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The Things Network Stack for LoRaWAN Development

The Things Network Stack components are primarily built in Go, while we use Node for web front-ends. It is assumed that you have decent knowledge and experience with these technologies. If you want to get more familiar with Go, we strongly recommend to take A Tour of Go.

Development Environment

The Things Network's development environment heavily relies on make. Under the hood, make calls other tools such as git, go, yarn etc. Recent versions are supported; Node v10.x and Go v1.12.x. Let's first make sure you have go, node and yarn:

On macOS using Homebrew:

brew install go node yarn

On Ubuntu (or on Windows using the Windows Subsystem for Linux):

curl -sL | sudo -E bash -
sudo apt-get install -y build-essential nodejs

curl -sSL | sudo tar -xz -C /usr/local
sudo ln -s /usr/local/go/bin/* /usr/local/bin

Cloning the repository

If you are unfamiliar with forking projects on GitHub or cloning them locally, please see the GitHub documentation.

Getting started

As most of the tasks will be managed by make and mage we will first initialize the tooling. You may want to run this commands from time to time:

make init

For convenience, you can initialize the development databases with some defaults.

Note: this requires Docker Desktop.

make dev.stack.init

This starts a CockroachDB and Redis database in Docker containers, creates a database, migrates tables and creates a user admin with password admin.

Managing the development databases

You can also use the following commands to start, stop and erase databases.

make dev.databases.start # Starts all databases in a Docker container
make dev.databases.stop  # Stops all databases

# The contents of the databases will be saved in .dev/data.

make dev.databases.erase # Stop all databases and erase storage.


CockroachDB is a distributed SQL database that we use in the Identity Server.

You can use make dev.databases.sql to enter an SQL shell.


Redis is an in-memory data store that we use as a database for "hot" data.

You can use make dev.databases.redis-cli to enter a Redis-CLI shell.


./mage go:test js:test jsSDK:test


There is a single binary for the server, ttn-lw-stack, as well as a binary for the command-line interface ttn-lw-cli. The single binary contains all components start one or multiple components. This allows you to run the stack with one command in simple deployment scenarios, as well as distributing micro-services for more advanced scenarios.

We provide binary releases for all supported platforms, including packages for various package managers at We suggest you use the compiled packages we provide in production scenarios.

For development/testing purposes we suggest either running required binaries via go run (e.g. go run ./cmd/ttn-lw-cli from repository root for CLI), or using go build directly. Note, that the frontend (if used) needs to be built via ./mage js:build before go build or go run commands are run.


If you want, you can build a release snapshot with ./mage buildSnapshot.

Note: You will at least need to have rpm and snapcraft in your PATH.

This will compile binaries for all supported platforms, deb, rpm and Snapcraft packages, release archives in dist, as well as Docker images.

Note: The operating system and architecture represent the name of the directory in dist in which the binaries are placed. For example, the binaries for Darwin x64 (macOS) will be located at dist/darwin_amd64.

Releasing a new version consists of the following steps:

  1. Bumping the version
  2. Writing the version files
  3. Creating the version bump commit
  4. Creating the version tag
  5. Building the release and pushing to package managers (this is done by CI)
  6. Edit the release notes

Our development tooling helps with this process. The mage command has the following commands for version bumps:

version:bumpMajor      bumps a major version (from 3.4.5 -> 4.0.0).
version:bumpMinor      bumps a minor version (from 3.4.5 -> 3.5.0).
version:bumpPatch      bumps a patch version (from 3.4.5 -> 3.4.6).
version:bumpRC         bumps a release candidate version (from 3.4.5-rc1 -> 3.4.5-rc2).
version:bumpRelease    bumps a pre-release to a release version (from 3.4.5-rc1 -> 3.4.5).

These bumps can be combined (i.e. version:bumpMinor version:bumpRC bumps 3.4.5 -> 3.5.0-rc1). Apart from these bump commands, we have commands for writing version files (version:files), creating the bump commit (version:commitBump) and the version tag (version:tag).

A typical release process is executed directly on the master branch and looks like this:

mage version:bumpPatch version:files version:commitBump version:tag // bump, write files, commit and tag.
git push origin $(mage version:current) // push the tag
git push origin master // push the master branch

Note that you must have sufficient repository rights to push to master.

After pushing the tag, our CI system will start building the release. When this is done, you'll find a new release on the releases page. After this is done, you'll need to edit the release notes. The release process will do its best to generate release notes for us, but they typically require a bit of editing.


Note: If you don't work on changes in the API you can skip this section.

Our APIs are defined in .proto files in the api folder. These files describe the messages and interfaces of the different components of the Stack. If this is the first time you hear the term "protocol buffers" you should probably read the protocol buffers documentation before you continue.

From the .proto files, we generate code using the protoc compiler. As we plan to compile to a number of different languages, we decided to put the compiler and its dependencies in a Docker image, so make sure you have Docker installed before you try to compile them.

The actual commands for compilation are handled by our Makefile, so the only thing you have to execute, is:

./mage proto:clean proto:all

Folder Structure

├── .editorconfig       configuration for your editor, see
├── CODEOWNERS          maintainers of folders who are required to approve pull requests
├──     guidelines for contributing: branching, commits, code style, etc.
├──      guide for setting up your development environment
├── docker-compose.yml  deployment file (including databases) for Docker Compose
├── Dockerfile          formula for building Docker images
├── LICENSE             the license that explains what you're allowed to do with this code
├── Makefile            dev/test/build tooling
├──           general information about this project
│   ...
├── api                 contains the protocol buffer definitions for our API
├── cmd                 contains the different binaries that form the TTN stack for LoRaWAN
│   ├── internal        contains internal files shared between the different binaries
│   │   ...
│   ├── ttn-lw-cli      the command-line-interface for the TTN stack for LoRaWAN
│   └── ttn-lw-stack    bundles the server binaries that form the TTN stack for LoRaWAN
├── config              configuration for our JavaScript SDK and frontend
├── doc                 detailed documentation on the workings of the TTN stack for LoRaWAN
├── pkg                 contains all libraries used in the TTN stack for LoRaWAN
│   ├── component       contains the base component; all other components extend this component
│   ├── config          package for configuration using config files, environment and CLI flags
│   ├── console         package that provides the web server for the console
│   ├── errors          package for rich errors that include metadata and cross API boundaries
│   ├── log             package for logging
│   ├── messages        contains non-proto messages (such as the messages that are sent over MQTT)
│   ├── metrics         package for metrics collection
│   ├── ttnpb           contains generated code from our protocol buffer definitions and some helper functions
│   ├── types           contains primitive types
│   ├── webui           contains js code for the console and oauth provider
│   └── ...
├── public              frontend code will be compiled to this folder - not added to git
├── release             binaries will be compiled to this folder - not added to git
└── sdk                 source code for our SDKs
    └── js              source code for our JavaScript SDK



The Things Network Stack for LoRaWAN includes two frontend applications: the Console and OAuth Provider. Both applications use React as frontend framework. The console and oauth packages of the backend expose their respective web servers and handle all logic that cannot be done in the browser. Otherwise both applications are single page applications (SPA) that run entirely in the browser.


The Console is the official management application of the stack. It can be used to register applications, end devices or gateways, monitor network traffic, or configure network related options, among other things. The console uses an OAuth access token to communicate with the stack.


The OAuth app provides the necessary frontend for the OAuth provider of the stack. It is used e.g. to display the authorization screen that users get prompted with when they want to authorize a third-party app to access the stack.

Building the frontend

You can control whether to build the frontend for production or development by setting the $NODE_ENV environment variable to either development or production. The frontend can then be built using:

mage js:build

This will initiate the following actions:

  • Install a version-fixed binary of yarn
  • Install JS SDK node dependencies via yarn
  • Build the JS SDK
  • Extract backend locale messages
  • Install frontend node dependencies via yarn
  • Build the frontend (using webpack) and output into /public

The difference of a development build includes:

  • Including source maps
  • Using DLL bundle for modules to reduce build time
  • A couple of special build options to improve usage with webpack-dev-server

After successfully running the build command, the stack has all necessary files to run the Console and OAuth provider applications.


Serving the frontend for development

For development purposes, the frontend can be run using webpack-dev-server. After following the Getting Started section to initialize the stack and doing an initial build of the frontend via mage js:build, it can be served using:

export NODE_ENV=development
mage js:serve

The development server runs on http://localhost:8080 and will proxy all api calls to port 1885. The serve command watches any changes inside pkg/webui and refreshes automatically. In order to set up the stack to support running the frontend via webpack-dev-server, the following environment setup is needed:


Note: We recommend using an environment switcher like direnv to help you setting up environments for different tasks easily.
All of the configuration options above can also be set using configuration files or runtime flags. For more info in this regard, see this guide.


For frontend testing, we use jest. We currently don't enforce any coverage minimum, but consider testing for complex logic. We use both snapshot testing for React Components with enzyme and plain jest testing for arbitrary logic.

To run the frontend tests, use:

mage js:test

Internationalization (i18n)

The Things Network Stack for LoRaWAN employs i18n to provide usage experience in different languages. As such, also the frontend uses translatable messages. For this purpose we use react-intl, which helps us greatly to define text messages used in the frontend. The workflow for defining messages is as follows:

  1. Add a react-intl message using intl.defineMessages({…})
  • This can be done either inline, or by adding it to pkg/webui/lib/shared-messages.js
  1. Use the message in components (e.g. sharedMessage.myMessage)

After adding messages this way, it needs to be added the locales file pkg/webui/locales/*.js by using:

mage js:translations

Note: When using mage js:serve, this command will be run automatically after any change

The message definitions in pkg/webui/locales can be used to provide translations in other languages (e.g. fr.js). Keep in mind that locale files are checked in and commited, any discrepancy in the locales file with the defined messages will lead to a CI failure.

Frontend Folder Structure


├── assets            assets (eg. vectors, images) used by the frontend
├── components        react components shared throughout the frontend
├── console           root of the console application
│   ├── api           api definitions to communicate with the stack
│   ├── containers    container components
│   ├── lib           utility classes and functions
│   ├── store         redux actions, reducers and logic middlewares
│   ├── views         whole view components of the console (~pages)
├── containers        global react container components
├── lib               global utility classes and functions
├── locales           frontend and backend locale jsons used for i18n
├── oauth             root of the oauth application
│   ├── api           api definitions to communicate with the stack
│   ├── store         redux actions, reducers and logic middlewares
│   ├── views         whole view components of the oauth provider (~pages)
├── styles            global stylus (~css) styles and mixins
├── console.js        entry point of the console app
├── oauth.js          entry point of the oauth app
├── manifest.go       generated manifest of the frontend, containing file hashes
├── template.go       go template module used to render the frontend HTML
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