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Device Simulation Overview

Deploy to Azure

This service allows management of a pool of simulated devices. The service helps test the end-to-end flow of IoT applications. The service simulates devices that send device-to-cloud (D2C) telemetry and allows cloud-to-device (C2D) methods to be invoked by application connected IoT Hub.

The service provides a RESTful endpoint to configure the simulation details, to start and stop the simulation, to add and remove virtual devices. The simulation is composed by a set of virtual devices, of different models, each sending telemetry and replying to method calls.

Each device model defines a distinct behavior (e.g. the data generated by virtual sensors), frequency and format of the telemetry, network protocols, and which methods are supported.


The service depends on:

  • Azure IoT Hub used to store virtual devices, to send telemetry and receive method calls
  • Storage adapter microservice used to store the simulation details
  • Configuration settings to connect to IoT Hub and the Storage Adapter. These settings are stored in environment variables, which are referenced by the service configuration. See below for more information.

How to use the microservice

Quickstart - Running the service with Docker

  1. Create an instance of Azure IoT Hub
  2. Follow the Storage quickstart instructions for setting up the storage used by Storage Adapter microservice.
  3. Find your Iot Hub connection string. See Understanding IoTHub Connection Strings if you need help finding it.
  4. Store the "IoT Hub Connection string" in the env-vars-setup script, then run the script. When using MacOS/Linux, the environment variables need to be set in the same terminal session where Docker is executed, every time a new session is created.
  5. Install Docker Compose
  6. Start the Simulation service using docker compose:
    cd scripts
    cd docker
    docker-compose up
  7. Use an HTTP client such as Postman, to exercise the RESTful API to create a simulation.

Running the service locally, e.g. for development tasks

The service can be started from any C# IDE and from the command line. The only difference you might notice is how environment variables are configured. See the Configuration and Environment variables documentation below for more information.

  1. Install .NET Core SDK 2.1.607
  2. Install any recent edition of Visual Studio (Windows/MacOS) or Visual Studio Code (Windows/MacOS/Linux).
  3. Create an instance of Azure IoT Hub.
  4. Follow the Storage quickstart instructions for setting up and running the Storage Adapter microservice, which should be listening at
  5. Open the solution in Visual Studio or VS Code
  6. Define the following environment variables. See Configuration and Environment variables for detailed information for setting these for your enviroment.
    • PCS_IOTHUB_CONNSTRING = {your Azure IoT Hub connection string}
  7. Start the WebService project (e.g. press F5)
  8. Test if the service is running, opening
  9. Using an HTTP client like Postman, use the RESTful API to create a simulation.

Project Structure

The solution contains the following projects and folders:

  • WebService: ASP.NET Web API exposing a RESTful API for Simulation functionality, e.g. start, stop, add devices, etc. This is also the service entry point, starting all the main threads.
  • SimulationAgent: Library containing the logic that controls the simulation. The logic is started by the WebService assembly.
  • Services: Library containing common business logic for interacting with Azure IoT Hub, Storage Adapter, and to run the simulation code.
  • WebService.Test: Unit tests for the ASP.NET Web API project.
  • SimulationAgent.Test: Unit tests for the SimulationAgent project.
  • Services.Test: Unit tests for the Services library.
  • scripts: a folder containing scripts for the command line console, to build and run the solution, and other frequent tasks.

Build and Run from the command line

The scripts folder contains scripts for many frequent tasks:

  • build: compile all the projects and run the tests.
  • compile: compile all the projects.
  • run: compile the projects and run the service. This will prompt for elevated privileges in Windows to run the web service.

Building a customized Docker image

The scripts folder includes a docker subfolder with the scripts required to package the service into a Docker image:

  • Dockerfile: Docker image specifications
  • build: build a Docker image and store the image in the local registry
  • run: run the Docker container from the image stored in the local registry
  • content: a folder with files copied into the image, including the entry point script

You can also start Device Simulation and its dependencies in one simple step, using Docker Compose with the docker-compose.yml file in the project:

cd scripts
cd docker
docker-compose up

The Docker compose configuration requires the IoTHub and StorageAdapter web service URL environment variables, described previously.

Configuration and Environment variables

The service configuration is accessed via ASP.NET Core configuration adapters, and stored in appsettings.ini. The INI format allows to store values in a readable format, with comments.

The configuration also supports references to environment variables, e.g. to import credentials and network details. Environment variables are not mandatory though, you can for example edit appsettings.ini and write credentials directly in the file. Just be careful not sharing the changes, e.g. sending a Pull Request or checking in the changes in git.

The configuration file in the repository references some environment variables that need to be defined. Depending on the OS and the IDE used, there are several ways to manage environment variables.

  1. If you're using Visual Studio or Visual Studio for Mac, the environment variables are loaded from the project settings. Right click on WebService, and select Options/Properties, and find the section with the list of env vars. See WebService/Properties/launchSettings.json.
  2. Visual Studio Code loads the environment variables from .vscode/launch.json
  3. When running the service with Docker or from the command line, the application will inherit environment variables values from the system.

Other resources

Contributing to the solution

Please follow our contribution guidelines. We love PRs too.




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