Best way forward? automations, smartapps, scenes

Been using smartthings for several years. Once upon a time there was smartthings, which became smartthings classic. then new smartthings. then importing from old to new. Once upon a time there was only SmartApps to control lights and there was light on and off as requested. And it was good. Now, there are automations, which don’t always trigger as needed. There are scenes, which don’t offer any triggers. And there are still SmartApps.

What is the best way to set up my house lights? I have a bunch of sunset-based rules/needs, and also I use mode/location a LOT (because I need to). Are SmartApps still the best way to go? Do I need automations or scenes? Fwiw, I also use Webcore for 2 minor things but I don’t relish the idea of switching everything to webcore.

Thank you for all opinions.

Best way is probably the official SmartLighting feature, as it’s the only option that runs locally at the present time. Assuming you’re in a country where it’s available.

After that, it’s dealer’s choice. There are lots of options, including the new rules api. Each method has pluses and minuses.

As far as triggering a scene, see the following:

FAQ: How to Run Scenes and Automations (New V3 App) (2020)

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I’ve never understood why it isn’t available in some regions.

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It rather depends on how you define ‘best’. My current approach is:

  1. Use the Rules API directly where possible for stuff that isn’t going to be changed. The problem at the moment is that it doesn’t seem to be fully documented.
  2. Use Automations to do things that are not yet documented in the Rules API (but must be possible as Automations use the Rules API) and for temporary use or things that need to be enabled or disabled easily. Treat any ‘options’ that don’t have a clear and obvious effect as simply not being there. Replace with direct use of Rules when can.
  3. Use Smart Lighting for things that cannot be done in Rules or Automations yet. The app is still good for typical lighting and switching applications that are more complicated than they appear. Replace with Automations or Rules where can. If it ever gets rewritten to use the Rules API treat it as an alternative to Automations.
  4. Use webCoRE where nothing else works or you can’t bear the thought of doing things the long way because you don’t have variables, arrays, loops etc to play with. Replace with Smart Lighting, Automations or Rules where can. I am currently very worried about webCoRE in the short term.
  5. Bespoke apps where all else fails.

Note this is simply how I do things. I am not suggesting it is suitable for everyone. In particular I don’t worry about local execution at the moment. That will come when it comes. As and when Automations become visible as Rules I may use them more - I like to know what things actually do.

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Thank you for your response. How do you use the Rules API directly? This is, I realize, a newbie question, but is there an interface for it, or does this involve creating programs/scripts (like Webcore), and in either case, where does one do this? A directional response would be great please.

Also, it appears that there is currently an issue with Automations updating sunrise/sunset times on a daily basis. This is why I"m in the market for a new method :frowning:

There’s a section in the forum for it. Note, however, that there have been changes over time and that the documentation is still incomplete. :disappointed_relieved:


IMHO, it is too early for a “newbie” to use the Rules API. There’s no interface for it and it isn’t baked yet (changes are coming). Consider it to be close to alpha/beta level software at best.

Thanks for sharing this content. I’ll be sure to keep an eye on this thread. Keep suggesting such info.