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Leo Richardson
Leo Richardson

Node-RED: A Node.js-Based Runtime for Creating and Sharing Flows


How to Download and Install Node-RED on Windows




Node-RED is a programming tool for wiring together hardware devices, APIs and online services in new and interesting ways. It provides a browser-based editor that makes it easy to wire together flows using the wide range of nodes in the palette that can be deployed to its runtime in a single-click. In this article, we will show you how to download and install Node-RED on Windows, and how to create your first flow.


What is Node-RED and why use it?




Node-RED is a low-code programming tool that allows you to create event-driven applications by connecting nodes that represent different functions or services. You can use Node-RED to integrate IoT devices, cloud-based systems, web services, databases, APIs and more.




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Node-RED features




Some of the key features of Node-RED are :


  • Browser-based flow editing: You can create and edit flows using a graphical interface that lets you drag and drop nodes from the palette and connect them with wires.



  • Built on Node.js: The runtime is based on Node.js, which is a lightweight and efficient JavaScript platform that supports a large number of modules and libraries.



  • Social development: The flows created in Node-RED are stored using JSON, which can be easily imported and exported for sharing with others. You can also browse and download flows from an online library.



  • Extensible: You can add new nodes to the palette by installing additional modules from the npm repository or by creating your own custom nodes.



Node-RED benefits




Some of the benefits of using Node-RED are :


  • No reinventing the wheel: You can leverage existing nodes and modules that provide common functionality or connect to various services, without writing any code.



  • User friendly and accessible: You can create applications using a visual interface that is easy to use and understand, without requiring any programming skills.



  • Lightweight and efficient: You can run Node-RED on low-cost hardware such as the Raspberry Pi or in the cloud, taking advantage of its event-driven and non-blocking model.



  • Creative and fun: You can experiment with different nodes and flows, and create new and interesting applications in a matter of minutes.



How to download Node-RED




To download and install Node-RED on Windows, you need to follow these steps:


Prerequisites




Before you start, you need to have the following prerequisites:


  • A Windows computer with Windows 10 or later. It is not advisable to use versions prior to Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008R2 due to lack of current support.



  • A command prompt. You can use either the Windows cmd or PowerShell terminal shells. It is recommended to use PowerShell on newer versions of Windows as it gives you access to commands and folder names that are closer to those of Linux/Mac.



  • Local administrator rights. Installing Node.js and Node-RED requires local administrator rights; if you are not a local administrator, you will be prompted for an administrator password on install.



Downloading Node.js




The first step is to download the latest 14.x LTS version of Node.js from the official . It will offer you the best version for your system. Once you have downloaded the Node.js installer, run it and follow the instructions. You can accept the default settings, but make sure to check the option to install the necessary tools for native modules. This will install Python and the Visual Studio Build Tools, which are required for some Node-RED nodes.


Installing Node-RED as a global module




After installing Node.js, you can install Node-RED as a global module using the npm command. Open a command prompt as an administrator and type the following command:


npm install -g --unsafe-perm node-red


This will download and install Node-RED and its dependencies. The --unsafe-perm flag is needed to avoid permission issues on Windows. You should see a message like this when the installation is complete:


+ node-red@2.1.4 added 357 packages from 338 contributors in 69.956s


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node-red --version


You should see something like this:


Node-RED version: v2.1.4 Node.js version: v14.18.2 Windows_NT 10.0.19043 x64 LE


How to run Node-RED




Now that you have installed Node-RED, you can run it and start creating your flows.


Starting Node-RED from the command prompt




To start Node-RED, open a command prompt as an administrator and type:


node-red


This will launch the Node-RED runtime and display some information on the console, such as the version, the settings file, the user directory, and the flows file. You should see something like this:


Welcome to Node-RED =================== 21 Dec 11:57:07 - [info] Node-RED version: v2.1.4 21 Dec 11:57:07 - [info] Node.js version: v14.18.2 21 Dec 11:57:07 - [info] Windows_NT 10.0.19043 x64 LE 21 Dec 11:57:08 - [info] Loading palette nodes 21 Dec 11:57:10 - [info] Settings file : C:\Users\user\.node-red\settings.js 21 Dec 11:57:10 - [info] Context store : 'default' [module=memory] 21 Dec 11:57:10 - [info] User directory : C:\Users\user\.node-red 21 Dec 11:57:10 - [warn] Projects disabled : editorTheme.projects.enabled=false 21 Dec 11:57:10 - [info] Flows file : C:\Users\user\.node-red\flows_DESKTOP.json 21 Dec 11:57:10 - [info] Creating new flow file 21 Dec 11:57:10 - [info] Starting flows 21 Dec 11:57:10 - [info] Started flows 21 Dec 11:57:10 - [info] Server now running at


The last line indicates that the Node-RED server is running and listening on port 1880 of your local machine.


Accessing the Node-RED editor from the browser




To access the Node-RED editor, open your browser and go to . You should see a screen like this:



This is where you can create and edit your flows using the nodes in the palette on the left, the workspace in the middle, and the debug and info panels on the right.


Creating your first flow




To create your first flow, you can follow these steps:


  • Drag an inject node from the input section of the palette and drop it on the workspace.



  • Double-click on the inject node to edit its properties. Change the payload type to string and enter "Hello World" as the payload value. Click Done to save.



  • Drag a debug node from the output section of the palette and drop it on the workspace.



  • Connect the output of the inject node to the input of the debug node by clicking and dragging a wire between them.



  • Click on the Deploy button on the top right corner to deploy your flow to the runtime.



  • Click on the inject node's button (the small square on the left) to trigger the flow. You should see "Hello World" appear in the debug panel on the right.



Congratulations, you have created your first flow in Node-RED!


Conclusion




In this article, we have shown you how to download and install Node-RED on Windows, and how to create your first flow. Node-RED is a powerful and easy-to-use tool for creating event-driven applications by wiring together nodes that represent different functions or services. You can use Node-RED to integrate IoT devices, cloud-based systems, web services, databases, APIs and more. You can also extend Node-RED by adding new nodes from the npm repository or by creating your own custom nodes. We hope


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