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The Ditto Protocol defines a Topic for each Protocol message having following structure:


Examples for valid topic paths are:

  • org.eclipse.ditto/fancy-car-1/things/twin/commands/create
  • org.eclipse.ditto/fancy-car-23/things/twin/commands/merge
  • org.eclipse.ditto/fancy-car-0815/things/live/events/modified
  • org.eclipse.ditto/fancy-car-23/things/twin/search
  • org.eclipse.ditto/fancy-car-42/things/live/messages/hello.world
  • org.eclipse.ditto/fancy-policy-1/policies/commands/create
  • org.eclipse.ditto/fancy-policy-1/policies/commands/delete
  • org.eclipse.ditto/fancy-policy-1/policies/announcements/subjectDeletion


The entity’s namespace in which the entity is located.

Entity Name

The entity’s name (e.g. a Thing Name) to address.


The {group} contains which type of entity should be referenced with the Protocol message.

Things Group

Addressing the things group in the topic path indicates that a Thing entity is targeted which means that the entity identifier in the first two segments should be treated as Thing ID.

Policies Group

Addressing the policies group in the topic path indicates that a Policy entity is targeted which means that the entity identifier in the first two segments should be treated as Policy ID.


The {channel} specifies whether the Protocol message is addressed to the digital twin, to the actual live device or to none of both.

Twin channel

When addressing the twin channel, the {criterion} (e.g. a command) together with the optional {action} is applied to the digital representation, the digital twin, of a Thing. Ditto enforces that digital twins can only be accessed in an authorized way and responds with an error if the required permissions are not met. Addressing on the twin channel means addressing the backend representation of a Thing which might be outdated, but roundtrips to actual devices are saved (e.g. a device in sleep mode must not be waken up in order to retrieve its last reported state).

Protocol messages with the search {criterion} are only possible on the twin channel as the search is done on the server side representation of all digital twins.

Live channel

When addressing the live channel, the {criterion} (e.g. a Command) together with the optional {action} is applied to the actual device. Ditto also enforces for the live channel that Protocol messages are authorized and blocks unauthorized access to a Thing by responding with an error.

Protocol messages with the messages {criterion} are only possible on the live channel as Ditto only acts as a broker of connected actual devices.

No channel

Some commands (e.g. Policy commands) are not related to an actual device and thus have no associated twin. For these commands the twin/live semantics does not fit and consequently they have no channel assigned in the Topic of the Ditto Protocol message.

For example a CreatePolicy command has the following Topic: <namespace>/<policyName>/policies/commands/create


The {criterion} segment contains the type of action of the Protocol message in the specified entity {group} and on the defined {channel}.

Commands criterion

commands are sent to Ditto in order to do something, either on the digital twin or on a real connected device.
They are separated in ModifyCommands for creating, modifying, deleting and QueryCommands for retrieving.

For each command Ditto processed a command response is created. This command response indicates whether the command was successfully applied or if an error occurred while processing the command. Command responses have the same topic path as the commands which they answer to.

Events criterion

events are emitted by Ditto for each command which successfully modified an entity.
Each ModifyCommand causes a specific Event type to be published for which interested parties can subscribe themselves.

Search criterion

search requests can only be put on the twin channel.
They contain a query string defining on which data to search in the population of all digital twins. Ditto respects the authorization information while searching for the requested data and returns the search result as paged list of search hits.

Messages criterion

messages are always exchanged via the live channel.
They carry a custom payload and can be answered by another, correlated message.

Errors criterion

errors are returned for commands which could not be executed due to client errors or internal server errors. They contain a status integer which reflects an HTTP status code with the same semantics as in HTTP.

Acks criterion

Commands can specify a number of acknowledgements (ACKs) which have to be successfully fulfilled to regard the command as successfully executed.

acks can be returned in response to events which have defined in their headers, that specific acknowledgement labels were required by the issuing command.
Acks contain a status integer which reflects a status code with the same semantics as in HTTP, reflecting whether the ack was successful (2xx status range) or not (4xx or 5xx status range).
Acks contain headers which include at least the correlation-id of the command/event to acknowledge, and optionally contain a custom payload.

Announcement criterion

announcements are published by Ditto prior to an event taking place.
They are created by Ditto and are e.g. published a configured amount of time before an event will likely happen.

Action (optional)

For command, event, and messages criteria, additional actions are available, which further distinguish the purpose of a Protocol message.

Command criterion actions

Requests to

  • create,
  • retrieve,
  • modify,
  • merge or
  • delete

an entity or an aspect of an entity.

Event criterion actions

An entity (e.g. a Thing) or an aspect of an entity was

  • created,
  • modified,
  • merged or
  • deleted.

Messages criterion actions

For the messages criterion, the action segment specifies the message subject, and can be freely chosen by the sender, provided that it conforms to RFC-3986 (URI).

Search criterion actions

The action of a command or an event of the search protocol is

  • subscribe,
  • request,
  • cancel,
  • created,
  • next,
  • complete, or
  • failed.

Acknowledgement criterion actions

For acks criterion, the action segment specifies the identifier, which is defined by the system which issued the ACK. The criterion has to match the regular expression [a-zA-Z0-9-_:]{3,100}, i.e. letters of the Latin alphabet, numbers, dashes, and underscores.

Announcement criterion actions

For the announcement criterion, the action segment specifies the announcement name.

Tags: protocol