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MQTT Explorer: A Powerful and Easy-to-Use MQTT Client for Windows, Mac and Linux


How to Download and Use MQTT Explorer




MQTT (Message Queuing Telemetry Transport) is a lightweight, publish-subscribe based messaging protocol designed for resource-constrained devices and low-bandwidth, high-latency, or unreliable networks. It is widely used in Internet of Things (IoT) applications, providing efficient communication between sensors, actuators, and other devices.


If you are working with MQTT devices or services, you may need a tool that can help you visualize and interact with the MQTT topics and messages that are exchanged on your network. One such tool is MQTT Explorer, a comprehensive MQTT client that provides a structured overview of your MQTT topics and makes working with devices/services on your broker dead-simple.




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In this article, we will show you how to download and use MQTT Explorer to connect to an MQTT broker, manage your topics and messages, and perform various tasks such as publishing, subscribing, deleting, filtering, plotting, and comparing topics.


What is MQTT and Why You Need It




MQTT Explained




MQTT is an open OASIS standard and an ISO recommendation (ISO/IEC 20922) that defines a messaging protocol for IoT applications. It employs a publish-subscribe communication pattern, where clients do not communicate directly with each other but through a central server called a broker.


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A client can publish a message to a topic on the broker, which then distributes the message to all other clients that have subscribed to that topic. A topic is a hierarchical string that identifies the content or purpose of the message. For example, a topic could be "home/temperature" or "car/battery". A client can subscribe to multiple topics using wildcards such as "+" or "#".


MQTT supports three quality of service (QoS) levels for message delivery:


  • QoS 0: At most once delivery. The message is delivered at most once, but may be lost or duplicated.



  • QoS 1: At least once delivery. The message is delivered at least once, but may be duplicated.



  • QoS 2: Exactly once delivery. The message is delivered exactly once, without any loss or duplication.



MQTT also supports persistent sessions, which allow clients to resume their subscriptions and receive any missed messages when they reconnect to the broker.


Benefits of MQTT for IoT Applications




MQTT has several benefits for IoT applications, such as:


  • Low overhead and bandwidth consumption. The protocol uses a binary format and a minimal header to reduce the message size and network traffic.



  • Bidirectional communication. MQTT allows for messaging between device to cloud and cloud to device. This makes for easy broadcasting messages to groups of things.



  • Scalability. MQTT can scale to connect with millions of IoT devices.



  • Reliability. MQTT provides different QoS levels for reliable message delivery.



  • Support for unreliable networks. Many IoT devices connect over unreliable cellular networks. MQTT's support for persistent sessions reduces the time to reconnect the client with the broker.



What is MQTT Explorer and How It Can Help You




Features of MQTT Explorer




MQTT Explorer is a free and open source MQTT client that allows you to visualize and interact with MQTT topics and messages. It has a user-friendly interface that shows you a structured overview of your MQTT topics and their content. You can easily publish and subscribe to topics, delete and filter topics, plot and compare numeric topics, and more.


Some of the features of MQTT Explorer are:


  • Topic grouping. You can group topics by common prefixes or suffixes, making it easier to navigate the topic tree.



  • Topic history. You can see the history of messages for each topic, including their QoS, retain flag, and timestamp.



  • Topic search. You can search for topics by name or content using regular expressions or JSON queries.



  • Topic statistics. You can see the statistics of each topic, such as the message count, rate, size, and payload type.



  • Topic diffing. You can compare the differences between two messages for the same topic or different topics.



  • Topic plotting. You can plot numeric topics on a chart and compare them with other topics.



  • Topic exporting. You can export topics and messages to CSV, JSON, or XML files.



  • Topic importing. You can import topics and messages from CSV, JSON, or XML files.



  • Topic scripting. You can write scripts in JavaScript or Python to manipulate topics and messages.



  • Topic debugging. You can debug your MQTT applications using the built-in console and log viewer.



Supported Platforms and Installation Methods




MQTT Explorer is available for Windows, Linux, and macOS platforms. You can download the latest version from the official website or from GitHub. You can also install it using Homebrew on macOS or Snapcraft on Linux.


To install MQTT Explorer using Homebrew on macOS, run the following command in a terminal:


brew install --cask mqtt-explorer


To install MQTT Explorer using Snapcraft on Linux, run the following command in a terminal:


snap install mqtt-explorer


How to Connect MQTT Explorer to an MQTT Broker




Adding a New Connection




To connect MQTT Explorer to an MQTT broker, you need to add a new connection with the broker's details. To do this, follow these steps:


  • Open MQTT Explorer and click on the "+" button at the top left corner of the window.



  • A dialog box will appear where you can enter the connection name, broker URL, port number, protocol, username, password, client ID, and other options. You can also enable TLS encryption and select a certificate file if needed.



  • Click on "Save" to save the connection settings.



  • The connection will appear on the left panel of the window. Click on it to connect to the broker.



Configuring Connection Settings




You can configure various settings for your connection, such as:


  • The QoS level for publishing and subscribing to topics.



  • The retain flag for publishing messages.



  • The clean session flag for resuming subscriptions.



  • The keep alive interval for sending ping messages to the broker.



  • The reconnect interval for reconnecting to the broker after a connection loss.



  • The maximum number of messages to store in the history buffer.



To configure these settings, follow these steps:


  • Select your connection from the left panel of the window.



  • Click on the gear icon at the top right corner of the window.



  • A dialog box will appear where you can adjust the settings as per your requirements.



  • Click on "Save" to save the settings.



Navigating the Topic Tree




Once you are connected to an MQTT broker, you can see the topic tree on the right panel of the window. The topic tree shows you the hierarchical structure of the topics and their messages. You can expand or collapse the topics by clicking on the arrows next to them. You can also group topics by common prefixes or suffixes by right-clicking on them and selecting "Group by prefix" or "Group by suffix".


To see the details of a topic, such as its QoS, retain flag, timestamp, and payload, you can click on it and a new tab will open on the bottom panel of the window. You can also see the history of messages for that topic by scrolling down the tab. You can switch between different tabs by


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