I'm starting some home automation and monitoring. I'm using a mixture of commercial devices and some self build electronics.

The devices are all tied together by a series of "drivers" that speak MQTT on one end and communicate with the device on the other (or some devices can do MQTT directly). Node-red is used to manage and control the main logic.

My question is are questions about MQTT and Node-Red on topic here? I'm definitely using both to manage IoT devices.

I understand that programming issues or "how do I get node-red to do X" might be better asked on stackoverflow and electronics and firmware questions either there or on the electronics site.

But what about policy and usage questions? For example how best to name mqtt topics (I realise that one could be off topic for being too subjective but there are possibly similar more specific questions). How about questions on how best to manage devices using node-red? Not from a programming point of view, but the best way to organise things etc.

Are these on topic here? They seem to be related to controlling IoT devices, and I don't see they are a better fit elsewhere?

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Yes, they'd be on-topic here.

There are currently 38 questions in the tag (out of 405 on the site), so that's a pretty clear signal that MQTT questions are welcomed here.

We haven't yet had a question about Node-RED, but it seems pretty firmly on-topic. Since it's a tool used for home automation and IoT, I see no reason why it wouldn't be on-topic.

Your programming questions about Node-RED are probably also on-topic here, but note that you probably will get an answer faster on Stack Overflow, simply because there are more users with expertise in programming aspects there.

On to your example of "How best to name MQTT topics": definitely on-topic. In fact, there's already a question about special characters which might get you started: Should I use special characters in MQTT topics?

Be careful though—very opinion-based questions might be closed as primarily opinion-based, as you suspected, so be sure to include some objective criteria as to what would be the 'best' way.

For example, asking which format is most compatible with other MQTT brokers, or avoids a certain issue (like naming clashes) would be fine, but asking which format is the best (with no explanation) might not be. Don't let me discourage you though; we're happy to help you write a clear, specific question as long as you're willing to learn.

Good luck, and I hope to see your questions on the site soon!

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From the help center:

If you have a question about...

  • controlling, automating and sensing the environment using electronics ('smart devices'),
  • consumer technology used for home automation,
  • industrial applications of the Internet of Things, or
  • the security, privacy, reliability and safety of these devices

... and it is not about ...

  • general computer networking, software and hardware

... you're in the right place!

I'd definitely say that your question falls under the first bullet point. You're trying to control, automate or sense the environment with MQTT, right? If that's the case, you're in the right place: post away! :)

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