Lua hooks#

If Recorder is compiled with Lua support (which we do by default), a Lua script you provide is launched at startup. Lua is a powerful, fast, lightweight, embeddable scripting language. You can use this to process location publishes in any way you desire: your imagination (and Lua-scripting knowhow) set the limits. Some examples:

  • insert received publishes into a database of your choice
  • switch on the coffee machine when your OwnTracks device reports you're entering home (but see also mqttwarn)
  • write a file with data in a format of your choice (see etc/example.lua)

Run the Recorder with the path to your Lua script specified in its --lua-script option (there is no default). If the script cannot be loaded (e.g. because it cannot be read or contains syntax errors), the Recorder aborts with a diagnostic.

Configure lua_script: in our quicksetup configuration.yaml to have this enabled for you.

If the Lua script can be loaded, it is automatically provided with a table variable called otr which contains the following members:

  • otr.version is a read-only string with the Recorder version (example: "0.3.2")
  • otr.log(s) is a function which takes a string s which is logged to syslog at the Recorder's facility and log level INFO.
  • otr.strftime(fmt, t) is a function which takes a format string fmt (see strftime(3)) and an integer number of seconds t and returns a string with the formatted UTC time. If t is 0 or negative, the current system time is used.

Your Lua script must provide the following functions:


This is invoked at start of Recorder. If the function returns a non-zero value, Recorder unloads Lua and disables its processing; i.e. the hook() will not be invoked on location publishes.


This is invoked when the Recorder stops, which it doesn't really do unless you CTRL-C it or send it a SIGTERM signal.


This function is invoked at every location publish processed by the Recorder. Your function is passed three arguments:

  1. topic is the topic published to (e.g. owntracks/jane/phone)
  2. type is the type of MQTT message. This is the _type in our JSON messages (e.g. location, cmd, transition, ...) or "unknown".
  3. location is a Lua table (associative array) with all the elements obtained in the JSON message. In the case of type being location, we also add country code (cc) and the location's address (addr) unless reverse-geo lookups have been disabled in Recorder.

Assume the following small example Lua script in example.lua:

    local file

    function otr_init()
        otr.log("example.lua starting; writing to /tmp/lua.out")
        file ="/tmp/lua.out", "a")
        file:write("written by OwnTracks Recorder version " .. otr.version .. "\n")

    function otr_hook(topic, _type, data)
        local timestr = otr.strftime("It is %T in the year %Y", 0)
        print("L: " .. topic .. " -> " .. _type)
        file:write(timestr .. " " .. topic .. " lat=" .. data['lat'] .. data['addr'] .. "\n")

    function otr_exit()

When Recorder is launched with --lua-script example.lua it invokes otr_init() which opens a file. Then, for each location received, it calls otr_hook() which updates the file.

Assuming an OwnTracks device publishes this (shortened for clarity) payload


the file /tmp/lua.out would contain

    written by OwnTracks Recorder version 0.3.0
    It is 17:13:33 in the year 2015 owntracks/jane/phone lat=48.858339 Avenue Anatole France, 75007 Paris, France

Republishing HTTP posts#

OwnTracks location (and other type) publishes submitted via HTTP are not automatically republished to MQTT. Should you wish to do this, Lua hooks can help accomplish this. The following example illustrates how to do so.

  -- requires: 
  --   a) Compile recorder with -DLUA and configure
  --   b) OTR_LUASCRIPT = ".../repub.lua"
  -- also requires Lua JSON from

  JSON = (loadfile "/etc/ot-recorder/JSON.lua")()

  function otr_init()

  function otr_exit()

  function otr_hook(topic, _type, data)
      otr.log("DEBUG_PUB:" .. topic .. " " .. JSON:encode(data))
      if(data['_http'] == true) then
          if(data['_repub'] == true) then
          data['_repub'] = true
          local payload = JSON:encode(data)
          otr.publish(topic, payload, 1, 1)

There's more information on this with examples, including creating a per-JSON-element hook, if you're interested.