I want a rules engine, not apps


(Joe) #1

More and more I find myself wishing that SmartThings just gave me a simple interface for a rules engine. Trigger, Conditions, Actions.

I can code and have written a few smart apps for my own uses, but the approach is very tedious. The current app feels disorganized and it can be hard to troubleshoot issues. (what just made that light turn off!? I end up looking in 3 different places to see what is going on)

Why can’t it be simple to define a rule that says, when the time is 11:00 PM if both people are home then lock the front and back doors. I know I could figure out a way to make this happen, it’s just so far from easy and intuitive.

I want to define a rule by setting a trigger, conditions, and actions. I want to be able to easily see which rules are associated with any individual Things.

Sorry to rant. I love the potential that SmartThings has shown but I’m frustrated with the current reality. Hub v2 is exciting, but the current software/approach will only bring us so far.


Door sensor triggering different sets of lights depending on Mode
FAQ: Creating a virtual Device
Is there a way to turn off switch when there is motion ? Or is there already an app for this?
(Dan) #2

Agreed. The nested scheme for so many current devices and software are, IMHO, evidence of a “video game” programming approach. This is not a disparagement of the ST teams, since I think they’re great, but it is evidence of a programming syntax not best suited for home automation. I often see the ST team and other users pleasuring in the options at the expense of simplicity.

It is inconceivable to me that a single mother with three teenage kids would buy a system that required such an understanding to quickly and easily operate. Apple, Google, Nest, I think, understand this.


(Ben Edwards) #3

A rule-builder and SmartApps are not mutually exclusive. As mentioned in various other threads we plan to have both. Some SmartApps are and will be much too complex to build using a rule-builder. In fact, as soon as you get past basic nesting and conditional logic the integration face becomes c meets one in many cases. We are still working it but there is a reason it is IFTTT.com and not IFTATBNT.com (if this and this but not that).


The Fault in Our SmartThings Overall Architecture Logic – or how I learned to be confused by SmartApps and not-SmartApps
(Brice; SmartRulesApp.com) #4

I totally feel your pain. That’s why we built SmartRules, http://smartrulesapp.com. This is an iPhone/iPod app that enables the rule building that you’re describing here. We are currently beta testing and hope to release soon. You can sign up for updates on the site if you’re interested.


(Ben Edwards) #5

Super excited about this too. How come I can’t get in the beta? :slight_smile:


(Joe) #6

I want that! =)

Any chance you’re building it in a way that it will be easy to go beyond iPhone/iPod and have a web based UI or an Android app?


(Brice; SmartRulesApp.com) #7

I’m not sure about a web based UI, but an Android app is on the todo list, although iOS will get priority for now.


#8

I’m all in favor of both. But the first thing I want is full option zwave scenes as implemented in the published zwave standard. I don’t even care if the scene wizard can only include certified zwave devices, because with the exception of sensors, there are a lot of them. But I want to associate multiple actions from multiple devices using the standard parameters available for each device.

And I want to be able to trigger those scenes from any certified zwave secondary controller.

I understand the desire to be agnostic and support multiple protocols. Good. But support the protocol, don’t cripple it.

Ćolor zwave devices blue in the ST App and limit the scene wizard to blue devices for now. Turn more devices blue as you figure out how to include them.

As long as a Hello Home Action could include scenes created in the blue item scene wizard we’d lose nothing we have now and gain a whole lot.

You might have to say that only blue scenes that had no schedule limitations could be included in Hello Home Actions (since those apply their own schedules), but as long as the scene wizard let you copy an existing scene and you had a one click option to set a scene’s schedule back to the default any day any time, that would be doable.

But when I buy a hub that says it controls zwave devices I really, really want zwave scenes implemented to the published zwave standard.


(ActionTiles.com co-founder Terry @ActionTiles; GitHub: @cosmicpuppy) #9

This is a common wish, though the Community hasn’t been given an indication of where this falls on SmartThings’s priority list or road-map.

It pains me to bring up WigWag in any conversation because they are well over a year late of their Kickstarter delivery dates; but the #1 feature (yes, #1 feature) that attracted me to their proposed product was the description of their automation - programming environment. They created are in the process, still, of creating a new Javascript based language called “Device.JS”.

Here’s the link to their Kickstarter – I’ll leave it up to you to find more current information (you can page through their sad updates, but they also have a Community Forum (talk.wigwag.com) … I don’t know if they have released test versions of “Device.JS” to the public yet – oh… actually here is a link to their free and Open Source Device.JS web site: Device.JS.org

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/wigwag/wigwag-scan-it-control-it-rule-it-share-it


I wonder if an interim step for SmartThings (besides 3rd party options like @obycode), is to create a “Code Generator” for the IDE? While there are many unique, powerful, and super-creative SmartApps out there (created and shared by the Community!!!), a lot of code is reusable, redundant, templatable, fill-in-the-blanks… … Hmmm?


…CP / Terry.


(Brian Brewder) #10

It would be nice if there was an alternative to apps that was easier for non-developers to configure, I was a bit surprised after purchasing SmartThings that it didn’t work as mentioned by the original poster. As a developer, I’m happy with SmartThings (I have written a couple apps), but I can’t say my wife is too thrilled by it. I don’t think she will ever do any configuration on the system and doesn’t even want to use the app to control stuff (most things are either fully automated or work with a wall switch, and she is OK with that).

I think one of SmartThings biggest weaknesses is scheduling. It would be nice to be able to turn on a switch or set of switches based on a complex schedule. For example, I have a couple lamps I’ve got setup to turn on 1 hour before sunset, off at 1am, back on at 4am, then turn off 1 hour after sunrise. I had to use two very different apps to do that. If I wanted to add more on/off schedules I would have to add more apps. This does not rank very high on the WAF scale. Perhaps SmartThings can introduce a sheduling module that we can add to our apps?


(Ben Edwards) #11

Perhaps you should join the beta testing here:

http://smartrulesapp.com/


(Matthew Humphrey) #12

Agree 100%. There are many many things to like about SmartThings. I love that it has an open API, and that the company encourages 3rd-parties to develop apps. This was the reason I switched to ST from another platform. It’s nice to be able to develop apps, but in most cases, a simple rules engine would be sufficient. Developers that needed more could build plug-ins (conditions or actions) for the rules engine.

Also, the phone app UI needs some serious attention from someone who makes their living on usability and UI design. I find I sometimes can’t even figure out how to do something simple in that phone UI.


(Ben Goodman) #13

How long do we have to wait for this? Want it now!


(Brice; SmartRulesApp.com) #14

Not long! We’ve gotten some good feedback from the beta testers and are very close to release date. Hang in there.


#15

This may change my everything. I am as excited as everyone else. I signed up through the website (mail chimp).
I was about to box this up and return to Amazon. I hope soon means a few days.
Any hint of release date?


(Brice; SmartRulesApp.com) #16

Soon means we’ll be submitting to Apple within the next few days, then it should be approved for release within a week (or 2 worst case).


#17

Just to be clear, we’re talking about two completely different things here, right?

There’s the official rules engine being developed by SmartThings which is still in development, hasn’t opened its beta phase yet, and has no announced delivery timeframe. But will presumably deliver at least similar functionality with the V2 hub. In fact, it might only work with the v2 hub, we just don’t know. That’s what @Ben , who works for ST is talking about.

And then there’s a third party product developed independently by obycode to be released through Apple 's App Store which presumably works with the v1 hub but might have to be redone for v2 because it’s not an official ST product. And which most likely has to be purchased as a third party add on. Which will not be supported through SmartThings support. And that’s the one with the announced timeframe of “a few weeks.” That’s the one @obycode has been talking about, because obycode is the third party developer selling it.

So two different rule engines from two different sources with two different
timeframes. Only one of which will be supported officially. Right?


(Ben Edwards) #18

I was pointing to the Obycode app called SmartRules. It has an open Beta and will be released well before anything official from SmartThings. When we have a more official rule builder it will work on ANY hub not just hub v2.


(Brice; SmartRulesApp.com) #20

Right, we are a third party selling an app to enable this easy rule building functionality. It’d be great if SmartThings was building an official one, but unfortunately, I don’t think that’s happnening any time soon, so we are trying to fill that gap. We have a free version to try it out with one rule, and a paid version with unlimited rules. obycode will provide support and make sure that everything works well with the new hub, when it becomes available.


(Ben Edwards) #21