FlowFuse Concepts

FlowFuse makes it easy to create and manage Node-RED instances. To do that, there are a few concepts the platform introduces to help organise things. Within FlowFuse, users are members of Teams. Each team can create Applications that are collections of one or more Node-RED instances. Each instance is created from a Template to provide its default settings and runs on a Stack that determines the Node-RED version, memory, and CPU usage. Devices can be assigned to an instance and have flows automatically deployed to them when snapshots are created of the instance.


Teams are how FlowFuse organises the user on the platform. Each team can have multiple members and each user can be a member of multiple teams.

The users in a team can have different roles that determine what they are able to do.

In FlowFuse Cloud, each team has its own billing plan, managed via Stripe.

Team Type

The platform can be configured to provide different types of teams. These can be used to apply limits on what teams of a given type can do. For example, a particular team type may be restricted to certain types of Node-RED Instance, or how many members the team can have.


Introduced in FlowFuse 1.5

To organise your Node-RED instances, they are grouped with Applications.

With the 1.5 release, each Application has a single Node-RED instance. With the 1.6 release, an application can have multiple Node-RED instances.

DevOps Pipeline

Introduced in FlowFuse 1.8

DevOps Pipelines allow you to manage staged development environments. Pushing from your Development instances to Production once you have stable and well tested, flows. You can find out how to implement DevOps Pipelines here

What is the difference between an Instance and a Device?

At FlowFuse, we make a distinction between Instances and Devices in our terminology, even though both refer to Node-RED environments. The key difference lies in where these environments run. An Instance runs within the FlowFuse infrastructure, benefiting from our platform's seamless integration and management capabilities. In contrast, a Device refers to a Node-RED environment managed by FlowFuse but running on a different infrastructure—be it a PLC, Gateway, local PC, or even a server in a different network.


This was called a Project before FlowFuse 1.5

Within your Application, you can have one or more Instances of Node-RED.

The Instance is a customised version of Node-RED that includes various FlowFuse plugins to integrate it with the platform.

A number of the standard Node-RED settings are exposed for customisation, and they can be preset by applying a Template when creating the Instance.

When an instance is being created, the user can select a blueprint to use. This blueprint is a combination of modules and flows that are pre-set to give the user a head start in their development. Blueprints are created by the platform Administrator and can be limited to specific team tiers.

When running in Docker or Kubernetes (such as FlowFuse Cloud), the instance names are used as the hostname to access the instance. This means that the names must be DNS safe (made up of a-z, 0-9 and -) and not start with a number. Currently, it is not possible to change an instance name after it has been created.

Within the instance there are some further concepts to learn about.

Instance Type

When you create a Node-RED instance, you can pick its type from the list the platform Administrator has made available. For example, each type could provide a different amount of memory or CPU allocation.

If the platform has billing enabled, each type may have a different monthly price associated with it.


A Stack describes the properties of the Node-RED runtime. This can include the version of Node-RED, memory, and CPU allocation. The specific details will depend on how and where FlowFuse is running.

Stacks are created and owned by the platform Administrator. When a User comes to create a new Node-RED instance, they chose from the available stacks associated with the chosen Instance Type.

For details on how to administer and manage Stacks, please see the Administering FlowFuse docs.


A Template describes the properties of Node-RED itself. It is how many of the settings a user familiar with Node-RED would be used to modify in their settings file. But it can also be used to customise the palette of nodes that are pre-installed, provide a set of default flows and change the look and feel of the editor.

A template can also specify Environment Variables which can then have their values customised for each Node-RED instance, or have their values locked to prevent any changes.

In the current release of FlowFuse, Templates are created by the Administrator. As well as defining the values, they also get to choose whether instances can override any of the settings for themselves.

Instance Snapshot

A snapshot is a point-in-time backup of a Node-RED instance. It captures the flows, credentials and runtime settings.

Snapshots can be created (and deleted) on the FlowFuse dashboard, or using the FlowFuse Node-RED Tools plugin.

The dashboard also allows you to roll an instance back to a previous snapshot.

Device Snapshot

Similar to instance snapshots, a device snapshot is a point-in-time backup of a Node-RED instance running on a device. It captures the flows, credentials, and runtime settings. The difference is that local changes made on a device during developer mode are pulled into the FlowFuse platform and stored as a snapshot.

The dashboard also allows you to see and manage these snapshots.


The FlowFuse platform can be used to manage Node-RED applications running on remote devices. A Device runs a software agent that connects back to the platform to receive updates. Users must install the agent on the devices.

Devices are registered to a Team and then assigned to an individual Node-RED instance or a FlowFuse application within that team.

A user can create an instance snapshot and then mark it as the target snapshot for devices. The platform will then deploy that snapshot to all of the devices assigned to the instance.

With devices assigned to an application, a user can create a device snapshot from the remote device.

To further simplify device registration, Provisioning Tokens can be created to allow devices to automatically connect to a team without having to manually register them first. The token can also be configured to assign a device directly to a Node-RED instance within the team.

Device Groups

Introduced in FlowFuse 1.15

Device groups allow you to organise your Application devices into logical groups. These groups can be the target of DevOps Pipelines greatly simplifying the deployments to one or hundreds of devices.

Read more about Device Groups.