Subscriptions are used to report Notifications to the Client. Their general behaviour is summarized below. Their precise behaviour is described in

  1. Subscriptions have a set of MonitoredItems assigned to them by the Client. MonitoredItems generate Notifications that are to be reported to the Client by the Subscription (see 5.12.1 for a description of MonitoredItems).
  2. Subscriptions have a publishing interval. The publishing interval of a Subscription defines the cyclic rate at which the Subscription executes. Each time it executes, it attempts to send a NotificationMessage to the Client. NotificationMessages contain Notifications that have not yet been reported to Client.
  3. NotificationMessages are sent to the Client in response to Publish requests. Publish requests are normally queued to the Session as they are received, and one is de-queued and processed by a subscription related to this Session for each publishing cycle, if there are Notifications to report. When there are not, the Publish request is not de-queued from the Session, and the Server waits until the next cycle and checks again for Notifications.
  4. At the beginning of a cycle, if there are Notifications to send but there are no Publish requests queued, the Server enters a wait state for a Publish request to be received. When one is received, it is processed immediately without waiting for the next publishing cycle.
  5. NotificationMessages are uniquely identified by sequence numbers that enable Clients to detect missed Messages. The publishing interval also defines the default sampling interval for its MonitoredItems.
  6. Subscriptions have a keep-alive counter that counts the number of consecutive publishing cycles in which there have been no Notifications to report to the Client. When the maximum keep-alive count is reached, a Publish request is de-queued and used to return a keep-alive Message. This keep-alive Message informs the Client that the Subscription is still active. Each keep-alive Message is a response to a Publish request in which the notificationMessage parameter does not contain any Notifications and that contains the sequence number of the next NotificationMessage that is to be sent. In the clauses that follow, the term NotificationMessage refers to a response to a Publish request in which the notificationMessage parameter actually contains one or more Notifications, as opposed to a keep-alive Message in which this parameter contains no Notifications. The maximum keep-alive count is set by the Client during Subscription creation and may be subsequently modified using the ModifySubscription Service. Similar to Notification processing described in (c) above, if there are no Publish requests queued, the Server waits for the next one to be received and sends the keep-alive immediately without waiting for the next publishing cycle.
  7. Publishing by a Subscription may be enabled or disabled by the Client when created, or subsequently using the SetPublishingMode Service. Disabling causes the Subscription to cease sending NotificationMessages to the Client. However, the Subscription continues to execute cyclically and continues to send keep-alive Messages to the Client.
  8. Subscriptions have a lifetime counter that counts the number of consecutive publishing cycles in which there have been no Publish requests available to send a Publish response for the Subscription. Any Service call that uses the SubscriptionId or the processing of a Publish response resets the lifetime counter of this Subscription. When this counter reaches the value calculated for the lifetime of a Subscription based on the MaxKeepAliveCount parameter in the CreateSubscription Service (5.13.2), the Subscription is closed. Closing the Subscription causes its MonitoredItems to be deleted. In addition the Server shall issue a StatusChangeNotification notificationMessage with the status code Bad_Timeout. The StatusChangeNotification notificationMessage type is defined in 7.20.4.
  9. Sessions maintain a retransmission queue of sent NotificationMessages. NotificationMessages are retained in this queue until they are acknowledged. The Session shall maintain a retransmission queue size of at least two times the number of Publish requests per Session the Server supports. The minimum size of the retransmission queue may be changed by a Profile in OPC 10000-7. The minimum number of Publish requests per Session the Server shall support is defined in OPC 10000-7. Clients are required to acknowledge NotificationMessages as they are received. In the case of a retransmission queue overflow, the oldest sent NotificationMessage gets deleted. If a Subscription is transferred to another Session, the queued NotificationMessages for this Subscription are moved from the old to the new Session.

The sequence number is an unsigned 32-bit integer that is incremented by one for each NotificationMessage sent. The value 0 is never used for the sequence number. The first NotificationMessage sent on a Subscription has a sequence number of 1. If the sequence number rolls over, it rolls over to 1.

When a Subscription is created, the first Message is sent at the end of the first publishing cycle to inform the Client that the Subscription is operational. A NotificationMessage is sent if there are Notifications ready to be reported. If there are none, a keep-alive Message is sent instead that contains a sequence number of 1, indicating that the first NotificationMessage has not yet been sent. This is the only time a keep-alive Message is sent without waiting for the maximum keep-alive count to be reached, as specified in (f) above.

A Client shall be prepared for receiving Publish responses for a Subscription more frequently than the corresponding publishing interval. One example is the situation where the number of available notifications exceeds the Subscription setting maxNotificationsPerPublish. A Client is always able to control the timing of the Publish responses by not queueing Publish requests. If a Client does not queue Publish requests in the Server, the Server can only send a Publish response if it receives a new Publish request. This would increase latency for delivery of notifications but allows a Client to throttle the number of received Publish responses in high load situations.

The value of the sequence number is never reset during the lifetime of a Subscription. Therefore, the same sequence number shall not be reused on a Subscription until over four billion NotificationMessages have been sent. At a continuous rate of one thousand NotificationMessages per second on a given Subscription, it would take roughly fifty days for the same sequence number to be reused. This allows Clients to safely treat sequence numbers as unique.

Sequence numbers are also used by Clients to acknowledge the receipt of NotificationMessages. Publish requests allow the Client to acknowledge all Notifications up to a specific sequence number and to acknowledge the sequence number of the last NotificationMessage received. One or more gaps may exist in between. Acknowledgements allow the Server to delete NotificationMessages from its retransmission queue.

Clients may ask for retransmission of selected NotificationMessages using the Republish Service. This Service returns the requested Message.

Subscriptions are designed to work independent of the actual communication connection between OPC UA Client and Server and independent of a Session. Short communication interruptions can be handled without losing data or events. To make sure that longer communication interruptions or planned disconnects can be handled without losing data or events, an OPC UA Server may support durable Subscriptions. If this feature is supported, the Server accepts a high Subscription RequestedLifetimeCount and large MonitoredItem QueueSize parameter settings. Clause 6.8 describes how durable Subscriptions can be created and used.