Newbie with basic app questions

After about 3 weeks I now have most of my initial 20+ smart devices installed and except for a few they had native integration to ST which was great. However there were a couple (myQ garage door opener and Orbit lawn irrigation) that remain independent but operate well through their own app. I have read the complex (to me anyway) smart app creation posted in the Community for the myQ device but quite frankly it is beyond me at this stage (originally posted in 2019 and people have commented some of it has changed now?). So my questions/comments are as follows:

  1. Why do major device brands NOT include native ST or even Alexa integration when others do and there is a clear interest to do so?
  2. For us non techies why are there not app developers that are selling those integrations from the ST App Store as opposed to having to develop or even go through multiple steps in following someone else’s work (I think there were over 30 steps in the original 2019 myQ process posted)?
  3. As I am very new to this and just starting to pick up on some of the terminology let alone the process I was hoping for just some basic apps that I could get (like Apple Store Apps) to handle simple commands and work with ST and Alexa to turn on/off (open garage door/close garage door). Is there anything like this available and ready to go without all the many steps I have reviewed?
    I realize that most people in this ST Community are more technical when it comes to creating their own Smart Apps and may think I should have stayed with Alexa as my hub but I have read quite a few frustrated members like me. If there are no “simple” ST apps I will have to accept this is the way it is. So any comments to my concerns are greatly appreciated or pointing to study guides or detailed tutorials equally appreciated.

Good questions, but there are no universal answers.

  1. Why do major device brands NOT include native ST or even Alexa integration when others do and there is a clear interest to do so?

This is just a business decision. Companies have to weigh the potential increase number of sales by providing these integration versus their own additional costs for customer support and complexity that those integrations will introduce. Some companies decide to go ahead with it, some don’t. The best way you can influence this is by contacting the individual companies and letting them know that smartthings integration would make a difference to you in your purchase decisions. But there are some companies, and Chamberlain is one, that already have tens of millions of customers. They don’t need to add smartthings integration to get what for them would be just a few more sales.

And remember, a commitment to integration is not just a one time thing. Smartthings frequently changes their platform architecture, requiring integrations to have to be modified or even redone entirely. That’s a lot of work, and there are some companies, such as Fibaro, who have said straightforwardly it’s just not worth it to them.

  1. For us non techies why are there not app developers that are selling those integrations from the ST App Store as opposed to having to develop or even go through multiple steps in following someone else’s work (I think there were over 30 steps in the original 2019 myQ process posted)?

The short answer is that Samsung has never made it possible for independent third-party coders to easily monetize their work. They promised that they would look into it going back at least six years, but it just has never happened. And because of the way smartthings has worked up until now, using a non-compiled language, as soon as one person has the code they can share it openly with as many people as they want, even though it might be against the license to do so. :face_with_hand_over_mouth: so there’s just not a lot of incentive for people who actually make their living doing this kind of work.

There are a few third-party developers, including @rboy and @yvesracine , Who do offer paid license add-ons, and some of these have become very popular, but they are typically for a very sophisticated complex coding projects that would be just not worth the trouble for most people to try to steal. And even so you have to go through all the various steps of installation to get it into your own account.

  1. As I am very new to this and just starting to pick up on some of the terminology let alone the process I was hoping for just some basic apps that I could get (like Apple Store Apps) to handle simple commands and work with ST and Alexa to turn on/off (open garage door/close garage door). Is there anything like this available and ready to go without all the many steps I have reviewed?

The first rule of home automation always applies: “the model number matters.“ There will be some devices where you will be able to use the built-in rules creator in the smartthings app and it will do everything you want. But as soon as you start talking about third-party devices, and particularly third-party devices which have significant safety considerations like garage door openers, it all gets much more complex. The device manufacturers tend to lock down their devices in order to protect their own customers from hurting themselves with code that doesn’t have appropriate safety features built-in. This has been the argument that Chamberlain has used for their garage door controllers.

The other issue is that some third-party platforms, and users of smartthings are infamous for doing this :rage:, which will set up all kinds of polling and other automated Scripts which can just hammer the third-party system with way too many requests compared to what their own customers typically do. A few years ago, Chamberlain shut down one smartthings integration for exactly this reason: people who wanted to know if their garage door was left open were checking the chamberlain servers literally thousands of times a day. That was affecting their resources and their ability to service their other customers.

Chamberlain does offer third-party integration through Ifttt, although one point they were charging about $25 a year for it, I don’t know if they still do.

Smartthings does not charge anything for using Ifttt, so that’s good.

However, Ifttt used to be free and now you have to pay a monthly fee for it if you have more than three rules there.

So there may be multiple fees involved, but Ifttt is often the closest to what you have described: a simple way to link devices from two different services.

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But again, the first rule of home automation applies: this method may work for some models but not for others. And it may not expose all of the features of a device, just the ones that the manufacturer is willing to offer through the integration.

If there are no “simple” ST apps I will have to accept this is the way it is. So any comments to my concerns are greatly appreciated or pointing to study guides or detailed tutorials equally appreciated.

As far as this goes, again, we come back to the first rule of home automation: the model number matters. For many devices you will find everything you need just in the automation creator which is provided in the smartthings app. Or if what you need is more complex logic, smartthings offers many different ways to do that. See the community FAQ (the topic title is a clickable link)

But if what you want is to bring in a device which doesn’t have an official integration with smartthings, that’s an entirely different question. If you’re willing to pay for an annual Ifttt subscription, that’s often a pretty easy way to get this, and many people use it. If the device offers an integration with Alexa but not with smartthings, you may be able to use Alexa routines as a free intermediary. If you’re willing to pay the one time lifetime fee for @rboy ‘s Library, you may find lots of code there which is helpful, and this is a very popular option.

Otherwise about all you can do is what you’ve already done: search the forum and see if somebody has already contributed code to create an integration to the product you were interested in. But it may require multiple steps and some of the steps can be fairly complex. There just isn’t any way around it in the current architecture.

I know that’s not a very satisfying answer, but it’s just the way that smartthings has evolved.

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Thanks so much for this informative reply. I knew I was looking for something that probably wasn’t there but now I know. After 70 years it is time to go back to school. :roll_eyes:

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you have lots of choices when using smartthings. :sunglasses:

The company says the majority of the customers have 15 or fewer devices and never use any custom code. If you do it that way, everything is pretty simple.

OPTION 1: ONLY USE DEVICES AND RULES ALREADY INCLUDED IN THE STANDARD ST APP

You only use devices which have integrations provided by the manufacturer and can just be added through the SmartThings app.

You only create automation rules by using the + in the upper right of the main app screen. Plus Smartthings home monitor and maybe smart lighting And smart locks: the smartapps which are provided by Samsung.

And that’s it. If you have a device which doesn’t have a manufacturer –provided integration, you either don’t use it with smartthings or you replace it with a different model which does have an integration.

Take that approach, and everything will be pretty straightforward. There will be a lot that you can do and if you have questions about how to use a particular feature or how to set up a particular rule you can always come to the forum and ask. :sunglasses:

So apparently that’s what most people do, and if they open the app and see that Chamberlain, for example, doesn’t have an official integration, they usually just decide to do without it.

This is how most inexpensive home automation systems work, by the way.

OPTION 2: IFTTT

The next approach is to use the simple intermediaries, like IFTTT. Sometimes that and a few virtual Switches is enough to get at least partial integration with some of the Devices you might want to add but that don’t have a manufacturer provided full integration with smartthings. Someone with a good tech background can learn how to do this in a weekend and have everything they need to know. So a lot of people stop there and are very happy with their smartthings setup.

OPTION 3: CUSTOM CODE

Or… you can jump into the deep end and start working with custom code. That might be in the form of webcore, custom DTHs, custom smartapps, rboyapps, the rules API, Even writing your own code.

You can unlock a lot of very powerful options that are not offered through the standard features, but a lot of this is not very well documented (with the notable exception of webcore), end it will generally take a lot of work to figure it out, sometimes just by studying existing examples.

The people who do this are a very small percentage of total smartthings users, and very committed, but they do find that smartthings as a platform lets them do a lot of things that the competitors do not. They could add devices that don’t have a manufacturer-provided integration, they can access advanced features of some devices, they can set up much more complex rules.

YOUR CHOICE

So it’s up to you. If you want what is essentially a plug and play system, you can have that: but you have to stick to the devices that have integrations listed in the app.

If you just have a few devices that you want to use that are not listed and they happen to have IFTTT Integration, you can bring them in that way, and that’s enough for many people. IFTTT it’s easy to use and easy to learn and there are many brands that have joined the service. Including smartthings.

But if you want to go beyond that and start using devices which, for whatever reasons, don’t offer an official integration with either smart things or IFTTT, or you want to create rules with options that are not available through the smartthings app, then, yes, it can take a lot of work and a lot of research. Whether that’s worth it to you or not it’s just a personal decision.

So if you want simple, smartthings offers simple: you just have to limit yourself to the devices and rules options that are already in the smartthings app. But if you want more, you can have that too: it’s just going to take some work to get there. Choice is good. :sunglasses:

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Hopefully I will be able to achieve Option 2 at some point. Thanks.

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