FAQ: Creating Virtual Devices with the new architecture (Without the IDE) (2023)


Then life is easy. Several community members have created edge drivers (which run on your hub), and create virtual devices of many different types. There are regular simple on/off switches, momentary switches, virtual sensors of all types, virtual thermostats, even some other specialty devices. And there are virtual switches combined with virtual sensors which can be used to trigger Alexa routines. So lots of choices. There’s even one that lets you combine two physical devices, typically a tilt sensor and a garage door relay, into one virtual device that will look like a garage door, functionality that we used to have to do with a smartapp.

Different drivers have different features so you may want to look at several before deciding which to use, or use different ones for different use cases, but there are many community members now using each of the ones on offer.

To find them, go to the quick browse lists in the community-created wiki, and look for the virtual devices list.

FAQ: Using the quick browse lists without the community wiki


of course, the vast majority of smartthings users don’t have a hub, and this is where things get a little complicated. Many of them do still use virtual devices, particularly to trigger Alexa routines or to integrate with other third-party systems. We used to be able to create these just through the IDE whether we had a hub or not, but now that option is gone.

Officially, smartthings says they are still looking into possibilities for this, but there is no easy official feature at this time.

You can create a simple virtual on/off switch using the CLI which is a programmer’s tool for the new architecture, but that requires that you have a laptop, and are willing to get elbow deep into some code. And it won’t trigger Alexa Routines. :thinking:

Fortunately, a community member has created a webpage utility that, while more complex than using the IDE, is way simpler than using the CLI on its own and does not require that you have anything other than a mobile device. This option, called API Browser plus, will let you create simple on/off virtual switches or a virtual lock. And the virtual lock can be used to trigger an Alexa routine.

(And if you hate having to make the lock unlock when you’re in fact trying to turn something on, you can use a virtual switch with a routine so that when the virtual switch comes on, the virtual lock locks, so that the lock command gets hidden from the humans. )

SmartThings API Browser+ ... Now Available to All

So… There are some virtual device options for people who don’t have a hub, but there aren’t as many as there used to be in the old architecture, and they are more complicated to set up.

Hopefully, we will eventually get an official feature for creating virtual devices, which is easy to use and has more functionality. But we will just have to wait and see.


One more option, particularly if you need the virtual device to integrate with a third-party system, is to use a physical device which is visible to both systems as a proxy.

For example, I do this with a Tapo Matter over WiFi smart plug, which I use to proxy Geopresence between Apple HomeKit and smartthings.

No special coding is required. I just have a routine in HomeKit to turn on one of the smart plug when a particular person arrives home, and smartthings can see that socket come on and I can trigger smartthings events from that using smartthings routines.

This is a really simple method. You do have to buy an extra device, but it can definitely be useful for some situations.





In the case of Meross, they have one model line that works with HomeKit, and one for slightly less money that doesn’t, so if your goal was to get proxy integration with HomeKit, make sure you get the right model.

There are other brands that can do the same thing, or you might only need a single smart plug, there are actually quite a few devices to choose from for this method. :sunglasses:

The Tapo is a good choice if you want something that works with Apple HomeKit and smartthings.

Physical device proxy to trigger Alexa routines

If you want something that can be used as the “if” in an Alexa routine, it will probably have to be a device that works with a hue hub. At the time of this writing, these were the only actionable lights/switches that could be used to trigger an Alexa routine. Hopefully they will add more brands over time.

Of course, you might find it annoying if you use a white light bulb because it will be visibly on or off. So it might be worth spending a little more money and getting one of the smart plugs instead.

The Hue brand smart plug works fine for this purpose.



I haven’t confirmed that the UK version will work as an Alexa routine trigger, so if someone knows for sure one way or the other, please let us know.



Hopefully i didnt miss something JD but it is possible to create a virtual device within the Smartthings app, the option is hidden away in the ‘Labs’ section of the app

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Yeah, at the present time that is only available in the android version of the app, and only for some regions, and I’ve been told privately that it may be going through some changes. Also i don’t think it can trigger an Alexa routine. So I was a little nervous to put it up. But if it’s working for you, that’s great. :sunglasses:

Here’s what Labs looks like on an iOS device in the US. No virtual switch creator. :disappointed_relieved:

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I have used it and it acts like the original virtual device from years ago, the creation part even leaves an inventory of the names you give to the device, quite nostalgic really :grin:

And if you have multiple hubs the option whilst creating is there to choose a hub you wamt the virtual device on

It should be noted
Using this virtual device method at time of writing does not allow local control

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Just watched a great you tube video on new virtual switches creation and use this morning. By Automate Your Life. Even I can set them up now.

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Forgot to mention it is on one titled “these 12 edge drivers change everything.” Has some older videos on using virtual switches. This one is updated. Rest of it was useful for other major edge drivers. But the part on virtual put it all together for me. These 12 SmartThings Edge Drivers Change EVERYTHING! - YouTube

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A post was split to a new topic: Combine HomeKit with a SmartThings virtual device, maybe via Matter?