A server and a device communicate with each other in IoT Platform through topics. Topics are associated with devices, and topic categories are associated with products. A topic category of a product is automatically applied to all devices under the product to generate device-specific topics for message communication.

Topic category

To simplify authorization and facilitate communication between devices and IoT Platform, topic categories were introduced. A topic category is a set of topics within the same product. For example, topic category /${YourProductKey}/$ {YourDeviceName}/user/update is a set that contains the following two topics: /${YourProductKey}/device1/user/update and /${YourProductKey}/device2/user/update.

After a device is created, all topic categories of the product are automatically applied to the device. You do not need to assign topics to each individual device.

Figure 1. Automatically create a topic

Descriptions for topic categories:

  • A topic category uses a forward slash (/) to separate elements in different hierarchical levels. A topic category contains the following fixed elements: ${YourProductKey} indicates the product identifier; ${YourDeviceName} indicates the device name.
  • Each element name can contain only letters, numbers, and underscores (_). An element in each level cannot be left empty.
  • A device can have Pub and Sub permissions to a topic. Pub indicates that the device can publish messages to the topic. Sub indicates that the device can subscribe to the topic.


A topic category is used for topic definition rather than communication. Only topics can be used for communication.

  • Topics use the same format as topic categories. The difference is that variable ${YourDeviceName} in the topic category is replaced by a specific device name in the topic.
  • A topic is automatically derived from the topic category of the product based on the corresponding device name. A topic contains the device name (DeviceName) and can be used for data communication only by the specified device. For example, topic /${YourProductKey}/device1/user/update belongs to the device named device1. Only device1 can publish messages and subscribe to this topic. Other devices cannot use this topic.

Supported wildcards

To use the rules engine data forwarding function to forward device data, you must specify the source topic of the messages when writing an SQL statement. When you specify a topic in setting a forwarding rule, you can use the following wildcards. One element can contain only one wildcard.

Wildcard Description
# Must be set as the last element in the topic. This wildcard can match any element in the current level and sub-levels. For example, in topic /${YourProductKey}/device1/user /#, wildcard # is added next to the /user element to represent all elements after /user. This topic can represent /${YourProductKey}/device1/user/update and /${YourProductKey}/device1/user/update/error.
+ Matches all elements in the current level. For example, in topic /${YourProductKey}/+/user/update, the device name element is replaced by wildcard + to represent all devices under the product. This topic can represent /${YourProductKey}/device1/user/update and /${YourProductKey}/device2/user/update.

System topics and custom topics

IoT Platform supports the following types of topics:

Type Description
System topics

The system-defined topics. System topics cannot be modified and deleted. System topics include topics used by IoT Platform functions, such as TSL model-related functions and firmware upgrade.

For example, topics related to TSL models generally start with/sys/. Topics related to firmware upgrade start with /ota/. Topics for the device shadow function start with /shadow/.

Note System topics are not completely displayed in the Topic Categories list and the Topic List. For more information about function-specific topics, see related function documentation.
Custom topics You can customize a topic category on the Topic Categories tab page according to your business requirements. The topic categories you have customized for the product will be automatically applied to all devices under the product.