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Important Martech Tool – Node-RED – Flow-based programming for the Internet of Things

This is interesting, Node-RED looks easy to use and should give us the ability to do a whole lot of interesting data amalgams that can provide next generation results for our clients. What’s it got to do with MarTech? It provides us an easy, fast way to do data mashups and more.  This will be an important tool in your arsenal.

The basics from their about page:

Node-RED is a flow-based programming tool, original developed by IBM’s Emerging Technology Services team and now a part of the JS Foundation.

Flow-based Programming

Invented by J. Paul Morrison in the 1970s, flow-based programming is a way of describing an application’s behavior as a network of black-boxes, or “nodes” as they are called in Node-RED. Each node has a well-defined purpose; it is given some data, it does something with that data and then it passes that data on. The network is responsible for the flow of data between the nodes.

It is a model that lends itself very well to a visual representation and makes it more accessible to a wider range of users. If someone can break down a problem into discrete steps they can look at a flow and get a sense of what it is doing; without having to understand the individual lines of code within each node.

Okay, this is basically for the gear heads in the audience.  For the rest of you, let me sum it up: this is a simple way to connect data nodes, then do “stuff” with them in new and interesting ways, using a graphical interface.  Hence it obscures much of the code.

Here’s a great video in which they import, store, and “do” stuff with a twitter feed.  Keep in mind, this could be any feed…think Google News, or something special for a client.

This reminds me of a more highly functioning version of the old Yahoo Pipes, which I used for several interesting projects to manipulate content and data.  Also, the whole interface is reminiscent of IBM’s BusDev Server for those how remember it.  Personally, I never really got that running, but that is another story.

The down side here is the new rush to privacy in light of the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica Debacle.  Where we had previously envisioned free flowing information from sites/devices, etc. now there’s a rush to get data sources locked down.  So we may soon find that our toasters won’t be tweeting every time we decide to have a bagel. It also means a whole lot less data for us to work with.

The great news is, it’s open source, so download, set it up on a docker install and see what you can create.  They bill it as “Flow-based programming for the Internet of Things” but I think even that name may be too restrictive.  I can’t wait to hear about the cool things you guys will build with this.

Mark has built an impressive career engineering, managing and owning high volume websites, content management and eCommerce sites.

As Director of Software Development at Lycos Inc. he managed all Domain Sales and ran the WebPub development team, which managed and,two of the top online publishing platforms in the world. {Prior to that he was  Senior Engineer for Afternic, an online multiple listing service for domain names, which was later sold to Godaddy for serious cash.

He has also worked as Senior Developer for Premium Websites  at NameMedia, Inc., and was previously the Corporate Webmaster for Atex, the primary supplier of software systems for the Newspaper Industry, and been in charge of Technology for Lenovo’s Online Marketing Department.

At NameMedia he built premium websites like,,, and more using WordPress as a content management and social networking platform.

He has previously written for the Worcester Telegram and Gazette, and in 2014 published his first novel, Blue Ice.

He started out on the net  in 1995 with Reel-Time, The Internet Journal of Saltwater Flyfishing, which he ran as Managing Editor, which was a combination of Lead/Only Developer and Lead/Only Editor.

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