In an earlier post, I looked at storing time-series data with TimescaleDB on Azure Database for PostgreSQL. To visualize your data, there are many options as listed here. Because TimescaleDB is built on PostgreSQL, you can use any tool that supports PostgreSQL such as Power BI or Tableau.
Grafana is a bit of a special case because TimescaleDB engineers actually built the data source, which is designed to take advantage of the time-series capabilities. For a detailed overview of the capabilities of the data source, see the Grafana documentation.
Let’s take a look at a simple example to get started. I have a hypertable called conditions with four columns: time, device, temperature, humidity. An IoT Simulator is constantly writing data for five devices: pg-1 to pg-5.
On a multi-tier deployment of Grafana, I added the PostgreSQL data source:
One setting in the data source is particularly noteworthy:
Grafana has the concept of macro’s such as $_timeGroup or $_interval, as noted in the preceding image. The macro is translated to what the underlying data source supports. In this case, with TimescaleDB enabled, the macro results in the use of time_bucket, which is specific for TimescaleDB.
Creating a dashboard
Create a dashboard from the main page:
You will get a new dashboard with an empty panel:
Click Add Query. You will notice Grafana proposes a query. In this case it is very close because we only have one data source and table:
Let’s modify this a bit. In the top right corner, I switched the time interval to last 30 minutes. Because the default query uses WHERE Macro: $_timeFilter, only the last 30 minutes will be shown. That’s another example of a macro. I would like to show the average temperature over 10 second intervals. That is easy to do with a GROUP BY and $_interval. In GROUP BY, click the + and type or select time to use the time field. You will notice the following:
Just click $_interval and select 10s. Now add the humidity column to the SELECT statement:
When you click the Generated SQL link, you will see the query built by the query builder:
Notice that the query uses time_bucket. The GROUP BY 1 and ORDER BY 1 just means group and order on the first field which is the time_bucket. If the query builder is not sufficient, you can click Edit SQL and specify your query directly. When you switch back to query builder, your custom SQL statement might be overwritten if the builder does not support it.
When you save your dashboard, you should see something like:
Now, let’s add a few gauges. In the top right row of icons, the first one should be Add panel. Choose the Gauge visualization and set your query:
In Visualization, set Stat to Current:
When the panel is finished, navigate back to the dashboard and duplicate the gauge. Modify the duplicated gauge to show humidity. Also change the titles. The dashboard now looks like:
Grafana can be configured to auto refresh the dashboard. In the image below, refresh was set to every 5 seconds:
Your dashboard will now update every 5 seconds for a more dynamic experience.
You can join hypertables with regular tables quite easily. This is one of the advantages of using a relational database such as PostgreSQL for your time-series data. The screenshot below shows a graph of the temperature per device location. The device location is stored in a regular table.
Here is the full dashboard:
Grafana, in combination with PostgreSQL and TimescaleDB, is a flexible solution for dashboarding your IoT time-series data. We have only scratched the surface here but it’s clear you can be up and running fast! Give it a go and tell me what you think in the comments or via @geertbaeke!