I’m sorry for how long this post became. It was originally meant to just be a post asking about the status of the rule builder, but it has turned into a much greater question of, “What does SmartThings think its demographic is and what does it want it to be?”
Having come from using a few other home automation systems, I was very excited when I came across SmartThings. I love so many things about it. On one side of the spectrum, it makes many things super easy to do that would take a degree to do in some other automation systems; a non-programming fool like me was able to set up the basics of my whole system in less than an hour. And on the other side of the spectrum those super smart coders out there have such unparalleled access to create and implement so many cool things within this system through the API.
As I see it, there are about 4 demographics out there (with some people that probably land somewhere in-between)
1) The uninterested in tech. Those are the people that are generally too intimidated by tech and just don’t have the time, money, interest, or know-how to get into something like SmartThings.
2) The interested but impatient. Those are the people like my parents or my wife. They like the convenience that tech can bring to their lives, but they don’t have the patience or know-how to play with something that isn’t extremely intuitive and user friendly. My wife loves what SmartThings can do, but she would never be willing or able to set it up herself. I believe that someday SmartThings will bring the simplicity to that level, but it just isn’t there yet and probably won’t be for quite some time.
3) The interested and very patient. That’s me, and I believe most of the SmartThings users. They love this stuff, know enough about tech to get most if it working, and are patient enough to put up with it when it doesn't work the way they want it to.
4) The interested and ingenious. Those are the programmers that actually know what an API is. They love this stuff and for the most part they don’t need patience because if something isn’t there, they know how to make it themselves. Those are also the people that are probably reading this post having pity on people like me that aren’t able to make SmartThings the way I want it.
I think there is a huge hole for group number 3. I would consider myself a “techy.” I love this stuff. I’ve automated most of my home, I’ve built a home theater PC… my wife thinks I’m some kind of tech genius. Little does she know, that I think I am a fairly average tech connoisseur. I don’t know the first thing about writing code. I would guess that most of the demographic that is interested in SmartThings right now is just like me. But the lack of a rule builder of some kind is a huge hindrance to people like me. (Here is a link to a HomeSeer video from 2010 that gives you an idea of what a rule builder could look like if you are unfamiliar with what I’m talking about.)
The rule builder has come up in several other topics on this forum. Not being able to program anything myself, I have no idea what the complexity of this is. I do know that several people including @Ben have said that it is extremely complex and I don’t doubt it. It sounds as though the most difficult part of programming it is making it user friendly. Some kind of version of the rule builder has been around for at least 7 months. I saw a version of it in April and I know some people on the forum were accidently given access to it. I get that SmartThings doesn’t want to put out something that they think is too complicated, but I would ask, “too complicated for who?” I can’t imagine that the current version of the rule builder is too complicated for the actual SmartThings user. I would hope they could release it soon or at least give a beta version to desperate folk like me.
I believe that in trying to reach every demographic, SmartThings has made itself almost so simple that it is befuddling to a techy like me and yet still too complicated for people like my wife. I really like @Ben's idea of having two separate apps. One would be a super simple controller that would be great for my wife. People like her really only use 2-5 functions from SmartThings and it would be much easier for them to use if that’s all they had access to. The other app would be the “administrator” or “builder” app. That’s where you do all the complicated stuff including a rule builder and creating the “controller” app.
@Ben, I apologize if any of this has been covered recently in the office hours sessions. Since the time change, I haven't been able to attend. I do really appreciate that you guys are still doing that; what an awesome thing to do for your users.