When choosing a workflow type, there are a few benefits of edge workflows to consider ...
- Since edge workflows execute on their deployed devices, network latency issues are mitigated. If a snap decision needs to be made locally on the device (for example, shut its attached machine down if vibration levels exceed a certain threshold), that decision is no longer dependent on the device having an internet connection.
- Any payloads that the device should send up to the Losant platform are queued and sent up the next time the device establishes a connection. This allows for devices to be deployed in the field where internet connectivity may be sparse; it also allows for battery conservation as the device needs only to connect intermittently to report its collected data.
- Edge workflows have a few special nodes that allow for reading and writing to the device's file system, executing scripts and interacting with connected devices such as Modbus.
The main limitation of edge workflows is a lack of functionality that is available within cloud workflows. For example, edge workflows cannot edit Losant resources or send messages through email or SMS (without using SendGrid or Twilio respectively).
Also, changing or removing an edge workflow from a device requires the device to have an internet connection, which means that workflows deployed to edge devices could continue executing until previously deployed versions until those devices establish a connection to the Losant platform.
There are a few configuration options that are different between cloud workflows and edge workflows.
You may still use the Storage: Get Value and Storage: Set Value Nodes in an edge workflow; however, the values are specific to each device where the workflow is deployed, and there is no way to tell what the current values stored on the device are. Therefore, the workflow storage tab offers no interaction for edge workflows.
When debugging edge workflows, it is necessary to choose a single device to view debug output from. This requires the device to have a version of the workflow deployed to it and to have an internet connection at the time you wish to debug. You may switch the selected device at any time.
Edge Agent Version
In order to utilize newly released edge workflow functionality (such as new nodes), it is necessary to upgrade your workflow's Edge Agent – and to deploy the new agent to your edge compute devices.
To do this, use the Edge Agent tab in the workflow editor. The upgrade can only be applied to the "develop" version. If you upgrade the Edge Agent version and make changes to your "develop" workflow, you will have to create new versions of the workflow before deploying them to your devices.
Saving and Deploying
Unlike cloud workflows, saving and deploying edge workflows are two separate actions, and saving a workflow is not enough to propagate the changes to your edge devices.
The "Save" button will be green whenever there are changes to your "develop" workflow version. When there are no pending changes, the button will be disabled. The button is only present when viewing the "develop" version and if you have edit permissions for the edge workflow in question.
Any version of an edge workflow can be deployed by clicking the "Deploy" button in the top right corner. This will display a configuration modal for which devices to deploy the selected workflow to. If you are viewing the "develop" version when the "Deploy" button is clicked, you will have to create a new version as part of the process.
More information on deploying edge workflows is available within the edge compute documentation.
Deleting Edge Workflows
Cloud workflows can be deleted directly by clicking the "Delete Flow" button at the bottom of the workflow's Properties panel. They can also be deleted by clicking the "Delete" icon in your application's workflow list.
Note that deleting an edge workflow - or a deployed version - will remove the workflow from all devices where it is deployed only once the device is connected to the platform. If the device is offline, it will continue to execute the workflow until it reconnects and receives the deletion message.