New User Suggestions for SmartThings to Stay Ahead

OK - I am a geek, have been for 30 years. But the current state of SmartThings How-To’s, Easy Setup, Useable App UI, etc is NOT (in my humble opinion) ready for the masses. Without that approach, another company WILL disrupt the environment and take the lead - which after investing in SmartThings - I would rather not see happen.

My view of what is needed:

  1. Simple wizards to upload/install/delete smartapps from the many creative folks out there.
  2. Ability to change pictures for ALL items installed, AND name them (ie Back Door, etc). App is still VERY clumsy - I have to go into preferences to see which sensor I am dealing with (am I missing something???)
  3. Easy workflow for ‘One Button’ configuration - ie ability to connect sequences of events without having to think about it. This has been work for me to figure this out. Average Joe is NOT going to do what is required today
  4. Defining sequence of events by user
  5. Newbie and HowTo Stickies in the Forum. This is 2014. Seriously?

Just my 2 cents.


You can shake the device to see the labels for them from the Things view.

We have these but what in particular are you looking for?

Hi Ben - well for example - How To Install Code for a New SmartApp. How to for a variety of things - one touch house setup when you leave. How to organize location setups for when your wife arrives. Etc. Did I miss stickies like this?

Mainstream, non-techie folks are starting to buy your products. It should be easier than what it is. And why do I have to ‘shake’ my phone to see the labels???


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This forum is not directly customer support - it is community focused but some of that tyoe of things can be found here.

You can also check out the Support Site for some Knowledge Base articles.

That said, we know we have large gaps in some How-To Guides for some of the things you mention. We hope some of that is shown in the app’s “getting started guide” but we know many people skip thru that quickly when they first setup their home and so don’t read it all.

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Ben - I am a techie and have spent hours reading about your system and products. More time needs to be spent walking new users through your environment. I spent $900+ on products based around your system - it ‘aint’’ there yet.

You seriously need to spend more time on the front end of the customer experience. IMHO it is SEVERELY lacking. I’m not going anywhere - after a long investigation I believe your platform has the best chance of becoming the winner. I want to help and be a part of - but so far I have been VERY frustrated.

Hey Don,

Just wanted to follow up to your feedback and first of all say thank you. We routinely review feedback like yours as we look to improve the platform and experience.

If you have any questions or want another outlet to provide feedback shoot me an email at We have a couple things going on right now that should help:

  1. We’re in the midst of an overhaul of our knowledge base at
  2. We’re creating more rich media to walk customers through some of the basic experiences. Think screen casts. These will be web based and in-app.



+1. Exactly same experience for me!

As a newer techie user I have similar feedback to Don’s. But there are plenty of self proclaimed non-techies who are getting good with home automation and tech devices and apps in general. ST is especially good in that it lets users relatively harmlessly fumble around until they figure it out. Techies tend to buy a lot more devices and try to do it all at once which is a lot more work than the average consumer hooking up a single door lock will take on.

I didn’t know about shaking your phone to see the names of Things until I read this thread. I found the most difficult concepts to absorb were around finding Hello Home configuration options and figuring out how/where to find the smartapps for new things. A lot of inconsistency between things with regards to default smartapps suggested when you first configure them. Also the locations logic and navigation takes some time to find and figure out. Then again, I don’t read anything, I just dive in until it works.

If I had not been on vacation I would have never had enough time to get it all done. I think Don’s best suggestion is about wizards within the mobile app. Wizards or more suggested initial configuration smartapps options when things are added would probably be the most helpful feature for non-techie noobs and simply busy peeps.

This is good, but a simple wiki would also be very welcome. Currently, information is spread out across multiple forums, developer docs, support pages, etc. and is difficult to find.

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I have to throw my 2 cents in. ST is an evergreen platform. It is evolving based on the user requirements and needs in a growing market.

Support and documentation will always lag behind the innovation being done here. Some times you have to step back and look at what is working and not what is broken.

Support has been amazing so far. Development is happening behind the scenes, just end users can’t see it.

I just wanted to take the time to thank all the people at ST for their hardwork in bringing this platform to life. It ain’t perfect, it pisses me off sometimes, but ultimately, you are listening, engaging and we all need to be patient for every new innovation that will come.

Alpha means not working, Beta means broken and release used to mean working. ST is working for most things, but in this internet world we now live in, beta is the new world, and it doesn’t mean broken it means cutting edge.

Remember Gmail was in beta for what seemed like forever, didn’t stop average users from using it, despite some issues.

I’ll stop the love fest for now and go back to HEX converting IP addresses the right way :slight_smile:


ST is far from perfect but it is a great stride in the right direction when compared to the compatibility and extensibility of some of the other systems in the same price range.

Personally I think SmartApps need to eventually go away. When trying out new SmartApps from the community, I am already getting conflicts and overlapping functions. For example, I am testing out the new Smart Alarm app by @geko and in order to resolve redundant notifications I am having to go in and modify my previous dashboard alerts, etc. A newbie user would go nuts with this. This ain’t the Apple App Store and I think it should be more of a library model where you can do includes from other peoples code. ST should then take the contributed code and roll it into the core functions that doesnt disrupt the UI and so you don’t have to navigate 30 apps to change settings here & there to accomplish one routine.

I’ll reaffirm that I think the ruleset model is the most extensible and user friendly. IF this AND this happen THEN do this OR this AND this…blah blah. IFTTT has millions of recipes and users, I think people understand it.

Along those same lines, Smart Device Types should use the library model as well so you can say #include SmartSense library in your smart device and anytime the core SmartSense library gets updated by ST you dont have to update your own code.

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I think it would be smart to move all of the configuration out of each device/app and into a “Setup” screen. This would clean up the UI and get rid of all the crazy gears everywhere.

Yes agreed. But there is a reason we haven’t seen IFTTT do what you suggest yet (adding AND, OR, etc) it complicates the interface (and thought processes) immensely.

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I suppose. Perhaps I don’t see the big picture.

IF [door1 opens] AND [time is between 8am - 4pm] THEN [push notify Brian] AND [activate Siren1]

Wouldnt the backend simply nest the IF statements to check the door status and make sure its the correct time period then it would fire the actions in sequence?

Im probably missing something broad

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That would be fairly straight forward but that is one scenario. We need a tool to accommodate basically infinite variations of this — or maybe we don’t. Maybe it could could still be restrictive. More than anything we need time and people to be able to focus on this (and all the things)

@Ben Simple with limitations is far better then waiting for perfection and not having anything.

The simplest would be limit to if then only, no else and just allow custom variables to be set.

That way you can do pretty much any basic settings cascading through the ifs and setting variables and then ultimately doing what you need.

Later you can add all the complexity you want, loops, breaks, ANDs ORs, etc.

Just my two cents…

I can envision a simple tool, like mentioned above. Then, for more advanced options, there might be another too OR SmartApps. I think there needs to be a Basic offering and an Advanced offering, like many other tools I use. For example, our Sonicwalls have great, basic wizards that setup a lot for you. You can then delve into the actual config pages for the advanced options. I’ll think of a better example at some point over the next day or so.

Totally agree. One of my mantras is don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. We believe in releasing early and often. Iteration is king.


@Ben As long as the documentation exists, I’m all for alpha. Heck just an object model for functions would be ideal, or at least a breakdown of what is a coreAPI call and what isn’t so I can figure if I should be doing something or not…

A rule builder would go along way, but so would control proxies available to devices :smile:

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Ben - thanks for your responses and Tyler’s - I agree with you wholeheartedly - ‘don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good’.

It’s just the amount of time it takes learning your ecosystem is something I really did NOT want to become an expert in. I have too many of those projects already ongoing - first and foremost learning my new girlfriend’s foreign Operating System!