Node Red Overview and Getting Started Guide

node-red-iconWhat is Node Red? –Node red is a flow based tool and IOT Dashboard developed by IBM and written in Node.js and is an Open Source project

Node red lets you easily create program flows by joining together black box functions using a web interface.

In this tutorial you will learn how to install Node red on Windows and Linux and how to navigate and use the Web Interface..

Installing Node Red

Before you Install node red you will need to install node.

Update the package manager

npm install npm --global // Update the `npm` CLI client

and now install node red using these instructions

Starting Node Red

To start node red on Windows go to a command prompt and type:

node c:\node\node_modules\nodered\red.js

Note: you may need to change into the node directory.

On Linux:

Firstly running node by typing node may not work as apparently node is a shortcut to nodejs and the shortcut may not be present.


In addition there appears to be a naming conflict with another package. see this explanation

The screenshot show how to create the symbolic link


Now that node is working you can run node-red

Type node-red at the command prompt. If that doesn’t work it’s probable because the link isn’t configured as shown above. You can try the alternative.

nodejs /usr/local/bin/node-red

As shown below


At the bottom of the screen it tells you the url to use to access the node-red web interface to create your flows


This consoles stays open and you will find it useful as when you start creating flows you will see log information appearing there.

.Now open a web browser to if you are running the browser on the same machines as node-red.

I prefer to run node-red on a LInux machine and use a second machine to access it


You should start with an empty work space as shown above.

Installing The Node-Red Dashboard

The node red dashboard is an add-on module that lets you create live dashboards and is optional but recommended.

Here are the install instructions and a brief description.

Important Notes:

  • On Linux you need to have created the link to node or the install fails.
  • You get a series of warnings at the end as shown belownodered-dashboard-install-warningsThese are nothing to worry about.
  • You need to go to the ~/.node-red folder (Linux) to do the install otherwise when you open the node-red interface the dashboard icons will be missing.

Using Node Red and creating Flows

You should start with an empty work space as shown in the screen shot above.

The default view is a three column layout nodes on the left ,flows work space in the middle and a third column with three tabs( info,debug and dashboard).


To add nodes to a flow drag them from the left column into the main screen.

You can link the flows together by dragging a wire between them.

The node are grouped based on function. There is a input group, output group,functional nodes,dashboard or display nodes etc..

The dashboard or display nodes appear on the User Interface (UI)dashboard.

To access this dashboard use the url – host:1800/ui or in my example: steve-laptop:1880/ui

An example UI dashboard is shown below:


The layout of the UI screen can be controlled in the dashboard tab (third column main screen) .

node-red-dashboard column

Node Red Demo Videos

The following videos shows you how to use the web interface to create a basic flows.

In this video tutorial I use Node-red to subscribe to an MQTT broker and display messages on a topic.

This video follows on from the first and in it we create an MQTT dashboard to control and display two MQTT sensors as well as learning more about using node-red..

Related Tutorials and resources:



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