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Top 3 MQTT Desktop Client Tools in 2023

Shifan Yu
May 2, 2023
Top 3 MQTT Desktop Client Tools in 2023

Introduction

With the rise of MQTT as a standard messaging protocol for the Internet of Things (IoT), the MQTT desktop client is becoming an essential tool for developers to debug, test and develop IoT applications.

This blog post will explore the top 3 MQTT desktop clients in 2023 based on their features, project activity, and user experience.

  • MQTTX
  • MQTT Explorer
  • MQTT.fx

Comparison At a Glance

First, we compare the 3 top MQTT desktop clients in the following chart.

MQTTX MQTT Explorer MQTT.fx
License Mode Open Source (Apache License 2.0) Open Source (CC BY-ND 4.0) Commercial
GitHub Project MQTTX GitHub MQTT-Explorer GitHub N/A
GitHub Stars 2.6k 2.3k N/A
Latest Release v1.9.2 (Apr 29, 2023) 0.4.0-beta1 (Apr 28, 2020) N/A
MQTT 5.0 Support Yes Yes Yes
MQTT Connectivity Excellent Good Moderate
MQTT over TCP Yes Yes Yes
MQTT over TLS/SSL Yes Yes Yes
MQTT over WebSocket (WS) Yes Yes No
MQTT over Secure WebSocket (WSS) Yes Yes No
Multiple Connections Yes No No
Authentication (SSL) Excellent Good Good
Payload Format/Codec Hex, Base64 and JSON JSON N/A
User Interface Excellent (chat style) Good (topic tree) Moderate
Ease of Use Excellent Good Good
Compatibility Good Good Good
Community Support Excellent Moderate Moderate
Pricing Free Free Start from € 49,90 inc. VAT

Free Public MQTT Broker

Before diving into the MQTT client desktop tools, we need an MQTT broker to communicate and test. We choose the free public MQTT broker available on broker.emqx.io.

MQTT Broker Info

  • Server: broker.emqx.io
  • TCP Port: 1883
  • WebSocket Port: 8083
  • SSL/TLS Port: 8883
  • Secure WebSocket Port: 8084

For more information, please check out: Free Public MQTT Broker.

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1. MQTTX

MQTTX is an elegant cross-platform MQTT 5.0 desktop client that runs on macOS, Linux, and Windows. Its user-friendly chat-style interface enables users to easily create multiple MQTT/MQTTS connections and subscribe/publish MQTT messages.

MQTTX fully supports MQTT versions 5.0 and 3.1.1, MQTT over TLS, MQTT over WebSocket, and one-way and two-way SSL authentication. In addition to these essential features, MQTTX offers advanced functionality, such as customizable scripts for MQTT Pub/Sub simulation and support for codecs like Hex, Base64, and JSON payloads.

MQTTX is an open-source project developed with Electron and maintained by the EMQX team. The latest release is version 1.9.2 by the end of April 2023.

Official Website: https://mqttx.app/

GitHub Project: https://github.com/emqx/mqttx

MQTT Desktop Client - MQTTX

Features

  • User-friendly and easy-to-use UX design
  • Chatbox for sending/receiving MQTT messages
  • Fully support for MQTT versions 5.0 and 3.1.1
  • Support MQTT over TLS, and MQTT over WebSocket
  • Support for one-way and two-way SSL authentication
  • Hex, Base64, JSON, and Plaintext payload codec
  • Customized colors for different MQTT subscriptions
  • Customized script for MQTT Pub/Sub scenario simulation
  • Cross-platform, running on Windows, macOS, and Linux

Homebrew

brew install --cask mqttx

Download

User Experience

MQTTX offers a great user experience with a clean, intuitive chat-style interface and support for advanced features.

2. MQTT Explorer

MQTT Explorer is an open-source MQTT client tool that provides an easy-to-use graphical user interface (GUI) with a structured topic overview. It adopts a hierarchical main view and supports a visual chart display of received payload messages.

MQTT Explorer supports MQTT 5.0 and 3.1.1 protocols and allows developers to simultaneously create one MQTT/MQTTS connection.

MQTT Explorer is written in Typescript and developed by Thomas Nordquist. It’s cross-platform and can run on Windows, macOS, and Linux. It’s a pity that the project has been out of development since the last release of version 0.4.0-beta1 on April 28, 2020.

Official Website: https://mqtt-explorer.com/

GitHub: https://github.com/thomasnordquist/MQTT-Explorer

MQTT Explorer

Features

Quote from MQTT Explorer

  • Visualize topics and a dynamic preview of the change of topic
  • Delete the retained topics
  • Search/filter topics
  • Recursive delete topics
  • Difference view of current and previously received messages
  • Publish topics
  • Draw digital topics
  • Retain the historic record of every topic
  • Dark/Light topic

Download

User Experience

MQTT Explorer offers an impressive experience with a user-friendly GUI, structured topic tree, and payload data visualization.

3. MQTT.fx

Developed by Softblade GmbH, MQTT.fx is a commercial client tool commonly used to test IoT routes during development. It supports MQTT versions 3.1.1 and 5.0 and provides advanced features such as TLS/SSL encryption and extensive configuration options for MQTT connections.

However, while MQTT.fx has many powerful features, and it has some limitations to consider. For example, it only allows users to establish one MQTT connection at a time and lacks support for MQTT over WebSocket.

MQTT.fx is written in JavaFX and provides native installation packages for platforms including Windows, MacOS, and Linux. The price of MQTT.fx starts from € 49,90 inc. VAT, with a 3-month free trial period.

Official Website:

https://softblade.de/en/welcome/

MQTT.fx

Features

  • Predefined message template
  • Easy monitoring of broker status through system topic $SYS
  • Support for JavaScript scripts through Nashorn Engine
  • Support log display, display log information in the connection
  • Cross-platform desktop with support for Windows, macOS, and Linux

Download

User Experience

MQTT.fx provides a good user experience with an intuitive GUI with rich features. You can download the trial version and try it out for yourself.

Conclusion

In summary, a desktop client is critical for troubleshooting and developing MQTT. However, while MQTT Explorer is no longer maintained and MQTT.fx is a commercial and expensive option, other alternatives are available.

Among these, the MQTTX open-source project stands out as a fast-growing client tool that offers a modern chat-style interface, full MQTT 5.0 support, and a rich set of features that provides a great user experience. As a result, MQTTX is a top pick for the best MQTT desktop client in 2023.

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