How to ask a good question / Help Us Help You

(Hilbrand Bouwkamp) #58

Well… as a developer I’m heavily promoting the use the snapshot version of the binding, because I want to know if works and doesn’t contain any bugs. For new bindings there is no stable version so if a user wants to use something it’s a snapshot version. Just look at the list of new bindings in the last release. There were only snapshots versions of those new bindings. So in praktisch it’s not going to work to not use snapshot versions. Even for existing bindings there are issues. For example if a device manufacturer decided to update the firmware of a device resulting in a binding not working. If the developer fixes this quickly it will only be available in a snapshot version. So the users only option is to install the snapshot. And not to mention that small sentence added to that updated binding: to use this binding you need to upgrade to the snapshot version of openHAB… (Because some interfacing in openHAB changed and this updated binding depends on it).

So I can relate to the problem of finding the right version. Most of the time, especially for new bindings, the developer posts a link to the forum. Then people react, some things change and an updated version is created by he developer. Next the developer posts an update with a new/same link again. If this happens over a longer period these links become outdated. Or bindings get merged, new released come making even more links obsolete. Searching through all that information can be hard for new users I would guess.

There are ways to distribute a snapshot binding: Via the Eclipse Marketplace. I try to use the Eclipse Marketplace as much as possible to distribute snapshot versions. But I think I’m only one of the few who do this. It’s maybe not the most elegant interface. But at least it makes it easier for users. So developers can help here too.

However I think openHAB needs it’s own integrated distribution mechanism for snapshot/new bindings that makes it easier for both developers and users. I’ve been thinking about such a system, but have no clear solution yet. So we can all beter communicatie what the status of a binding is and were to find it and if it is going to work on the system one is currently running on.

(Rich Koshak) #59

Would you want a new user who barely knows the difference between a Thing and an Item beta testing your binding? That seems like a recipe for frustration on everyone’s part. How would these users be able to even know whether the problem is their own or because they discovered a bug? How many just give up at that point? How much time do you need to spend hand holding the new users to help discover for yourself where the problem might lie?

Just to be clear, I’m talking about new users. Anyone who is over that initial hump of learning the basics of OH and has a somewhat working system already will be in a much better position to actually help you test your binding instead of becoming a time sink as you have to play 20 questions with them and help them gather the information you need.

And I’m not saying that users shouldn’t use the snapshots. I am saying that a new user would be far better off working with everything at the same version over running a snapshot version of a binding on an older version of the core.

I’m arguing that a new user shouldn’t be downloading a jar file from some random thread on the forum to alpha test a developer’s new binding. They have enough to learn to use OH successfully without having to deal with discovering, identifying, and reporting bugs in a binding undergoing test.

:clap: Thank you. I personally think the IOT Marketplace is a vastly underutilized resource for this sort of thing. Is wish all binding developers used it instead of using direct links to jar files in forum postings.

I’m intrigued by the idea.

(Kim Andersen) #60

I dont agree.

Openhab is very much about using snapshots… Without, there will be ½ year before release, and things is beeing fixed, new features are added in the mean time.
I know it´s riscky using snapshots, but both the users and developers need it this way. And in my opinion, snapshots are part of the open source gameplay. Things are developed very fast (if it´s an active developer). And no user wish to sit and wait ½ year for an update, only to discover its has changed drastics, (like the mqtt binding) leaving the user spending hours/days trying to fix it.
Then the user would be better off, following the development and try stuff.

(Kim Andersen) #61

Both can and will benefit on this one, Rich…
Ofcouse the users (new user) need some help… But in my opinion, then best help one can get, it working together.

(Kim Andersen) #62

My old mother used to say - If you cant think of any positive to mention, dont mention anything!

I know you apologize. You´re grown-ups… And I do know and understand your frustration as well… But I would rather want you to try help yourself, simply by focusing on whats important… If you feel a new users is taking up your time, then leave him. Others might have enough spare time to help. And if not, this user is beeing forced to try himself. It´s not the same as ignoring a post… It´s prioriting.

(Rich Koshak) #63

Perhaps not, but maybe they an wait a month or two using a version of OH that isn’t constantly changing out from under them and which has no known bugs or the bugs that are there are known and already documented. OH is hard enough to learn to use by itself. Why make it harder by chasing after a moving target.

And I’m not saying that no user should use snapshots. I’m not saying that even moderately experienced users shouldn’t use snapshots. But I cannot recommend a new user (let’s say a user with less than 40 hours of working with OH) should use snapshots. They should at most use a milestone build. And this type of user should NOT be downloading jar files from random forum postings and trying to make it work. Learn the basics first.

OH is so hard to learn and gets started with I cannot recommend anything that makes it even more difficult.

But forum users like me and vincent and dim and the others are here to help new users with new user problems. A developer shouldn’t be wasting their time helping a new user figure out basic OH concepts and configurations that have nothing to do with their binding.

(Kim Andersen) #64

Agree… But I feel you misunderstand the situation… There are bindings in the release which doesn´t work or is highly limited. (Remember I previously mentioned z-wave or even Zigbee?).
There are bindings which hasn´t been added to the release versions. If the user need this, then it has to be the hard way.
Ofcouse, you can always state, you dont want to spend your time on a user who havn´t got enough knowledge or doesnt show the effort you think he/she should… And thats fine by me. But it doesn´t provide any usefull help, telling the user to wait for the release. It´s not just a question of a few months… It could be as far as ½ year, maybe more, if the binding doesnt make it to the release. Hopefully this user would have learn in the mean time.

Also I think you miss the benefit, that every time a user get help, this user can provide the same help to the next user… etc.

The developer has to, (if none else does, including the users) if he wants someone to test his development. Ofcouse he can benefit from experienced users, and their help to others that including new users, exactly like I just wrote above. This is happning all the time, and most people seem to be satisified with it.

(Rich Koshak) #65

I once spent about 40 man hours helping this one user who refused to help himself. “This stuff is so complicated how am I supposed to do this, I’m no IT man.” But he sure did want what he wanted and he wanted it right now and he got very angry when I gave up and refused to help him any more. That may have colored my opinion some but “I want it right now and I don’t care how much time it takes you to help me get what I want.” is never going to be a convincing argument.

And nowhere am I saying anyone has to wait for the next release. One only needs to wait at most a month for the milestones.

The only reasons one needed to try out the development version of the zwave binding was because they either wanted to manually create Things in .things files or they wanted to integrate locks. There is plenty to do when starting with OH to get started over a month of learning. The only reason not to wait is because “I want it now.”

I don’t miss this point. But I think you miss the point that encouraging new users to do things that will make their learning process and adoption of OH even harder than it is is not going to lead to success most of the time.

You missed the first part.

But forum users like me and vincent and dim and the others are here to help new users with new user problems.

Creating a thread with several hundred posts that is supposed to be about beta testing a developer’s new binding before it makes it into the nightly snapshots is not helped in the least by a bunch of posts dealing with new user problems doesn’t help anyone. I’m not saying that developers shouldn’t help new users. I’m not saying developer shouldn’t help all users. But when a new user who doesn’t know the first thing about OH yet bumbles in and tries to do advanced stuff like installing a binding manually from a downloaded jar file because “they want it now” shows either a lack of understand of how much time that imposes on us or they value our time so little as to not care.

(YvesHanoulle) #66

I think in this whole discussion, there is a mix up between first time user and new user of a certain binding.

I’m with @rlkoshak OH is already hard enough to have first time users bother by bugs and testing.

It will frustrate the developer and the first time user.
Now once a new binding is more stable then a first time user can use it and then his feedback will make it better.
this new users by then will better understand OH and the binding will be working in the normal cases and most corner cases.

Milestones or some similar versions would do that trick.

(Markus Storm) #67

That’s plain wrong and shows an unreasonable expectation attitude that cannot be met.
Zigbee is experimental and no user really NEEDS it (there’s still Hue, Tadfri etc if one owns that HW).
ZWave was working fine before the development version (now part of 2.4), too, with only a few smallish limitations (remember device database was the same).

What you call “needs” is actually just expectations of users, new ones in particular, and it’s expectations that are exceeding what can reasonably be accomplished. They expect all of their devices to instantly work the way they want although they’re not even halfway familiar with the technology and unaware that it’s an exotic, complex, brand new or even wrong thing they expect. Reasonable, well-informed people (such as moderate-term OH users) with more of a common sense would NOT expect that to be available.

By no means.
Someone new to his development, yes (but that applies to everybody). Some OH newbie - definitely no.

(Kim Andersen) #68

Zigbee is official release, even in openhab 2.3 and I do believe in openhab 2.2 as well.
Lot of things has changed, and several problems seem solved, in snapshot binding 2.5. Before this, Zigbee was a true hell. (I have been there all the way since 2.2!).
Second - who are you to decide, if someone needs Zigbee? Either I misunderstand your argument, or you seem rather arrogant to me.

Z-wave does not contain all devices… When someone has a device which is not yet supported by the z-wave database. Either this user has to add it himself, or wait for someone to do that, and then pull the latest binding.

If I install a peace of software which claim to support something. No surprise I DO EXPECT it will support it, ofcouse. Why shouldn´t I?

It has nothing to do with common sense. (Beside understanding the concept of open source in general!)
It has to do with the information, the “picture” openhab sends when reading about it etc… This is where the expectation arrives. And when things dont seem to work, questions will apear, no matter how experience the user is. It´s the concept of open source projects in general!

In my opinion, you´re wrong. But I understand we´ll never agree on this.
Open source projects needs all kinds of users. And specially a software like openhab, which involves thousands of things, devices and stuff. Those experienced user cant cover everything, and specially not documentation. If you focus only on this kind of experienced user, it will turn into a “closed family”. A “closed family” which often havnt got room for new users, unless they show an enormous effort and become experienced as well. This is not uncommon in several open source projects I have been familiar with.
But to my understanding, this is not the idea with openhab2. I could be wrong though. I must admit, reading your replies, I believe I´m wrong.

(Markus Storm) #69

So what ? Can you expect any software to provide that ? No you cannot.
Did anyone promise OH does ? No. It’s just (wrong) expectations.

Not wrong. We can have an argument over meaning of words if that’s experimental, beta, v1 or whatever you prefer, but clearly the Zigbee binding is not comprehensive, mature code.
The fact that is was contained in some release does not mean anything by itself. Just one counter example, the Experimental Rules Engine also has been part of OH releases for some time, still it’s called like that - guess why.

I think you misunderstand. I mentioned those other bindings because you can use them if you want to integrate Zigbee devices without using the Zigbee binding. But noone needs to integrate them and noone needs to use the Zigbee binding for that.
No life depends on it, and it’s not commonly available (thus “expectable”) functionality either. OH is an unmatched over-the-top integration system. There cannot be a “need” to provide OH’s functionality because
a) those Zigbee systems already work self-contained (e.g. use Hue app or remote with their bulbs) and
b) no other umbrella system - to be compared with/potentially replaced by OH - provides functionality like that.
So it’s a user’s hope or wish at best, or expectation as I called it, but nowhere near a need or even promise.
The difference between wish and expectation is the user’s perception of whether this is supposed to work with the software he’s using. That in turn depends on many things, OH’s docs being one of them, but as with all systems, caution needs to be applied when reading statements (or lack thereof), especially when it comes to new features. That’s part of applying “common sense”.
As unfortunate as that may be it’s the way the modern world is that things are mostly formulated the positive way but often omits missing pieces that would be important to some reader. Docs are never comprehensive - let alone early versions - and to expect them to be is naive. Changing docs to be full of warnings makes people stay away from it so that’s no proper approach either. This is nothing specific to Open Source.
And it’s way more than the official docs to contribute to that perception. Official docs are usually late and scarce on new features so often it’s some inofficial information source (someone’s posting on the forum maybe) that may as well just be wrong or misunderstood.
There’s much room for a user to misinterpret things, let alone a newbie - and MOST are newbies here because it’s a NEW feature.

(Kim Andersen) #70

Just as well as you would expect anything else to work…
So what you say is, users should not expect anything to work? (this is the terms of open source, like I said in my first post).

Regarding wether new users shouln´t be installing snapshot bindings… It sure does mean everything…

I doubt anyone would find openhab2 interesting because of the Expermental Rules Engine. Opposite goes for Zigbee, Z-wave and other devices… This is what draws interest.

How are you suppose to use Zigbee devices without the binding?

Ehh!! No life depends on anything regarding openhab… Whats your point here?

You can buy lots and lots of zigbee devices without a gateway… I really fail to understand what you´re getting at here… Not all Zigbee devices are Philips Hue, Traadfri, Osram Ligthify devices… Just for your information!

Expectations I agree. Because someone/somthing told the users to expect something.

This thread is about how knowledged, how experienced and how much effort a new user should comprehend, before beeing allowed to post questions or ask for help.
Min opinion is, openhab is open source, and it´s highly difficult. This means, you can not stop these questions or asking for help. And you can not demand these new users to go study and not come back untill they can develope themselves. What you can do, is to decide for yourself, how much time and effort you want to put in these new users, and partly demand a minimal effort, (which I cant define).
Thats open source!

(Vincent Regaud) #71

It’s not about not being allowed. Everyone is allowed to ask a question. BUT a question should be asked with the relevant information around it AND (preferably) that the user has tried to solve the problem by him(her)self before asking.
That is not too much to ask.

Yes, openHAB is hard.
Yes, it’s a steep learning curve, even for exprienced IT people.

Home automation in general is HARD. The house is not magically going to start using 40 devices from 10 different suppliers talking 5 different protocols to open the blinds in the morning or set your ventilation and heating. Not to mention the lights. It takes hard work and dedication.
Home automation is a Hobby. That means spending time (A lot of time) to make it work.

In 10 years time, with AI, it may be possible to have plug and play home automation.
In the mean time, sit down in front of your screen, read the docs and learn. There is no other way.

We (The power users) have spent a lot of time and dedication to learn this. Often when there was no forum to speak of yet. We sat down, and tinkered until it worked.
No one spoon fed us ready made code and/or binding configs.

Openhab 1, was way harder that OH2 is now, and it is getting better and better. The Devs are doing a sterling job.
The users powering the forum are doing a great job.
The new users are only asked to help themselves a little bit.

The OP

(Scott Karns) #72

WARNING! Humor follows.

Reading through much of this discussion, I am reminded of the following, old Heinlein quote:


We all started somewhere with OH, and it was frustrating (but it was pig-headedness that got us through the frustration to getting something working.)

(Markus Storm) #73

Right! We expect new users to show a fair amount of effort and respect before and while asking.
That’s what I tried but failed to explain to @Kim_Andersen.
Thanks Vincent for boiling it to the point.

(Kim Andersen) #74

You both missed my point.
Im not saying a experienced user shouldn´t expect a new user to have done somekind of effort himself, before asking.

What I´m trying to say is, that each and every new users are different. Most of them, (in my opinion) do try to do whatever THEY can. But they´re all different.
Some will ask for help in one way, others in another way. The #1 post will not change this, cause some of the new users would most probably fail to even understand the post as well.
Langauge barrier can be/is a huge problem as well, not to mention it´s a written media (the community). Things are not always as written…

Lots of stuff are reasons for this behaviours. But yet you claim, these new users are “bad persons” only trying to ruin your lives, (dramatize to state my point). And now you feel there is a need to tell (in my opnion, demanding) that these new users follow the #1 post, go studying at least the same amount of time you did. (again, dramatized to state my point).
I believe you´re ignoring what might be, (and quite often are) reasons mentioned above. You look at the new users as a single person. And you set up your demands from this one, ie #1 post.
You will fail, if you demand or even expect this in all cases.

It´s okay not to react, if you feel someone is wasting your time. But at least try to see things from the new users side. As said, most of them I believe are highly frustrated. They´ve put´d whatever THEY could into this. This is VERY hard, and its VERY complexed. Often it´s even complexed to explain a problem or ask the right questions.
You all agree in smart home system (openhab) is very hard. If it´s hard for you, think of how hard it is to someone new.

It´s okay to respond to a post, which is missing basic information, telling the OP whats needed to get futher. If you feel this is waste of time, or the OP show none or little effort. Either leave it, or point him in the right direction in a polite manner. The choice is your´s!
Often when a new users has been corrected (in a polite manner) and pointed in the right direction, this user do see your point and agree. And he will then have learned till next time. Possitive side effect - He will probably carry this lesson learned futher to other new users as well.

Rules are fine, but when it comes to very complexed and technical stuff which you agree openhab is, you have to accept the risc, that the rules can become very complexed and technical as well, and will be felt as a slap in the face of an new user, if they´re used as demands.

I on the other hand, believe this applies differently to every individual situation as well as every individual user, which in my opinion changes the rules to guidelines, and wish´s insted… Not demands!

Fortunately most of you (the experienced users as well as developers) already do act this way.

(Vincent Regaud) #75

That’s the thing.
We would like ALL questions asked this but we know they can’t be.
We do try to nudge people the right way
We do point them to this post or some docs or other forum thread were they will find their answer with a bit of work on their part
We don’t demand anything, we wish it.

Personally, If a new user shows no effort after a couple of tips, I give up.
But if they make a bit of progress and come up with some code (Even if it’s completely jumbled up) I’ll step in and help (Most of the time). Unfortunately, I also have a life beside openHAB :wink:

(Alex) #76


One thing unfortunately is missing in your list:

Read community guidelines

There are many people out there who never ever read it.

(Vincent Regaud) #77

Thank you. Added