
ID                      Description     Token                                                                                           User Name                       User ID                 Permissions
079820bd8b7c1000                        hf356pobXyeoeqpIIt6t-ge7LI-UtcBBElq8Igf1K1wxm5Sv9XK8BleS79co32gCQwQ1voXuwXu1vEZg-sYDRg==        [email protected]  078bedcd5c762000        [read:orgs/f1d35b5f11f06a1d/buckets/c7b43676728de98d read:orgs/f1d35b5f11f06a1d/buckets/f8fbced4b964c6a4 write:orgs/f1d35b5f11f06a1d/buckets/c7b43676728de98d write:orgs/f1d35b5f11f06a1d/buckets/f8fbced4b964c6a4]

Then grab that new token and replace the old token in my app’s secrets store. Restart and make sure everything is still working.

Create a downsampling Flux script

A downsampling script has two basic steps. First, do some aggregations, and second, write the aggregated data somewhere.

I have already figured out the aggregation that I want to do from creating the new graph.flux file. I will add a “downsample.flux” file using the existing aggregation as a starting point. One key difference is that I want to downsample ALL the data, not just the data for a particular user. As such, my aggregation step will skip the filter:

from(bucket: "plantbuddy")
   |> range(start: -48h)
   |> aggregateWindow(every: 10m, fn: mean)

Running this, I can see that this will aggregate all of the data in the bucket.

aggregate all of the data in the bucket

Now I just need to add the to() function to write all of the downsampled data to my downsampled bucket:

from(bucket: "plantbuddy")
   |> range(start: -48h)
   |> aggregateWindow(every: 10m, fn: mean)
   |> to(bucket: "downsampled")

Querying the downsampled bucket, I can see all the data is there.

Querying the downsampled bucket

I have downsampled all of the existing data, so next I will set up a task so that as data flows in, that will be downsampled as well.

Create a downsampling task from the Flux script

This is a simple matter of taking my downsample.flux script, and registering it as a task to run every 10 minutes.

The first step is to change the range to only look back for the last 10 minutes. I don’t want to constantly re-downsample data I’ve already downsampled.

from(bucket: "plantbuddy")
   |> range(start: -10m)
   |> aggregateWindow(every: 10m, fn: mean)
   |> to(bucket: "downsampled")

Next, I need to add an option that every task needs. There are different fields available, but all I need is a name and “every” which tells the task system how often to run the Flux.

Now my full downsample.flux looks like this:

option task = {
   name: "downsampled",
   every: 10m
from(bucket: "plantbuddy")
   |> range(start: -10m)
   |> aggregateWindow(every: 10m, fn: mean)
   |> to(bucket: "downsampled")

Now I just need to register it with InfluxDB Cloud. This is a simple matter of using task create with the CLI:

$ influx task create -f downsample.flux 
ID                      Name            Organization ID         Organization                    Status  Every   Cron
079824d7a391b000        downsampled     f1d35b5f11f06a1d        [email protected]  active  10m

Since the output provides me with the task id, I can use that to keep an eye on the task:

$ influx task log list --task-id 079824d7a391b000

And I can see that it ran successfully, along with some other useful information, such as what Flux was actually run.

RunID                   Time                            Message
079825437a264000        2021-05-28T01:30:00.099978246Z  Started task from script: "option task = {\n    name: \"downsampled\",\n    every: 10m\n}\nfrom(bucket: \"plantbuddy\") \n    |> range(start: -10m)\n    |> aggregateWindow(every: 10m, fn: mean) \n    |> to(bucket: \"downsampled\")"
079825437a264000        2021-05-28T01:30:00.430597345Z  trace_id=0adc0ed1a407fd7a is_sampled=true
079825437a264000        2021-05-28T01:30:00.466570704Z  Completed(success)

Update the graph query

Finally, I can update the query powering the graph to read from the downsampled bucket. This is a much simpler and faster query.

from(bucket: "downsampled")
   |> range(start: -48h)
   |> filter(fn: (r) => r.user == "{}" )

Restart everything, and it’s all working fast!

graph after restart


The final feature we will add is the ability for to notify users if their soil gets too dry. With InfluxDB you can use tasks to create status checks and notification rules that will send a message to your application under whatever conditions you define. You should not add polling logic to your application to read a status; you should let InfluxDB do this for you!

While there are simpler ways to implement this functionality using a single task, for example by doing a simple query and then just using directly in the same task, will take full advantage of the whole Checks and Notifications System. The extra benefits particularly include records of the statuses and notifications stored in the _monitoring bucket. Additionally, since this data is stored in the standard format, tools such as dashboards and queries can be easily shared.

Threshold Check

The first kind of task I want to set up is a Threshold Check. This is a task that:

  1. Queries the data for values of interest
  2. Checks if those values exceed certain thresholds
  3. Uses the Flux monitor library to write time series data to the _monitoring bucket
  4. Create a task from the Flux script and start it running

Query for the value you want to check

Plant Buddy will be able to provide a notification to any user if their soil moisture level becomes too dry. I will create the related Flux query (soon to be a task) in a new file, check.flux. A simple query can look back in time and find all (and only) the soil moisture levels:

data = from(bucket: "plantbuddy")
   |> range(start: -10m)
   |> filter(fn: (r) => r._measurement == "soil_moisture")

Notice I am querying the raw data in the plantbuddy bucket, rather than the downsampled data.

Define thresholds for the Value

Next I need to determine the different thresholds to watch for. The Checks system will use those thresholds to set the status for each row of data. There are 4 possible levels for a Threshold Check:

  • ok
  • Info
  • warn
  • crit

Set the threshold by creating a predicate function for each that returns a bool defining whether the value is within that threshold. You do not need to use all the levels in your threshold check. For Plant Buddy, soil moisture can be either “ok” or “crit” so I just define these two functions:

ok = (r) => r.reading > 35
crit = (r) => r.reading <= 35

Basically, if the soil moisture reading falls to 35 or below, it’s critical.

As mentioned above, the  resulting status will be written to the _monitoring bucket. You also need to supply a predicate function to create a message that gets logged. This message can be complex or simple. I am keeping it simple:

messageFn = (r) => "soil moisture at ${string(v:r.reading)} for ${r.user}"

These predicate functions are parameters for the monitor.check() function which generates the statuses and writes them to the _monitoring bucket, which we’ll use below.

Generate the status for each record with the monitoring.check() function

The monitoring package has a function called monitoring.check() that now does the work of calculating and recording the statuses for you. It will go through each record in the data that was returned, calculate the status level (ok or crit in this case), calculate the message string, and then record that in the _monitoring bucket for you along with some other information.

First, though, we need to supply some metadata to monitor.check. An id, name, type, and a list of tags is required. Tags are useful when you have multiple notification rules. Since currently, I am only planning one, I will leave the tags object empty.

check = {_check_id: "check1xxxxxxxxxx",
       _check_name: "soil moisture check",
       _type: "threshold",
       tags: {}

Now my script can go ahead and call monitor.check. A couple of things to note:

  1. Pipe forwarding through schema.fieldsAsCols() function is required. That is the shape that monitor.check function expects. It also helps make some checks easier to write because you can more easily write expressions that combine values from different fields.
  2. It’s a little confusing because the check metadata parameter is named “data”. I call the option for this “check” and I call the time series data that I retrieved “data”. That is just more clear to my mind.
  3. I added a yield() in order to make it easier for me to run the script and check the results.
   |> v1["fieldsAsCols"]()
   |> yield()
   |> monitor.check(data: check, messageFn: messageFn, crit: crit, ok: ok)

It’s simpler to see how it works when you have it all in one place:

import "influxdata/influxdb/monitor"
import "influxdata/influxdb/v1"

option task = {name: "soil moisture check", every: 10m, offset: 0s}

data = from(bucket: "plantbuddy")
   |> range(start: -10m)
   |> filter(fn: (r) => r._measurement == "soil_moisture")

ok = (r) => r.reading > 35
crit = (r) => r.reading <= 35

messageFn = (r) => "soil moisture at ${string(v:r.reading)} for ${r.user}"

check = {_check_id: "check1xxxxxxxxxx",
       _check_name: "soil moisture check",
       _type: "threshold",
       tags: {}

   |> v1["fieldsAsCols"]()
   |> yield()
   |> monitor.check(data: check, messageFn: messageFn, crit: crit, ok: ok)

Now I can manually run my check. As expected, it created a _level of “ok” for every reading in the last 10 minutes.

running check

I can go a little deeper and query the _monitoring bucket directly:

from(bucket: "_monitoring")
   |> range(start: -5m)
   |> filter(fn: (r) => r._field == "_message")


Everything looks good, so next, I will set up InfluxDB to run the code in check.flux on a schedule.

Create the Threshold Check task

I already added options to make the script into a task:

option task = {name: "soil moisture check", every: 10m, offset: 0s}

So, now I can just create the task with the check.flux file:

$ influx task create -f check.flux 
ID                      Name                    Organization ID         Organization                    Status  Every   Cron
0798ba98b30d5000        soil moisture check     f1d35b5f11f06a1d        [email protected]  active  10m

Now I have a task running every 10 minutes that is recording a status, so next I need to write a notification rule, which is another task that will call an endpoint on Plant Buddy, so Plant Buddy can notify the user.

Notification Rule

In order to write this task, I need to accomplish a few things:

  1. Add a secret to InfluxDB so Plant Buddy can authorize any communication back from InfluxDB Cloud
  2. Add an endpoint to to get called when the notification rule’s conditions are met
  3. Create an endpoint variable in Flux that points to a publicly accessible url (I punched a hole through my firewall so that my development server is accessible from InfluxDB Cloud)
  4. Use the monitoring library to search for any statuses that I want to notify users about (specifically if the _level is crit)
  5. Call the endpoint for every record that matches that condition, sending along the message created by the check

Store and use the secret in InfluxDB Cloud

First I want to store the token that Plant Buddy will use to verify that any incoming requests are coming from InfluxDB. I could simply add this to the Flux script, but it is much more secure to use the platform’s secret store than to keep them in source code.

$ influx secret update -k pb_secret -v sqps8LCY6z8XuZ2k
Key             Organization ID
pb_secret       f1d35b5f11f06a1d

Then I can retrieve the secret with this code. I created a new file called notifation_rule.flux to store this Flux. This is all that is involved in retrieving the secret as a string:

import "influxdata/influxdb/secrets"

secrets.get(key: "pb_secret")

Add an endpoint to Plant Buddy

Actually notifying the user in some way is not yet implemented, so, I will simply add this code to so I can make sure that the system is working end to end:

@app.route("/notify", methods = ['POST'])
def notify():
   print("notification received", flush=True)
   print(, flush=True)
   return {'result': "OK"}, 200
   # TODO: check the authorization and actually notify the user

Add the endpoint to Flux

Now I can reference that endpoint in my Flux:

endpoint = http.endpoint(url: "")

You may notice that I have not yet supplied headers or a body. Because I want the body to be the message stored with the status for each status, I will dynamically add the header and body when the endpoint is actually called.

Find matching statuses

This code uses the convenience functions built into the monitor library to look back 2 minutes, and find any statuses that are set to crit:

monitor.from(start: -2m)
   |> filter(fn: (r) => r._level == "crit")

In the next steps, I will actually fire and record any matching notifications.

Set up the Notification Rule task

Just like a status check, the monitor library in Flux requires metadata in a certain format in order for the notify function to work. I define that in this object:

rule = {
   _notification_rule_id: "notif-rule01xxxx",
   _notification_rule_name: "soil moisture crit",
   _notification_endpoint_id: "1234567890123456",
   _notification_endpoint_name: "soil moisture crit",


I can now finish the job and call the monitor.notify() function. I just need to supply:

  1. The metadata I defined for the notification. This is used when a notification is fired to record in InfluxDB that the notification event occurred (and whether or not the notification was sent successfully).
  2. Supply a map() function that returns the headers and data I want to send via to the endpoint I defined.
monitor.from(start: -2m)
   |> filter(fn: (r) => r._level == "crit")
   |> monitor.notify(
       data: rule,
       endpoint: endpoint(
           mapFn: (r) => ({
               headers: {"Authorization":secrets.get(key: "pb_secret")},
               data: bytes(v: r._message),
   |> yield(name: "monitor.notify")

When I run this, there are no results.

no results

This is because there are no crit statuses. However, I can synthetically create a crit status to yield results:

$ influx write --bucket plantbuddy "soil_moisture,user=rick,device_id=01 reading=20i"

Then I can re-run check.flux and notifcation_rule.flux, and see that my application received the notification, and InfluxDB recorded the notification as sent.

full contents of notification_rule

Once again, I think it is easier to see how it all works together when you see the full contents of notification_rule.flux:

import "influxdata/influxdb/monitor"
import "influxdata/influxdb/secrets"
import "http"

option task = {
   name: "SM Notification Rule",
   every: 1m,
   offset: 0s,

rule = {
   _notification_rule_id: "notif-rule01xxxx",
   _notification_rule_name: "soil moisture crit",
   _notification_endpoint_id: "1234567890123456",
   _notification_endpoint_name: "soil moisture crit",
endpoint = http.endpoint(url: "")
monitor.from(start: -2m)
   |> filter(fn: (r) => r._level == "crit")
   |> monitor.notify(
       data: rule,
       endpoint: endpoint(
           mapFn: (r) => ({
               headers: {"Authorization":secrets.get(key: "pb_secret")},
               data: bytes(v: r._message),
   |> yield(name: "monitor.notify")

Create the Notification Rule Task

Finally, to finish it off, I need to register the notification rule as a task with InfluxDB. As before, I need to create an option named “task” so that the task system knows how to handle the script:

option task = {
   name: "SM Notification Rule",
   every: 1m,
   offset: 0s,

Then, I can simply create the task as before.

$ influx task create -f notification_rule.flux 
ID                      Name                    Organization ID         Organization                    Status  Every   Cron
0798c6de048d5000        SM Notification Rule    f1d35b5f11f06a1d        [email protected]  active  1m

Operational Monitoring

Regarding my InfluxDB backend, I now have:

  1. Data flowing into InfluxDB
  2. 3 tasks running: Downsampling Task, Threshold Check Task, and Notification Rule Task

How do I keep tabs on whether the backend is operating correctly? This is easy to accomplish by installing the Operational Monitoring Template into your account. Note that you will need to upgrade from a free account in order to have enough bucket quota to install the template.

After installing the template, I can, for example, use the Task Summary Dashboard to confirm that all of my tasks are running fine. I can go on to create checks and notifications that can alert me (as opposed to my users) if any problems should arise.

Task Summary Dashboard


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