Tutorial: Develop a C IoT Edge module and deploy to your simulated device

You can use IoT Edge modules to deploy code that implements your business logic directly to your IoT Edge devices. This tutorial walks you through creating and deploying an IoT Edge module that filters sensor data. In this tutorial, you learn how to:

  • Use Visual Studio Code to create an IoT Edge module in C
  • Use Visual Studio Code and Docker to create a docker image and publish it to a container registry
  • Deploy the module to your IoT Edge device
  • View generated data

The IoT Edge module that you create in this tutorial filters the temperature data generated by your device. It only sends messages upstream if the temperature is above a specified threshold. This type of analysis at the edge is useful for reducing the amount of data communicated to and stored in the cloud.

If you don't have an Azure subscription, create a free account before you begin.


An Azure IoT Edge device:

  • You can use your development machine or a virtual machine as an Edge device by following the steps in the quickstart for Linux or Windows devices.
  • C modules for Azure IoT Edge don't support Windows containers. If your IoT Edge device is a Windows machine, configure it to use Linux containers

Cloud resources:

  • A free or standard-tier IoT Hub in Azure.

Development resources:


C modules for Azure IoT Edge don't support Windows containers.

Open Azure Cloud Shell

Azure Cloud Shell is a free, interactive shell that you can use to run the steps in this article. Common Azure tools are preinstalled and configured in Cloud Shell for you to use with your account. Just select the Copy button to copy the code, paste it in Cloud Shell, and then press Enter to run it. There are a few ways to open Cloud Shell:

Select Try It in the upper-right corner of a code block. Cloud Shell in this article
Open Cloud Shell in your browser. https://shell.azure.com/bash
Select the Cloud Shell button on the menu in the upper-right corner of the Azure portal. Cloud Shell in the portal

Create a container registry

In this tutorial, you use the Azure IoT Edge extension for VS Code to build a module and create a container image from the files. Then you push this image to a registry that stores and manages your images. Finally, you deploy your image from your registry to run on your IoT Edge device.

You can use any Docker-compatible registry for this tutorial. Two popular Docker registry services available in the cloud are Azure Container Registry and Docker Hub. This tutorial uses Azure Container Registry.

The following Azure CLI command creates a registry in a resource group called IoTEdgeResources. Replace {acr_name} with a unique name for your registry.

az acr create --resource-group IoTEdgeResources --name {acr_name} --sku Basic --admin-enabled true

Retrieve the credentials for your registry.

az acr credential show --name {acr_name}

Copy the values for Username and one of the passwords. You'll use these values later in the tutorial when you publish the Docker image to your registry, and when you add the registry credentials to the Edge runtime.

Create an IoT Edge module project

The following steps show you how to create an IoT Edge module project based on .NET core 2.0 using Visual Studio Code and the Azure IoT Edge extension.

Create a new solution

Create a C solution template that you can customize with your own code.

  1. Select View > Command Palette to open the VS Code command palette.

  2. In the command palette, type and run the command Azure: Sign in and follow the instructions to sign in your Azure account. If you've already signed in, you can skip this step.

  3. In the command palette, type and run the command Azure IoT Edge: New IoT Edge solution. In the command palette, provide the following information to create your solution:

    1. Select the folder where you want to create the solution.
    2. Provide a name for your solution or accept the default EdgeSolution.
    3. Choose C Module as the module template.
    4. Name your module CModule.
    5. Specify the Azure Container Registry that you created in the previous section as the image repository for your first module. Replace localhost:5000 with <registry name>.azurecr.io. Only replace the localhost part of the string, don't delete your module name.

    Provide Docker image repository

The VS Code window loads your IoT Edge solution workspace. The solution workspace contains five top-level components. You won't edit the .vscode folder or .gitignore file in this tutorial. The modules folder contains the C code for your module as well as Dockerfiles for building your module as a container image. The .env file stores your container registry credentials. The deployment.template.json file contains the information that the IoT Edge runtime uses to deploy modules on a device.

If you didn't specify a container registry when creating your solution, but accepted the default localhost:5000 value, you won't have a .env file.

C solution workspace

Add your registry credentials

The environment file stores the credentials for your container registry and shares them with the IoT Edge runtime. The runtime needs these credentials to pull your private images onto the IoT Edge device.

  1. In the VS Code explorer, open the .env file.
  2. Update the fields with the username and password values that you copied from your Azure container registry.
  3. Save this file.

Update the module with custom code

Add code to your C module that allows it to read in data from the sensor, check whether the reported machine temperature has exceeded a safe threshold, and pass that information on to IoT Hub.

  1. The data from the sensor in this scenario comes in JSON format. To filter messages in JSON format, import a JSON library for C. This tutorial uses Parson.

    1. Download the Parson Github repository. Copy the parson.c and parson.h files into the CModule folder.

    2. Open modules > CModule > CMakeLists.txt. At the top of the file, import the Parson files as a library called my_parson.

    3. Add my_parson to the list of libraries in the target_link_libraries function of CMakeLists.txt.

    4. Save the CMakeLists.txt file.

    5. Open modules > CModule > main.c. At the buttom of the list of include statements, add a new one to include parson.h for JSON support:

      #include "parson.h"
  2. In the main.c file, add a global variable called temperatureThreshold after the include section. This variable sets the value that the measured temperature must exceed in order for the data to be sent to IoT Hub.

    static double temperatureThreshold = 25;
  3. Replace the entire CreateMessageInstance function with the following code. This function allocates a context for the callback.

    static MESSAGE_INSTANCE* CreateMessageInstance(IOTHUB_MESSAGE_HANDLE message)
        MESSAGE_INSTANCE* messageInstance = (MESSAGE_INSTANCE*)malloc(sizeof(MESSAGE_INSTANCE));
        if (NULL == messageInstance)
            printf("Failed allocating 'MESSAGE_INSTANCE' for pipelined message\r\n");
            memset(messageInstance, 0, sizeof(*messageInstance));
            if ((messageInstance->messageHandle = IoTHubMessage_Clone(message)) == NULL)
                messageInstance = NULL;
                messageInstance->messageTrackingId = messagesReceivedByInput1Queue;
                MAP_HANDLE propMap = IoTHubMessage_Properties(messageInstance->messageHandle);
                if (Map_AddOrUpdate(propMap, "MessageType", "Alert") != MAP_OK)
                    printf("ERROR: Map_AddOrUpdate Failed!\r\n");
        return messageInstance;
  4. Replace the entire InputQueue1Callback function with the following code. This function implements the actual messaging filter.

    static IOTHUBMESSAGE_DISPOSITION_RESULT InputQueue1Callback(IOTHUB_MESSAGE_HANDLE message, void* userContextCallback)
        IOTHUB_CLIENT_RESULT clientResult;
        IOTHUB_MODULE_CLIENT_LL_HANDLE iotHubModuleClientHandle = (IOTHUB_MODULE_CLIENT_LL_HANDLE)userContextCallback;
        unsigned const char* messageBody;
        size_t contentSize;
        if (IoTHubMessage_GetByteArray(message, &messageBody, &contentSize) != IOTHUB_MESSAGE_OK)
            messageBody = "<null>";
        printf("Received Message [%zu]\r\n Data: [%s]\r\n", 
                messagesReceivedByInput1Queue, messageBody);
        JSON_Value *root_value = json_parse_string(messageBody);
        JSON_Object *root_object = json_value_get_object(root_value);
        double temperature;
        if (json_object_dotget_value(root_object, "machine.temperature") != NULL && (temperature = json_object_dotget_number(root_object, "machine.temperature")) > temperatureThreshold)
            printf("Machine temperature %f exceeds threshold %f\r\n", temperature, temperatureThreshold);
            // This message should be sent to next stop in the pipeline, namely "output1".  What happens at "outpu1" is determined
            // by the configuration of the Edge routing table setup.
            MESSAGE_INSTANCE *messageInstance = CreateMessageInstance(message);
            if (NULL == messageInstance)
                result = IOTHUBMESSAGE_ABANDONED;
                printf("Sending message (%zu) to the next stage in pipeline\n", messagesReceivedByInput1Queue);
                clientResult = IoTHubModuleClient_LL_SendEventToOutputAsync(iotHubModuleClientHandle, messageInstance->messageHandle, "output1", SendConfirmationCallback, (void *)messageInstance);
                if (clientResult != IOTHUB_CLIENT_OK)
                    printf("IoTHubModuleClient_LL_SendEventToOutputAsync failed on sending msg#=%zu, err=%d\n", messagesReceivedByInput1Queue, clientResult);
                    result = IOTHUBMESSAGE_ABANDONED;
                    result = IOTHUBMESSAGE_ACCEPTED;
            printf("Not sending message (%zu) to the next stage in pipeline.\r\n", messagesReceivedByInput1Queue);
            result = IOTHUBMESSAGE_ACCEPTED;
        return result;
  5. Add a moduleTwinCallback function. This method receives updates on the desired properties from the module twin, and updates the temperatureThreshold variable to match. All modules have their own module twin, which lets you configure the code running inside a module directly from the cloud.

    static void moduleTwinCallback(DEVICE_TWIN_UPDATE_STATE update_state, const unsigned char* payLoad, size_t size, void* userContextCallback)
        printf("\r\nTwin callback called with (state=%s, size=%zu):\r\n%s\r\n", 
            ENUM_TO_STRING(DEVICE_TWIN_UPDATE_STATE, update_state), size, payLoad);
        JSON_Value *root_value = json_parse_string(payLoad);
        JSON_Object *root_object = json_value_get_object(root_value);
        if (json_object_dotget_value(root_object, "desired.TemperatureThreshold") != NULL) {
            temperatureThreshold = json_object_dotget_number(root_object, "desired.TemperatureThreshold");
        if (json_object_get_value(root_object, "TemperatureThreshold") != NULL) {
            temperatureThreshold = json_object_get_number(root_object, "TemperatureThreshold");
  6. Replace the SetupCallbacksForModule function with the following code.

    static int SetupCallbacksForModule(IOTHUB_MODULE_CLIENT_LL_HANDLE iotHubModuleClientHandle)
        int ret;
        if (IoTHubModuleClient_LL_SetInputMessageCallback(iotHubModuleClientHandle, "input1", InputQueue1Callback, (void*)iotHubModuleClientHandle) != IOTHUB_CLIENT_OK)
            printf("ERROR: IoTHubModuleClient_LL_SetInputMessageCallback(\"input1\")..........FAILED!\r\n");
            ret = __FAILURE__;
        else if (IoTHubModuleClient_LL_SetModuleTwinCallback(iotHubModuleClientHandle, moduleTwinCallback, (void*)iotHubModuleClientHandle) != IOTHUB_CLIENT_OK)
            printf("ERROR: IoTHubModuleClient_LL_SetModuleTwinCallback(default)..........FAILED!\r\n");
            ret = __FAILURE__;
            ret = 0;
        return ret;
  7. Save the main.c file.

Build your IoT Edge solution

In the previous section you created an IoT Edge solution and added code to the CModule that will filter out messages where the reported machine temperature is within the acceptable limits. Now you need to build the solution as a container image and push it to your container registry.

  1. Open the VS Code integrated terminal by selecting View > Integrated terminal.

  2. Sign in to Docker by entering the following command in the Visual Studio Code integrated terminal. You need to sign in with your Azure Container Registry credentials so that you can push your module image to the registry.

    docker login -u <ACR username> -p <ACR password> <ACR login server>

    Use the username, password, and login server that you copied from your Azure Container Registry in the first section. Or retrieve them again from the Access keys section of your registry in the Azure portal.

  3. In the VS Code explorer, open the deployment.template.json file in your IoT Edge solution workspace. This file tells the $edgeAgent to deploy two modules: tempSensor and CModule. The CModule.image value is set to a Linux amd64 version of the image. To learn more about deployment manifests, see Understand how IoT Edge modules can be used, configured, and reused.

  4. Add the CModule module twin to the deployment manifest. Insert the following JSON content at the bottom of the moduleContent section, after the $edgeHub module twin:

        "CModule": {

    Add CModule twin to deployment template

  5. Save the deployment.template.json file.

  6. In the VS Code explorer, right-click the deployment.template.json file and select Build and Push IoT Edge solution.

When you tell Visual Studio Code to build your solution, it first generates a deployment.json file in a new config folder. The information for the deployment.json file is gathered from the template file that you updated, the .env file that you used to store your container registry credentials, and the module.json file in the CModule folder.

Next, Visual Studio Code runs two commands in the integrated terminal: docker build and docker push. These two commands build your code, containerize the CModule.dll, and the push it to the container registry that you specified when you initialized the solution.

You can see the full container image address with tag in the VS Code integrated terminal. The image address is built from information in the module.json file, with the format <repository>:<version>-<platform>. For this tutorial, it should look like myregistry.azurecr.io/cmodule:0.0.1-amd64.

Deploy and run the solution

In the quickstart article that you used to set up your IoT Edge device, you deployed a module by using the Azure portal. You can also deploy modules using the Azure IoT Toolkit extension for Visual Studio Code. You already have a deployment manifest prepared for your scenario, the deployment.json file. All you need to do now is select a device to receive the deployment.

  1. In the VS Code command palette, run Azure IoT Hub: Select IoT Hub.

  2. Choose the subscription and IoT hub that contain the IoT Edge device that you want to configure.

  3. In the VS Code explorer, expand the Azure IoT Hub Devices section.

  4. Right-click the name of your IoT Edge device, then select Create Deployment for Single Device.

    Create deployment for single device

  5. Select the deployment.json file in the config folder and then click Select Edge Deployment Manifest. Do not use the deployment.template.json file.

  6. Click the refresh button. You should see the new CModule running along with the TempSensor module and the $edgeAgent and $edgeHub.

View generated data

Once you apply the deployment manifest to your IoT Edge device, the IoT Edge runtime on the device collects the new deployment information and starts executing on it. Any modules running on the device that aren't included in the deployment manifest are stopped. Any modules missing from the device are started.

You can view the status of your IoT Edge device using the Azure IoT Hub Devices section of the Visual Studio Code explorer. Expand the details of your device to see a list of deployed and running modules.

On the IoT Edge device itself you can see the status of your deployment modules using the command iotedge list. You should see four modules: the two IoT Edge runtime modules, tempSensor, and the custom module that you created in this tutorial. It may take a few minutes for all the modules to start, so rerun the command if you don't see them all initially.

To view the messages being generated by any module, use the command iotedge logs <module name>.

You can view the messages as they arrive at your IoT hub using Visual Studio Code.

  1. To monitor data arriving at the IoT hub, click ..., and select Start Monitoring D2C Messages.
  2. To monitor the D2C message for a specific device, right-click the device in the list, and select Start Monitoring D2C Messages.
  3. To stop monitoring data, run the command Azure IoT Hub: Stop monitoring D2C message in command palette.
  4. To view or update module twin, right-click the module in the list, and select Edit module twin. To update the module twin, save the twin JSON file and right-click the editor area and select Update Module Twin.
  5. To view Docker logs, you can install Docker for VS Code and find your running modules locally in Docker explorer. In the context menu, click Show Logs to view in integrated terminal.

Clean up resources

If you plan to continue to the next recommended article, you can keep the resources and configurations that you created and reuse them. You can also keep using the same IoT Edge device as a test device.

Otherwise, you can delete the local configurations and the Azure resources that you created in this article to avoid charges.

Delete Azure resources

Deleting Azure resources and resource groups is irreversible. Make sure that you don't accidentally delete the wrong resource group or resources. If you created the IoT hub inside an existing resource group that has resources that you want to keep, delete only the IoT hub resource itself, instead of deleting the resource group.

To delete the resources:

  1. Sign in to the Azure portal and select Resource groups.

  2. Select the name of the resource group that contains your IoT Edge test resources.

  3. Review the list of resources contained in your resource group. If you want to delete all of them, you can select Delete resource group. If you want to delete only some of them, you can click into each resource to delete them individually.

Delete local resources

If you want to remove the IoT Edge runtime and related resources from your device, use the appropriate commands for your device operating system.


Uninstall the IoT Edge runtime.

. {Invoke-WebRequest -useb aka.ms/iotedge-win} | Invoke-Expression; `

When the IoT Edge runtime is removed, the containers that it created are stopped, but still exist on your device. View all containers.

docker ps -a

Delete the runtime containers that were created on your device.

docker rm -f edgeHub
docker rm -f edgeAgent

Delete any additional containers that were listed in the docker ps output by referring to the container names.


Remove the IoT Edge runtime.

sudo apt-get remove --purge iotedge

When the IoT Edge runtime is removed, the containers that it created are stopped, but still exist on your device. View all containers.

sudo docker ps -a

Delete the runtime containers that were created on your device.

docker rm -f edgeHub
docker rm -f edgeAgent

Delete any additional containers that were listed in the docker ps output by referring to the container names.

Remove the container runtime.

sudo apt-get remove --purge moby

Next steps

In this tutorial, you created an IoT Edge module that contains code to filter raw data generated by your IoT Edge device. When you're ready to build your own modules, you can learn more about how to Develop a C module with Azure IoT Edge for Visual Studio Code. You can continue on to the next tutorials to learn about other ways that Azure IoT Edge can help you turn data into business insights at the edge.