Because the Internet of Things is really all about the data, to design and develop IoT apps, you need a tool that helps deal with the flow of that data.  Node-RED is an open-source, browser-based tool for wiring together all the things within IoT.

Node-RED flow

Node-RED is a visual, easy-to-use, flow-based programming environment that helps IoT developers integrate with APIs, services and most any device imaginable.  IoT developers deploy flows to a light-weight runtime.  Because Node-RED includes node.js, it can be run at the edge of the network or in the cloud. Over a thousand flows and nodes exist in the Node-RED library today, which enable connections to all kinds of devices and services.

In 2014, the creators of Node-RED, IBMers Nick O’Leary and Dave Conway-Jones, released Node-RED as an Apache v2 licensed open source project on GitHub (, continuing with their vision to make Node-RED an indispensable, open-source tool for the Internet of Things.

Recently, in 2016, IBM contributed Node-RED as a core project in the newly formed JS Foundation, which you can read about from the creators of Node-RED themselves on the Node-RED site. Or you can dive deeper into the IBM perspective from Angel Luis Diaz.

This maniacal focus on being community-driven, open-source technology has led companies like AT&T, Raspberry Pi, Intel, and many, many others to create Node-RED services, to provide nodes for their own devices, to provide Node-RED as part of the OS (Raspbian), and to install Node-RED on their devices.

You can learn how to use Node-RED yourself in just 5 minutes with this demo:

Or, if you’d rather dive right in, use the Getting Started documentation to install, run, and create your first flows.

If you’ve got 10-15 minutes, you can work through these developerWorks tutorials:

In just 6 short minutes, on developerWorks TV, you can watch this demo that shows how to connect Raspberry Pis using Node-RED and Watson IoT Platform and bring a dinosaur to life!

Now you’re ready to explore the various developerWorks recipes that use the easy to use Node-RED with all the different devices and services. For example, check out how to control a Sphero-BB8 using Watson IoT Platform and Node-RED.

Most recently, IBM published a climate control sample app to GitHub that includes IBM Watson IoT Platform, Node-RED, and device simulators to help you speed up your IoT development work.

Along the way, if you get stuck or want to ask questions about Node-RED, reach out to the experts on Node-RED on Stack Overflow and dW Answers.

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