A Feature is used to manage all data and functionality of a Thing that can be clustered in an outlined technical context.

For different contexts or aspects of a Thing different Features can be used which are all belonging to the same Thing and do not exist without this Thing.

Feature ID

Within a Thing each Feature is identified by a unique string - the so called Feature ID. A Feature ID often needs to be set in the path of a HTTP request. Due to this fact we strongly recommend to use a restricted set of characters (e.g. those for Uniform Resource Identifiers (URI)).

Feature properties

The data related to Features is managed in form of a list of properties. These properties can be categorized, e.g. to manage the status, the configuration or any fault information. Feature properties are represented as one JSON object.

Each property itself can be either a simple/scalar value or a complex object; allowed is any JSON value.

Feature definition

Ditto supports specifying a definition for a feature in order to document how a feature’s state is structured (in properties), and which behavior/capabilities (messages related to features) can be expected from such a feature.

A feature’s definition is a list of definition identifiers containing a namespace, name and version separated by colons: namespace:name:version. Thus the definition element can hold even multiple identifiers.

A Definition can be seen as some kind of type for features. The properties of a feature containing a definition identifier "org.eclipse.ditto:lamp:1.0.0" can be expected to follow the structure described in the lamp type of namespace org.eclipse.ditto semantically versioned with version 1.0.0.

Ditto aims to support contract-based development - by using feature definitions - to ensure validity and integrity of digital twins.


The following snippet shows a Feature with the ID “arbitrary-feature” and a definition with the sole identifier “org.eclipse.ditto:complex-type:1.0.0”:

  "arbitrary-feature": {
    "definition": [ "org.eclipse.ditto:complex-type:1.0.0" ],
    "properties": {
      "status": {
        "connected": true,
        "complexProperty": {
          "street": "my street",
          "house no": 42

Model specification

The feature model is the same for API version 1 and 2:

Vorto is an open source tool that allows to create and manage technology agnostic, abstract device descriptions, so called information models. Information models describe the attributes and the capabilities of real world devices. Source: http://www.eclipse.org/vorto/

Ditto’s feature definition may be mapped to the Vorto type system which is defined by so called “information models” and “function blocks”:

Information models represent the capabilities of a particular type of device entirely. An information model contains one or more function blocks.

A function block provides an abstract view on a device to applications that want to employ the devices’ functionality. Thus, it is a consistent, self-contained set of (potentially re-usable) properties and capabilities.

Feature Definition Model
One Thing can have many features. A feature may conform to a definition

Mapping Vorto function block elements

A Vorto function block consists of different sections defining state and capabilities (see also Eclipse Vorto’s documentation) of a device (in our case of a feature):

  • configuration: Contains one or many configuration properties for the function block.
  • status: Contains one or many status properties for the function block.
  • fault: Contains one or many fault properties for the function block.
  • operations: Contains one or many operations for the function block.
  • events: Contains one or many events for the function block.

Function block state

The configuration, status and fault sections of a function block define the state of a feature in Ditto.

They are mapped to a corresponding JSON object inside the feature properties which gets us following JSON structure of a Ditto feature:

    "feature-id": {
        "definition": [ "namespace:name:version" ],
        "properties": {
            "configuration": {
            "status": {
            "fault": {

The structure below configuration, status, fault is defined by the custom types of the Vorto function block. As these can be simple types as well as complex types, the JSON structure follows the structure of the types.

Function block capabilities

The operations and events sections of a function block define the capabilities or behavior of a Ditto feature.

Both are mapped to feature messages sent “to” or “from” a feature.

  • A message sent to a feature is mapped to an operation.
  • A messages sent from a feature is mapped to an event.

Vorto example

Here an example for a Vorto Function Block (in Vorto’s custom DSL) with the name Lamp. For the sake of giving an example for events this lamp has some additional capabilities like detecting movement and smoke .

 namespace com.mycompany.fb
 version 1.0.0
 displayname "Lamp"
 category demo	
 using com.mycompany.fb.Lamp ; 1.0.0
 using com.mycompany.fb.Color ; 1.2.0
 functionblock Lamp {
     configuration {
         mandatory on as boolean "this defines whether the lamp should be on or off"
         location as Location "the location of the lamp"
     status { 
         mandatory on as boolean "the reported on/off state"
         color as Color "the reported color of the lamp"
     events {
        smokeDetected {
            intensity as float <MIN 0.0, MAX 10.0> "the intensity of the detected smoke"
            mandatory critical as boolean "whether it is critical or not"
        movementAlarm {}
         blink(interval as int, duration as int) returns boolean "lets the Lamp blink in the interval for duration"
         stopBlinking() returns boolean "stops blinking lets the Lamp"
         changeColor(newColor as Color) "changes the color of the Lamp"

The Vorto function block contains all information required for a feature’s definition identifier in Ditto:

  • namespace: com.mycompany.fb
  • name: Lamp
  • version: 1.0.0

A feature containing a definition pointing to such a Vorto function block would look like this:

    "lamp": {
        "definition": [ "com.mycompany.fb:Lamp:1.0.0" ],
        "properties": {
            "configuration": {
                "on": true,
                "location": {
                    "longitude": 34.052235,
                    "latitude": -118.243683
            "status": {
                "on": false,
                "color": {
                    "red": 128,
                    "green": 255,
                    "blue": 0

The capabilities or behavior of this “lamp” feature would be defined as messages:

  • Message with subject smokeDetected which is sent FROM a feature containing a JSON payload with an intensity and whether the detected smoke has reached a critical mass or not.
  • Message with subject movementAlarm which is sent FROM a feature with no payload.
  • Message with subject blink which is sent TO a feature containing a JSON payload of an interval (as JSON number) and a duration (also as JSON number) returning a JSON boolean.
  • Message with subject stopBlinking which is sent TO a feature with no payload returning a JSON boolean.
  • Message with subject changeColor which is sent TO a feature containing a JSON payload which follows the type Color defined in another Vorto function block.
Tags: model