The Official PubNub Arduino-based API!
Latest commit 54adc92 Dec 8, 2016 @vveljko vveljko committed on GitHub Version 2.0.2

PubNub Arduino Library

This library allows your sketches to communicate with the PubNub cloud message passing system using an Ethernet shield or any other network hardware (chip/shield) that has a class compatible with Arduino de facto standard EthernetClient. Your application can receive and send messages.

Copy-and-Paste-Ready Code!

See how easy it is to Publish and Subscribe!


void setup() {
    /* For debugging, set to speed of your choice */

    /* If you use some other HW, you need to do some other
       initialization of it here... */

    /* Start the Pubnub library by giving it a publish and subscribe
       keys */
    PubNub.begin(pubkey, subkey);

void loop() {
    /* Maintain DHCP lease. For other HW, you may need to do
       something else here, or maybe nothing at all. */

    /* Publish message. To write portable code, change `EthernetClient`
       to `Pubnub_BASE_CLIENT`. */
    EthernetClient *pclient = PubNub.publish(pubchannel, "\"message\"");
    if (pclient)

    /* Wait for news. */
    PubSubClient *sclient = PubNub.subscribe(subchannel);
    if (!sclient) return; // error
    char buffer[64]; size_t buflen = 0;
    while (sclient->wait_for_data()) {
        buffer[buflen++] = sclient->read();
    buffer[buflen] = 0;

    /* Print received message. You will want to look at it from
     * your code instead. */

Library Reference

bool PubNub.begin(char *publish_key, char *subscribe_key, char *origin)

To start using PubNub, use PubNub.begin(). This should be called after initializing your network hardware (like Ethernet.begin()).

Note that the string parameters are not copied; do not overwrite or free the memory where you stored the keys! (If you are passing string literals, don't worry about it.) Note that you should run only one of publish, subscribe and history requests each at once.

The origin parameter is optional, defaulting to "".

Pubnub_BASE_CLIENT *publish(char *channel, char *message, int timeout)

Send a message (assumed to be well-formed JSON) to a given channel.

Returns NULL in case of error, instead a pointer to an instance of Pubnub_BASE_CLIENT class that you can use to read the reply to the publish command. If you don't care about it, call client->stop() right away. The default Pubnub_BASE_CLIENT is EthernetClient, and the second most used one is WiFiClient, but, any compatible client class will do.

The timeout parameter is optional, with a sensible default. See also a note about timeouts below.

PubSubClient *subscribe(char *channel)

Listen for a message on a given channel. The function will block and return when a message arrives. NULL is returned in case of error. The return type is PubSubClient, which you can work with it exactly like with EthernetClient, but it also provides an extra convenience method wait_for_data() that allows you to wait for more data with sensible timeout.

Typically, you will run this function from loop() function to keep listening for messages indefinitely.

As a reply, if all goes well, you will get a JSON array with messages, e.g.:


and so on. Empty reply [] is also normal and your code must be able to handle that. Note that the reply specifically does not include the time token present in the raw reply from PubNub; no need to worry about that.

The timeout parameter is optional, with a sensible default. See also a note about timeouts below.

Pubnub_BASE_CLIENT *history(char *channel, int limit, int timeout)

Receive list of the last messages published on the given channel. The limit argument is optional and defaults to 10.

The timeout parameter is optional, defaulting to 305. See also a note about timeouts below.

This is not an officially supported API, it is there mostly for convinience for people that used it


Since version 1.1.1, Pubnub SDK is part of the Arduino Library Manager and you can use it directly from Arduino IDE (v 1.6.8 or newer).

But, sometimes Arduino online repository for its Library manager takes time to update to new releases of Pubnub SDK, so, you might want to install it manually. To do so, download a release from Arduino SDK on Github and move the contents to your Arduino libraries directory (on Linux, default would be: ~/sketchbook/libraries/PubNub/) and restart your Arduino IDE. Try out the examples!

Keep in mind that if you both install the library via Arduino Library Manager and manually, and the versions mismatch, Arduino IDE will issue warnings like:

Invalid version found: x.y.z

Where x.y.z would be the version ID ofthe manually installed library. This is just a warning, the build and upload process is not impacted in any way by this.

Supported Hardware

In general, the most widely available Arduino boards and shields are supported and tested. Any Arduino board that has networking hardware that supports an EthernetClient compatible class should work.

The Arduino ecosystem features a multitude of platforms that have significant differences regarding their hardware capabilities. Keeping up with all of them is next to impossible.

If you find some Arduino board/shield that does provide an EthernetClient compatbile class and it doesn't work with Pubnub library, let us know.

Also, if you have some Arduino board/shield that doesn't provide an EthernetClient compatible class and you want to use Pubnub with it, please let us know.

Arduino Ethernet Shield

For this to work, all you need to do is to include the Ethernet Shield Arduino library and start your sketch with:

#include <EthernetClient>
#include <Pubnub.h>

As EthernetClient is the default Pubnub_BASE_CLIENT.

Of course, you also need to initialize the shield and do any maintenance (like DHCP lease).

WiFi (Shield) Support

Whether you are using the older WiFi shield or the Arduino WiFi Shield 101, you will be using the WiFiClient class. Keep in mind that the WiFi101 library is used with other shields/boards (Arduino MKR1000, Adafruit Feather M0 WINC1500...) and that WiFiClient is the name of the client class for most Wifi hardware even if it uses another library.

So, for any WiFi101 compatible hardware, you would:

#include <WiFi101.h>
#define Pubnub_BASE_CLIENT WiFiClient
#include <Pubnub.h>

For hadware that doesn't use WiFi101 library, but provides a WiFiClient class, like ESP8266, you would:

#include <ESP8266WiFi.h>
#define Pubnub_BASE_CLIENT WiFiClient
#include <Pubnub.h>

Of course, please keep in mind that you need to initialize your WiFi hardware, connect to a WiFi network and possibly do some maintenance, which is hardware specific. But, Pubnub SDK has nothing to do with that, it expects a working network. We provide examples for some HW.


  • If you #include <PubNub.h>, it will define the global PubNub object in your code. Thus, you can't #include <Pubnub.h> in two or more different files in you project, but only in one file. In all other source files (if you have them) #include <PubNubDefs.h>, which doesn't define the global PubNub object. This shouldn't be much of an inconvenience, as most Arduino projects have only one file - the sketch itself.

  • We don't provide any SSL/TLS support, because of modest resource of most Arduino compatible boards. But, some shields/boards have SSL ("Secure") clients and you may succeed in using them instead of the non-secure clients (say WiFiClientSecure instead of WiFiClient). How to do that depends on the specific hardware and library.

  • We re-resolve the origin server IP address before each request. This means some slow-down for intensive communication, but we rather expect light traffic and very long-running sketches (days, months), where refreshing the IP address is quite desirable.

  • We let the users read replies at their leisure instead of returning an already preloaded string so that (a) they can do that in loop() code while taking care of other things as well (b) we don't waste precious RAM by pre-allocating buffers that are never needed.

  • If you are having problems connecting, maybe you have hit a bug in Debian's version of Arduino pertaining the DNS code. Try using an IP address as origin and/or upgrading your Arduino package.

  • The optional timeout parameter allows you to specify a timeout period after which the subscribe call shall be retried. Note that this timeout is applied only for reading response, not for connecting or sending data; use retransmission parameters of the network library to tune this. As a rule of thumb, timeout smaller than 30 seconds may still block longer with flaky network.

  • The vendor firmware for the WiFi shield has dubious TCP implementation; for example, TCP ports of outgoing connections are always chosen from the same sequence, so if you reset your Arduino, some of the new connections may interfere with an outstanding TCP connection that has not been closed before the reset; i.e. you will typically see a single failed request somewhere down the road after a reset.

  • In general, there may be many issues with different shields and Arduino-compatible boards. A common issue is the firmware version. Please look to the available info on your shield and board for troubleshooting.