Event Bus

The openHAB framework provides an event bus for inter-component communication. The communication is based on events which can be sent and received through the event bus in an asynchronous way. Examples of openHAB event types are ItemCommandEvent, ItemStateEvent, ItemAddedEvent, ThingStatusInfoEvent, etc.

This section introduces the event API and illustrates how to receive such events. Furthermore, the sending of events and the implementation of new event types will be described.

API Introduction

The Interfaces

The EventPublisher posts Events through the openHAB event bus in an asynchronous way. The EventSubscriber defines the callback interface to receive events of specific types to which the event subscriber is subscribed. The EventPublisher and the EventSubscribers are registered as OSGi services. An event subscriber can provide an EventFilter in order to filter events based on the topic or the content. If there is no filter all subscribed event types are received. The event itself will be subclassed for each event type, which exists in the System (e.g. ItemCommandEvent, ItemUpdatedEvent, ThingStatusInfoEvent).

The Core Events

This section lists the core events provided by openHAB which can be divided into the categories Item Events, Thing Events and Inbox Events.

An event consists of a topic, a type, a payload and a source. The payload can be serialized with any String representation and is determined by its concrete event type implementation (e.g. ItemCommandEvent, ItemUpdatedEvent). The payloads of the openHAB core events are serialized with JSON. Each event implementation provides the payload as high level methods as well, usually presented by a data transfer object (DTO).

A topic clearly defines the target of the event and its structure is similar to a REST URI, except the last part, the action. The topics of openHAB events are divided into the following four parts: {namespace}/{entityType}/{entity}/{action}, e.g. smarthome/items/{itemName}/command.

The type of an event is represented by a string, usually the name of the concrete event implementation class, e.g. ItemCommandEvent, ItemUpdatedEvent. This string type presentation is used by event subscribers for event subscription (see chapter "Receive Events") and by the framework for the creation of concrete event instances.

The event source is optional and represents the name of the source identifying the sender.

Item Events

Event Description Topic
ItemAddedEvent An item has been added to the item registry. smarthome/items/{itemName}/added
ItemRemovedEvent An item has been removed from the item registry. smarthome/items/{itemName}/removed
ItemUpdatedEvent An item has been updated in the item registry. smarthome/items/{itemName}/updated
ItemCommandEvent A command is sent to an item via a channel. smarthome/items/{itemName}/command
ItemStateEvent The state of an item is updated. smarthome/items/{itemName}/state
ItemStateChangedEvent The state of an item has changed. smarthome/items/{itemName}/statechanged

Note: The ItemStateEvent is always sent if the state of an item is updated, even if the state did not change. ItemStateChangedEvent is sent only if the state of an item was really changed. It contains the old and the new state of the item.

Thing Events

Event Description Topic
ThingAddedEvent A thing has been added to the thing registry. smarthome/things/{thingUID}/added
ThingRemovedEvent A thing has been removed from the thing registry. smarthome/things/{thingUID}/removed
ThingUpdatedEvent A thing has been updated in the thing registry. smarthome/things/{thingUID}/updated
ThingStatusInfoEvent The status of a thing is updated. smarthome/things/{thingUID}/status
ThingStatusInfoChangedEvent The status of a thing changed. smarthome/things/{thingUID}/statuschanged

Note: The ThingStatusInfoEvent is always sent if the status info of a thing is updated, even if the status did not change. ThingStatusInfoChangedEvent is sent only if the status of a thing was really changed. It contains the old and the new status of the thing.

Inbox Events

Event Description Topic
InboxAddedEvent A discovery result has been added to the inbox. smarthome/inbox/{thingUID}/added
InboxRemovedEvent A discovery result has been removed from the inbox. smarthome/inbox/{thingUID}/removed
InboxUpdateEvent A discovery result has been updated in the inbox. smarthome/inbox/{thingUID}/updated
Event Description Topic
ItemChannelLinkAddedEvent An item channel link has been added to the registry. smarthome/links/{itemName}-{channelUID}/added
ItemChannelLinkRemovedEvent An item channel link has been removed from the registry. smarthome/links/{itemName}-{channelUID}/removed

Channel Events

Event Description Topic
ChannelTriggeredEvent A channel has been triggered. smarthome/channels/{channelUID}/triggered

Receive Events

This section describes how to receive openHAB events in Java. If you want to receive events "outside" openHAB, e.g. with JavaScript, please refer to the Server Sent Events section.

An event subscriber defines the callback interface for receiving events from the openHAB event bus. The following Java snippet shows how to receive ItemStateEvents and ItemCommandEvents from the event bus. Therefore, the EventSubscriber interface must be implemented.

public class SomeItemEventSubscriber implements EventSubscriber {
    private final Set<String> subscribedEventTypes = ImmutableSet.of(ItemStateEvent.TYPE, ItemCommandEvent.TYPE);
    private final EventFilter eventFiter = new TopicEventFilter("smarthome/items/ItemX/.*");

    public Set<String> getSubscribedEventTypes() {
        return subscribedEventTypes;

    public EventFilter getEventFilter() {
        return eventFilter;

    public void receive(Event event) {
        String topic = event.getTopic();
        String type = event.getType();
        String payload = event.getPayload();
        if (event instanceof ItemCommandEvent) {
            ItemCommandEvent itemCommandEvent = (ItemCommandEvent) event;
            String itemName = itemCommandEvent.getItemName();
            Command command = itemCommandEvent.getItemCommand();
            // ...
        } else if (event instanceof ItemStateEvent) {
            ItemStateEvent itemStateEvent = (ItemStateEvent) event;
            // ...

The SomeItemEventSubscriber is subscribed to the event types ItemStateEvent and ItemCommandEvent, provided by the method getSubscribedEventTypes(). A string representation of an event type can be found by a public member TYPE which usually presents the name of the class. To subscribe to all available event types, use the public member ALL_EVENT_TYPES of the event subscriber interface.

The event subscriber provides a TopicEventFilter which is a default openHAB EventFilter implementation that ensures filtering of events based on a topic. The argument of the filter is a Java regular expression. The filter method EventFilter.apply() will be called for each event on the event bus to which the event subscriber is subscribed (in the example above ItemStateEvent and ItemCommandEvent). If the filter applies (in the given example for all item events with the item name "ItemX"), the event will be received by the EventSubscriber.receive() method. Received events can be cast to the event implementation class for further processing.

Each event subscriber must be registered via OSGi Declarative Services (DS) under the org.eclipse.smarthome.event.EventSubscriber interface.

<scr:component xmlns:scr="http://www.osgi.org/xmlns/scr/v1.1.0" immediate="true" name="SomeItemEventSubscriber">
   <implementation class="org.eclipse.smarthome.core.items.events.SomeItemEventSubscriber"/>
      <provide interface="org.eclipse.smarthome.core.events.EventSubscriber"/>

The listing below summarizes some best practices in order to implement event subscribers:

  • To subscribe to only one event type openHAB provides the org.eclipse.smarthome.core.events.AbstractTypedEventSubscriber implementation. To receive an already cast event the receiveTypedEvent(T) method must be implemented. To provide an event filter the method getEventFilter() can be overridden.
  • openHAB provides an AbstractItemEventSubscriber class in order to receive ItemStateEvents and ItemCommandEvents (more information can be obtained in the next chapter).
  • To filter events based on a topic the org.eclipse.smarthome.core.events.TopicEventFilter implementation from the openHAB core bundle can be used. The filtering is based on Java regular expression.
  • The subscribed event types and the filter should be stored as class members (see example above) due to performance reasons.
  • If the subscribed event types are sufficient in order to receive all interested events, do not return any filter (in that case the method getFilter() returns null) due to performance reasons.
  • Avoid the creation of too many event subscribers. Similar event types can be received in one event subscriber.
  • Handle exceptions in event subscriber implementation and throw only serious exceptions. Thrown exceptions will be handled in the framework by logging an error message with the cause.
  • The receive method should terminate quickly, since it blocks other event subscribers. Create a thread for long running operations.

Receive ItemStateEvents and ItemCommandEvents

Due to the fact that receiving ItemStateEvents and ItemCommandEvents is a common use case, openHAB provides an abstract event subscriber implementation via the core bundle. The class org.eclipse.smarthome.core.items.events.AbstractItemEventSubscriber provides two methods receiveUpdate(ItemStateEvent) and receiveCommand(ItemCommandEvent) which can be implemented in order to receive and handle such events.

public class SomeItemEventSubscriber extends AbstractItemEventSubscriber {
    private final EventFilter eventFiter = new TopicEventFilter("smarthome/items/ItemX/.*");

    public EventFilter getEventFilter() {
        return eventFilter;

    protected void receiveCommand(ItemCommandEvent commandEvent) {
        // do something

    protected void receiveUpdate(ItemStateEvent stateEvent) {
        // do something

Send Events

Usually the core events are only sent by the openHAB framework. However, it is possible to sent events explicitly, e.g. ItemCommandEvents and ItemStateEvents. The Java snippet below illustrates how to send events via the EventPublisher. The openHAB core events can only be created via the corresponding event factory.

public class SomeComponentWantsToPost {
    private EventPublisher eventPublisher;

    public void postSomething() {
        ItemCommandEvent itemCommandEvent = ItemEventFactory.createCommandEvent("ItemX", OnOffType.ON);

    protected void setEventPublisher(EventPublisher eventPublisher) {
        this.eventPublisher = eventPublisher;

    protected void unsetEventPublisher(EventPublisher eventPublisher) {
        this.eventPublisher = null;

The EventPublisher will be injected via OSGi Declarative Services.

<scr:component xmlns:scr="http://www.osgi.org/xmlns/scr/v1.1.0" immediate="true" name="SomeComponentWantsToPost">
    <!-- ... -->
   <reference bind="setEventPublisher" cardinality="1..1" interface="org.eclipse.smarthome.core.events.EventPublisher"
           name="EventPublisher" policy="static" unbind="unsetEventPublisher"/>

Define new Event Types

openHAB provides the possibility to easily implement new event types and event factories.

Events can be added by implementing the Event interface or extending the AbstractEvent class which offers a default implementation. Both classes are located in the openHAB core bundle.

The following Java snippet shows a new event type extending the class AbstractEvent.

public class SunriseEvent extends AbstractEvent {

    public static final String TYPE = SunriseEvent.class.getSimpleName();
    private final SunriseDTO sunriseDTO;

    SunriseEvent(String topic, String payload, SunriseDTO sunriseDTO) {
        super(topic, payload, null);
        this.sunriseDTO = sunriseDTO;

    public String getType() {
        return TYPE;
    public SunriseDTO getSunriseDTO() {
        return sunriseDTO;

    public String toString() {
        return "Sunrise at '" + getSunriseDTO.getTime() + "'.";

The listing below summarizes some coding guidelines as illustrated in the example above:

  • Events should only be created by event factories. Constructors do not have any access specifier in order to make the class package private.
  • The serialization of the payload into a data transfer object (e.g. SunriseDTO) should be part of the event factory and will be assigned to a class member via the constructor.
  • A public member TYPE represents the event type as string representation and is usually the name of the class.
  • The toString() method should deliver a meaningful string since it is used for event logging.
  • The source of an event can be null if not required.

For more information about implementing an event, please refer to the Java documentation.

Define new Event Factory

Event factories can be added by implementing the EventFactory interface or extending the AbstractEventFactory class. The AbstractEventFactory provides some useful utility for parameter validation and payload serialization & deserialization with JSON. The classes are located in the openHAB core bundle.

public class SunEventFactory extends AbstractEventFactory {

    private static final String SUNRISE_EVENT_TOPIC = "smarthome/sun/{time}/sunrise";

    public SunEventFactory() {

    protected Event createEventByType(String eventType, String topic, String payload, String source) throws Exception {
        if (SunriseEvent.TYPE.equals(eventType)) {
            return createSunriseEvent(topic, payload);
        return null;
    private Event createSunriseEvent(String topic, String payload) {
        SunriseDTO sunriseDTO = deserializePayload(payload, SunriseDTO.class);
        return new SunriseEvent(topic, payload, sunriseDTO);
    public static SunriseEvent createSunriseEvent(Sunrise sunrise) {
        String topic = buildTopic(SUNRISE_EVENT_TOPIC, sunrise.getTime());
        SunriseDTO sunriseDTO = map(sunrise);
        String payload = serializePayload(sunriseDTO);
        return new SunriseEvent(topic, payload, sunriseDTO);

The listing below summarizes some guidelines as illustrated in the example above:

  • Provide the supported event types (SunriseEvent.TYPE) via an AbstractEventFactory constructor call. The supported event types will be returned by the AbstractEventFactory.getSupportedEventTypes() method.
  • The event factory defines the topic (SUNRISE_EVENT_TOPIC) of the supported event types. Please ensure that the topic format follows the topic structure of the openHAB core events, similar to a REST URI ({namespace}/{entityType}/{entity}/{sub-entity-1}/.../{sub-entity-n}/{action}). The namespace must be smarthome.
  • Implement the method createEventByType(String eventType, String topic, String payload, String source) to create a new event based on the topic and the payload, determined by the event type. This method will be called by the framework in order to dispatch received events to the corresponding event subscribers. If the payload is serialized with JSON, the method deserializePayload(String payload, Class<T> classOfPayload) can be used to deserialize the payload into a data transfer object.
  • Provide a static method to create event instances based on a domain object (Item, Thing, or in the example above Sunrise). This method can be used by components in order to create events based on domain objects which should be sent by the EventPublisher. If the data transfer object should be serialized into a JSON payload, the method serializePayload(Object payloadObject) can be used.