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App Services - Triggers


Triggers determine how and Application Service's functions pipeline begins execution. The trigger is determined by the [Trigger] configuration section in the configuration.yaml file.

There are 4 types of Triggers supported in the App Functions SDK which are discussed in this document

  1. EdgeX Message Bus - Default Trigger for most use cases as this is how the App Services receive Events from EdgeX Core Data and/or Devices Services
  2. External MQTT - Useful when receiving commands from an external/Cloud MQTT broker.
  3. HTTP - Useful during development and testing of custom functions.
  4. Custom - Allows custom Application Services to implement their own Custom Trigger

EdgeX MessageBus Trigger

An EdgeX MessageBus trigger will execute the pipeline every time data is received from the configured Edgex MessageBus SubscribeTopics. The EdgeX MessageBus is the central message bus internal to EdgeX and has a specific message envelope that wraps all data published to this message bus.

There currently are four implementations of the EdgeX MessageBus available to be used. Two of these are available out of the box: Redis Pub/Sub(default) and MQTT. Additionally NATS (both core and JetStream) options can be made available with the build flag mentioned above. The implementation type is selected via the [Trigger.EdgexMessageBus] configuration described below.

Type Configuration

Example Trigger Configuration

  Type: "edgex-messagebus"

In the above example Type is set to edgex-messagebus trigger type so data will be received from the EdgeX MessageBus and may be Published to the EdgeX MessageBus, if configured.

Subscribe/Publish Topics


The SubscribeTopics configuration specifies the comma separated list of topics the service will subscribe to.


The default SubscribeTopics configuration is set in the App Services Common Trigger Configuration.


The PublishTopic configuration specifies the topic published to when the ResponseData is set via the ctx.SetResponseData([]byte outputData) API. Nothing will be published if the PublishTopic is not set or the ResponseData is never set


The default PublishTopic configuration is set in the App Services Common Trigger Configuration.

MessageBus Connection Configuration

See the EdgeX MessageBus section for complete details.

Edgex 3.0

For Edgex 3.0 the MessageBus configuration settings are set in the Common MessageBus Configuration.

Filter By Topics

App services now have the capability to filter by EdgeX MessageBus topics rather than using Filter functions in the functions pipeline. Filtering by topic is more efficient since the App Service never receives the data off the MessageBus. Core Data and/or Device Services now publish to multi-level topics that include the profilename, devicename and sourcename . Sources are the commandname or resourcename that generated the Event. The publish topics now look like this:

# From Core Data

# From Device Services

This with App Services capability to have multiple subscriptions allows for multiple filters by subscriptions. The SubscribeTopics setting takes a comma separated list of subscribe topics.

Here are a few examples of how to configure the SubscribeTopics setting under the Trigger.EdgexMessageBus.SubscribeHost section to filter by subscriptions using the profile, device and source names from the SNMP Device Service file here:

  • Filter for all Events (default in common Trigger configuration)
  SubscribeTopics: "events/#"
  • Filter for Events only from a single class of devices (device profile defines a class of device)
  SubscribeTopics: "events/+/+/trendnet/#"
  • Filter for Events only from a single actual device
  SubscribeTopics: "edgex/events/+/+/+/trendnet01/#"
  • Filter for Events from two specific actual devices
  SubscribeTopics: "edgex/events/+/+/+/trendnet01/#, edgex/events/+/+/+/trendnet02/#"
  • Filter for Events from two specific sources.
  SubscribeTopics: "edgex/events/+/+/+/+/Uptime, edgex/events/+/+/+/+/MacAddress"

External MQTT Trigger

An External MQTT trigger will execute the pipeline every time data is received from an external MQTT broker on the configured SubscribeTopics.


The data received from the external MQTT broker is not wrapped with any metadata known to EdgeX. The data is handled as JSON or CBOR. The data is assumed to be JSON unless the first byte in the data is not a { or a [, in which case it is then assumed to be CBOR.


The data received, encoded as JSON or CBOR, must match the TargetType defined by your application service. The default TargetType is an Edgex Event. See TargetType for more details.

Type Configuration

Example Trigger Configuration

  Type: "external-mqtt"
  SubscribeTopics: "external/#"
  PublishTopic: ""

The Type is set to external-mqtt. To receive data from the external MQTT Broker you must set your SubscribeTopics to the appropriate topic(s) that the external publisher is using. You may also designate a PublishTopic if you wish to publish data back to the external MQTT Broker. The Context function ctx.SetResponseData([]byte outputData) stores the data to send back to the external MQTT Broker on the topic specified by the PublishTopic setting.

the PublishTopic can have placeholders. See Publish Topic Placeholders section below for more details

External MQTT Broker Configuration

The other piece of configuration required are the MQTT Broker connection settings:

    Url: "tls://"
    ClientId: "app-external-mqtt-trigger"
    Qos: 0
    KeepAlive: 10
    Retained: false
    AutoReconnect: true
    ConnectTimeout: "30s"
    SkipCertVerify: true
    AuthMode: "clientcert"
    SecretName: "external-mqtt"
    RetryDuration: 600
    RetryInterval: 5
      Enabled: true # Enables Last Will capability
      Topic: "serviceX/last/will" # Topic to publish the Last Will Payload when service disconnects from MQTT Broker
      Payload: "serviceX has exited" # Will message to be sent to Will Topic
      Qos: 2 # QOS level for Will Topic
      Retained: true # Retained setting for Will Topic

See MQTT Last Will for more details on MQTT Last Will capability.

EdgeX 3.1

Last Will capability is new in EdgeX 3.1

HTTP Trigger

Designating an HTTP trigger will allow the pipeline to be triggered by a RESTful POST call to http://[host]:[port]/api/v3/trigger/.

Type Configuration

Example Trigger Configuration

  Type: "http" 

The Type= is set to http. This will enable listening to the api/v3/trigger/ endpoint. No other configuration is required. The Context function ctx.SetResponseData([]byte outputData) stores the data to send back as the response to the request that originally triggered the HTTP Request.


The HTTP trigger uses the content-type from the HTTP Header to determine if the data is JSON or CBOR encoded and the optional X-Correlation-ID to set the correlation ID for the request.


The data received, encoded as JSON or CBOR, must match the TargetType defined by your application service. The default TargetType is an Edgex Event. See TargetType for more details.

Custom Triggers

It is also possible to define your own trigger and register a factory function for it with the SDK. You can then configure the trigger by registering a factory function to build it along with a name to use in the config file. These triggers can be registered with:

service.RegisterCustomTriggerFactory("my-trigger-name", myFactoryFunc) 


You can NOT override trigger names built into the SDK ( "edgex-messagebus", "external-mqtt", or "http") for a custom trigger.

The trigger factory function is bound to an instance of a trigger configuration struct that is provided by the SDK:

type TriggerConfig struct {
    Logger           logger.LoggingClient
    ContextBuilder   TriggerContextBuilder
    MessageReceived  TriggerMessageHandler
    ConfigLoader     TriggerConfigLoader

This type carries a pointer to the internal edgex logger, along with three functions:

  • ContextBuilder builds an interfaces.AppFunctionContext from a message envelope you construct.
  • MessageReceived exposes a function that sends your message envelope and context to any pipelines configured in the EdgeX service. It also takes a function that will be run to process the response for each successful pipeline.


The context passed in to Received will be cloned for each pipeline configured to run. If a nil context is passed a new one will be initialized from the message.

  • ConfigLoader exposes a function that loads your custom config struct. By default, this is done from the primary EdgeX configuration pipeline, and only loads root-level elements.

If you need to override these functions it can be done in the factory function registered with the service.

The custom trigger constructed here will then need to implement the trigger interface so that the SDK can invoke it:

type Trigger interface {
    Initialize(wg *sync.WaitGroup, ctx context.Context, background <-chan BackgroundMessage) (bootstrap.Deferred, error)

type BackgroundMessage interface {
    Message() types.MessageEnvelope
    Topic() string

This leaves a lot of flexibility for how you want the trigger to behave (for example you could write a trigger to watch for file changes, or run on a timer). Below is a sample implementation of a trigger that reads lines from os.Stdin and pass the captured string through the edgex function pipeline. In this case the target type for the service is set to &[]byte{}.

type stdinTrigger struct{
    tc appsdk.TriggerConfig

func (t *stdinTrigger) Initialize(wg *sync.WaitGroup, ctx context.Context, _ <-chan interfaces.BackgroundMessage) (bootstrap.Deferred, error) {
    msgs := make(chan []byte)

    receiveMessage := true

    responseHandler := func(ctx AppFunctionContext, pipeline *FunctionPipeline) {
        // do stuff

    go func() {
        fmt.Print("> ")
        rdr := bufio.NewReader(os.Stdin)
        for receiveMessage {
            s, err := rdr.ReadString('\n')
            s = strings.TrimRight(s, "\n")

            if err != nil {

            msgs <- []byte(s)

    go func() {
        for receiveMessage {
            select {
            case <-ctx.Done():
                receiveMessage = false

            case m := <-msgs:
                go func() {
                    env := types.MessageEnvelope{
                        Payload: m,

                    ctx :=

                    err :=, env, responseHandler)

                    if err != nil {

    return cancel, nil

This trigger can then be registered by calling:

appService.RegisterCustomTriggerFactory("custom-stdin", func(config appsdk.TriggerConfig) (appsdk.Trigger, error) {
    return &stdinTrigger{
        tc: config,
    }, nil

Type Configuration

Example Trigger Configuration

  Type: "custom-stdin" 

Now the custom trigger is configured to be used rather than one of the built-in triggers.

A complete working example can be found here

Publish Topic Placeholders

Both the EdgeX MessageBusand the External MQTT triggers support the new Publish Topic Placeholders capability. The configured PublishTopic for either of these triggers can contain placeholders for runtime replacements. The placeholders are replaced with values from the new Context Storage whose key match the placeholder name. Function pipelines can add values to the Context Storage which can then be used as replacement values in the publish topic. If an EdgeX Event is received by the configured trigger the Event's profilename, devicename and sourcename as well as they will be seeded into the Context Storage. See the Context Storage documentation for more details.

The Publish Topic Placeholders format is a simple {<key-name>} that can appear anywhere in the topic multiple times. An error will occur if a specified placeholder does not exist in the Context Storage.


PublishTopic: "data/{profilename}/{devicename}/{custom}"

Received Topic

The topic the data was received on for EdgeX MessageBus and the External MQTT triggers is now stored in the new Context Storage with the key receivedtopic. This makes it available to pipeline functions via the Context Storage .