Hacker intrested in buying smart things w/ a few questions

Hello Everyone,

My name is Walker Smith and I am a highly skilled programmer. I am interested in buying SmartThings but had few questions before I committed to the purchase.

  1. What obvious problems do you have with your SmartThings?
  2. Is SmartThings hacker friendly ?(am I able to change the code to make it do what I want to)
  3. Does it provide a sufficient bang for its buck?

Thank you,

Everyone has different requirements, so you’ll get a lot of different answers.

SmartThings is a very flexible multiprotocol platform, but is NOT a completely open system. You will not have access to the lower layers of the platform, nor to the hub features themselves .( for example, the hub includes a Bluetooth antenna but it is not currently enabled and there is no way to use it at present. )

What it does have is a programming language (a groovy variant) and the ability to write your own device handlers and smart apps and upload those to run over the closed layers.

Even then, SmartThings can and does make backend changes that are neither fully documented nor announced in advance that sometimes break the custom code that community members have created. There’s no way to refuse or postpone these updates.

So it’s an enjoyable platform for hobbyists, but not really hackable the way I’m used to the term.

People have done a lot of very creative things with it, and in particular, it’s one of the easiest platforms to add new Zigbee, zwave, or open API devices to. But a lot of the platform features are black box, and you just have to accept what’s there.

So it just depends what your interests are. Have you had a chance to look at OpenHAB, and if so, what did you think?

Oh, and as far as obvious problems, just read through this category in the forum.


Obvious problems:
Reliability doesn’t exist.

Nothing community created can run locally including custom device types and smart apps. There is no time line for this, and as far as I can tell it’s not a priority for smartthings.

The scheduler repeated fails… in fact so much that they created a manual reset button for scheduled apps…which is ridiculous because it totally contradicts the company’s many statements about how it is Home automation driven… they do say that there is a new one coming out…but…until I see proof… Core functionality has been broken for way to long…

That said this is still Currently my favorite ha system to play with. It’s potential is large. But unless you want to lose your hair, don’t use it for security or anything where reliability is needed.

But I’m keeping my options open. I have a wink, vera, zstick, echo, oomi, and by the end of next week will have the new veraplus.and looking for the right system. They all have their ups and downs.

I think OpenHAB is probably a better starting point if you want full control and complete openness. SmartThings is actually a pretty good fit if you’re willing to get your hands dirty, and if you don’t mind changing your code to fix things when the ST backend changes. But as @JDRoberts said, it’s not fully open. If you want to have access to every corner of the system and you aren’t scared of the command line, OpenHAB is a better option.