Lights & Switches

(Bruce) #1

@Ben, et al

There is widespread ignorance and misunderstanding about the functions available in Lights & Switches, the shortcuts. Over and over in the community people struggle to figure out how to do simple things, like turn on a light with motion for x minutes between this and that time.

I think there are two reasons for this: First, the entire functionality is hidden under a gear icon in part of the UI that isn’t even visible when you first get your hub. Before you even have Lights & Switches on your dashboard, you first have to find and install an app hidden under the + button. So this isn’t an obvious place to put functions as central to automation as the shortcuts in Lights & Switches. This is some of the real power of the platform – it should be much more visible, especially for new users.

Second, there really is no explanation for new users about the relationship of a shortcut in Lights & Switches (and other types of shortcuts in other areas of the Dashboard) to the devices that are controlled, which are in Things. Over and over in the community people are confused about this. Having set up a shortcut called “Dining Room”, when they want to add another function, the app tells them that “Dining Room” is already configured. So they get stuck. It is not obvious at all that one can have multiple shortcuts controlling the same device. Again, this is some of the real power in ST hidden from use.

It would help your customers a lot if these features were made more clear and understandable, which is a function of both the mobile app and the documentation.

(April Wong) #2

Thanks Bruce!

I’ll provide this feedback to the UX team.

In the mean time, while this is said, here’s some great references of the things you bring up! :



There must be something in the air…at about the same time @bravenel was writing this, I added two topics on Lights and Switches because, as Bruce says, it’s definitely not obvious how to use shortcut groups.




BTW, the article you link to above references Hello Home Actions. Not Shortcut Groups like “Lights and Switches.” HHAs and SGs are both smartapp schedulers, but have some significant differences. The fact that even ST staff answer Groups questions with HHA answers demonstrates the problem Bruce is talking about. It is confusing! :wink:


(April Wong) #5

Correct… It was something to assist, but not as an solution to what he brought up. I saw that you have shared something in the FAQ earlier this week, but in addition, again, this feedback has gotten back to the appropriate teams.

(Keith Croshaw) #6

I have to agree, I consider myself a power user, not a true developer, but I find myself writing smartapps for things that might be available in these “shortcuts” because I don’t know they exist. I still really don’t know what controls adding things to the “Dashboard” Screen. I just see screenshots of other people’s set up and say, oh there’s a motion “card, or whatever you call the Dashboard tiles.” Once a user adds a device that could be displayed there it should appear…

Major confusion, and Hello Home confuses me too… Sorry to rant…

(Bruce) #7

ST was being too cute in the UI design. All of these things, Hello Home phrases, shortcuts, are just little pre-written SmartApps for obvious basic things. Hello Home phrases get their own bizarre little UI treatment, and actually do have one API level feature, namely that you can get a list of them within an app, and launch one from within an app.

(Keith Croshaw) #8

Yea I think I understand it now, but for example how would I if I were a new user know that Battery Notifications could be found under Hello Home? My first understanding of HH was it was a place to say some weird statement that would change the mode, which I could just do in the mode section with the same amount of clicking or tapping if you will.

I think they should just nuke the whole UI/UX and start over, the infrastructure is getting pretty reliable, and I like the new Rule Based apps that are coming out (1 web based and 1 app based.)

(Alex) #9

Amen to that!
and 20 characters

(April Wong) #10

@keithcroshaw :slight_smile: We are! I’ll be honest, I got a sneak peak on our ux, and I love the direction it is headed in, the user flow is more intuitive, and certainly incorporates a lot of what people have been voicing on here. We’ve mentioned along the time frames of Hubv2 is also a ux/ui refresh.

(Geko) #11

You’re such a teaser. :slight_smile:

(Keith Croshaw) #12

That’s great news! I think I mentioned this a little while ago and there were many naysayers that an update wouldn’t be coming, so I’m very excited to hear.

Hopefully nice and streamlined and Flat UI like :wink:

(April Wong) #13

I wish I can stream everything using google glass to be subtle and have you guys see everything we do. Something tells me that breaks nda. (although, the google glass is hardly subtle…)

I really don’t want to be a tease, and wish I’m able just show everything. I think they’re on to me though: I don’t even have access it to it, and only got a workflow demonstration. Again, super impressed, and I can’t wait for its release :stuck_out_tongue:

(Steve Knight) #14

one thing I have not figured out who to do is have one light turn on at 10% while the others come on at 60%
ok I have a remote that I use when we get out of bed turns on most of the lights and unlocks the door. But I want one light to come on at 10% not 60% like all of the others. when I perform the good morning action it also changes the mode to home. but I haven to figured out who to get the light to come on with that change. If I change it to a hue club I can do it I think but any other way?


You can do it with the custom Dim and Dimmer smartapp from @wackware if that meets your use case.

(Bruce) #16

Just use two separate shortcuts in Lights & Switches, or two separate Hello Home phrases, as the case may be.


It’s easy to set up dim instructions that way, but OP wants to trigger them from a Minimote.

Can you assign two different Hello Home Actions to the same Minimote button?

As far as I know, you can’t assign shortcut groups to a Minimote button at all, let alone two different ones, or am I wrong on that?

(Steve Knight) #18

it is easy to do it with the remote but I want to to happen when I turn on all of the lights automatically. right now I click on the button to get the lights on then hold it down to get the 10% light to come on but it would be nice to only do it once as I forget to do the button a second time. how do you get more smartapps?


Two ways.

  1. official smartapps Some smart apps have been officially “published” by ST and are available with set up wizards through the regular mobile app.

1A) open the mobile app and go to the dashboard.
1B) tap the plus sign. You will see the black Things where you can add a new device, but that’s not what you want.
1C) scroll right at the top of the screen. You will find SmartApps under both ACTIONS and (more scrolling) MORE. There will be an install wizard to install it.

  1. unofficial community contributed smartapps

Find someone who has coded a smartapp you want to use and cut and paste it into the IDE using their instructions. You will usually find discussion in the forums here by the author, so you just have to search for the topic you’re interested in. Like the Dim and dimmer topic I linked to above.

(Bruce) #20

Sorry, I missed the Minimote part. I have a modified version of Button Controller app that allows two dimmer levels to be set from one button push. That app is called Scene Controller, and it is an extended version of Button Controller. Found here:


Scene Controller does not implement all of the choices of Button Controller (no Locks, Sonos, Sirens, Custom Message, Push Notifications, or Sms Notifications). However it adds Lights to Toggle, Lights to Turn On, Lights to Turn Off, Lights to Dim Level 1, Lights to Dim Level 2, and Fan Speed Adjust. It also allows a Momentary Button Tile to be associated with any of the 8 buttons on the Minimote so that the button action can be triggered by pushing that momentary button. This allows a Lights & Switches shortcut or Hello Home phrase to activate the same set of things that pushing the Minimote button does.