How to figure out how to do something in openHAB 3

Then this post isn’t for them. They’ve tried stuff. They’ve tried to do the obvious. In the past week I’ve seen several “what happens if I do X” posts. Just do it and see what happens! If you’re the type of person to just do it, this post isn’t directed at you.

I am happy to help people get past confusion and misunderstandings. But there has been a huge growth in people posting who don’t even try.

And maybe I have the exact same time constraints. This isn’t my job. This isn’t my life. So how is being rude here? The person who uses up my time asking questions they could easily answer themselves just by clicking on the button or the person who, despite knowing it’s not going to be appreciated bothers to answer?

That’s not the issue. I’m fine with that. All those Design Pattern posts and tutorials I’ve written were created to solve that exact problem. Instead of typing how to clear the cache over and over, just link to a tutorial. Easy peasy.

My problem is with users who don’t even try to do even the most basic things themselves. And these are not new users. These are people who claim “I’ve been using OH 2 for months/years. This code used to work but now it won’t in OH 3” and then proceed to post code that never could have ever worked. These are people who have experience with OH and should know better.

I do not fault new users for not knowing things and being confused. But if you’ve been using OH for awhile, I expect better. I expect you to at least know to look at the docs again. I expect you to know to look at the logs. To add logs to your rules when something doesn’t work. To experiment and try clicking on stuff to see what happens. They are not newbes any more, they should know better.

These are the users who have turned off their brain. The intermediate/experienced users who won’t do the bare minimum to help themselves and expect us to do all the work.

I didn’t know that. I’ll gladly give up my moderator status if it’s a problem.

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Please don‘t !!!


Rich, first up, thank you for everything you do to help those of us who don’t have the time and experience with openHAB.

In my experience, the biggest challenge around learning openHAB is the misalignment of the documentation with the current version. It feels almost impossible to know if the version you’re on matches what the documentation was written for. Take HomeKit in 3.0 as an example. Since the release, as far as I can tell, it spoke to a QR code being generated at the setup screen. Of course, my openHAB install didn’t start displaying this until one of the 3.0 milestones, but I spent countless hours trying to figure out why my HomeKit install was “broken” in vanilla 3.0. This same behavior occurred again regarding Color Temperatures in HomeKit. Apparently this functionality is broken - causing HomeKit to fail without any logging of the issue. The documentation doesn’t indicate this at all.

I don’t say this to point blame at the tools, but simply as an example of the challenge it presents. It feels like half of the time I run into a problem on openHAB, it’s my lack of understanding (maybe even as to how to name and troubleshoot the problem) and the other half it’s some kind of bug I have to wait to be resolved. But I never know which it is because I can’t know what I don’t know. These issues, for me, are exacerbated by the fact that things like the rules DSL aren’t standardized across versions. Rules that work in 2.0 may not work in 3.0, especially time/date related activities. Of course I understand this now, but the average newbie coming in, snagging code from web or forum sources and trying to learn is going to have a frustrating path before they figure this out.

I would also say the logging in openHAB, while it can be comprehensive, is difficult to understand. It can be hard for a newbie to figure out how to activate the proper logging levels and view the logs you need specifically. Further, openHAB errors can be opaque. Frequently errors are presented as stack traces that can be incredibly difficult to track to what is actually occurring. And one last comment on logging: I hope that better log management and viewing is on the roadmap to getting into the UI. It’s difficult to tell people “use the UI for everything” and follow that with “except logging, which is a series of arcane log level settings based on modules that you don’t even know exist until you find it in the forum somewhere or end up deep in GitHub”.


The docs are never going to match what the code can do and what is in the SNAPSHOTS or in the milestones. Especially if there are new features. You are running with Alpha and Beta level software at that point. The SNAPSHOTS are not even ALPHA. They are literally everything that was merged into the baseline yesterday.

If you want the docs to match, you have to use the releases, not the testing versions.

Have you filed an issue? Have you created a PR to mention this in the docs?

Again, nothing I’ve said applies to newbys. None of it. Not one word. I don’t expect newbes to know this stuff. I do expect them to supply them when asked for them.

And adding logging to a rule doesn’t required any reconfiguration of the loggers config. It’s only if someone might have a bug or misconfiguration on a binding that someone here might ask that user to enable debug or trace logging. No one expects any user, let alone a new user to know to do that or to know how to do that. It’s unreasonable. But if you are an intermediate user who has been using OH for awhile, you should know that logs will be required.

You may not know what the error means but any user can figure out what line of code an error occurs on just by adding logs. Sometimes that’s enough to solve the problem. If not, it certainly will help us solve the problem.

I do not set the bar that high. If you are a newbe, I expect the docs to at least have been consulted and a search of the forum made. That’s it. I don’t expect you to understand what you’ve read. I don’t expect you to know to do anything that I put in the OP above. Newbes get a complete and total pass (until such time that information requests is not given, replies are not ready thoroughly, or there is a refusal to try anything themselves when asked). I’m fine with coddling new users. This stuff is hard even for programmers and technically inclined people.

But if you’ve been using OH for awhile, you should know at least that logs are needed. Most of the time the default settings for the logs generate everything we need to know. I don’t require you to know how to reconfigure the loggers or anything like that. But at least post the logs when asking the question. Especially post logs when asked. I require you to have spent at least a minimum amount of time trying out a few things on your own. I expect you to have a look at the docs. Tried a few experiments. Maybe bothered to look at the actual states of the relevant Items (I can’t count how many problems I’ve helped experienced users with that ended up being because their Items are NULL in the past couple of months).

Frankly, I just don’t have a lot of sympathy for users who can’t manage to find a log file on the file system. If that’s too hard I can’t imagine that user will ever be successful with home automation.

And a final word on the docs. There are far too few contributing to them. Even so, to the best of our knowledge, when OH 3 was released, every word of them were still relevant to OH 3 or were rewritten for OH 3. I can’t speak to the Add-ons docs as those are wholly written by and updated by the maintainers of the individual bindings. But the core docs that are there are all applicable, as written, to OH 3. But docs have bugs and are missing features too. If you find something wrong or missing in the docs, and you are an intermediate to experienced user, file an issue! Even better, make the fix!

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I did ultimately get the issue tracked down and there is a bug report for that. However, you make a good point - I had no clue I could create a PR to mention it in the documentation. I’ll see if I can figure that out.

At the bottom of every page in the docs there is a link:

Caught a mistake or want to contribute to the documentation? Edit this page on GitHub(opens new window)

Note, that’s the SNMP binding’s readme which I just happened to have open.

There is also:

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Fact is, there’s a single sentence that turns us into the most helpful people you’ll ever find.

“I searched the community and the docs, and couldn’t find an answer.”

All I want to know is that someone put in an effort. It is legitimately hard to do keyword searches, and completely reasonable that someone might not be able to find the information they need when terminology differs. I’m always happy to point them in the right direction if I can connect the dots. I just don’t want to do their work for them.


Please don’t give up this status!

Reading posts on this forum I can not only second your finding (correct English?) about a changing attitude in the posted questions, I also “sensed” that this change had an effect on you.
Although I’m not putting into the forum as much you do I understand you’re reasoning.
If it would have been me writing the OP the

would be the writing of that post and the following ones.
I do hope writing these posts are actually having this effect on you, if not PLEASE take your time off the forum and come back.

Is it only my used browser not showing your profile picture with the bowler hat or did you remove that on purpose?

I noticed this too. Can’t see the photo on Firefox on by Ubuntu PC, but shows up fine on my Android phone browser. Only Rich’s avatar is affected!!

Without searching

Sounds like you could use a holiday. I feel your frustrations and I have learned an enormous amount of things from reading your responses to other peoples questions without even posting the question.


You are part of the solution keep up the good work. You will likely not interact with lots of people due to your detailed posts.

Oh come on you are better than this and we all know it.

Some of you may have noticed that lately I answered some post with a single question. Its due to the poster not putting any effort in a all.


Hmm, it’s still showing up for me. I didn’t change anything. I’ll be mostly off the forum starting Wednesday for a week. Heading to the mountains for some birthday celebrations (mine is today, my son’s is Saturday). I’ll look into the avatar issue. Other users avatars disappeared awhile back.

Though I did have a user/contributer call me something like “an idiot in a stupid hat” once. If that didn’t cause me to remove it, nothing will. :grin:

It wasn’t an idle threat or anything like that. I’m very sensitive to the ethics of being a moderator. It is an important responsibility and there are lots of chances for conflict of interest. If my posting and my behavior ever rises to the level where there is a conflict of interest, I’ll gladly give up the moderator status. The last thing I want is to have users think there’s a double standard and moderators don’t have to follow the rules.

In this case, because I’m so active on the forum, others not being able to block me could be considered such a conflict.


@rlkoshak , hip hip, move on. And happy birthday !

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Happy birthday, Rich!

FYI, I noticed your avatar disappear and then reappear and then disappear again, so something’s up with it.

Off topic - my little dalek disappeared (from my point of view) a few days ago. I just harrumphed and re-uploaded the image, been consistent for me since.


Not gonna lie…I originally thought your dalek was a cheese grater, and it wasn’t until I clicked on your avatar that I realized the truth. I’m admittedly not a big Dr. Who fan, but I still felt a little silly for not questioning the cheese grater.

I understand the frustration of answering the same question over and over again. I still consider myself closer to a newbie than to most people that posted in this thread. I have a different opinion, which could be wrong, of course.

The first challenge a newbie has, after installing OH, is “how do I connect my devices ?”. The first impact with the OH jargon (things, items, bindings, rules, persistence, etc) is frightening. All that a newbie wants is the first place is to switch devices on and off, and having to understand such jargon takes its time. The OH3 semantic model is a great idea, but I have my doubts that a newbie should start from there.

To make things worse, to control some devices MQTT is required, hence a new and “horrifying” world.

Right, the docs explain it all, but who has the time to read them all ? It would be easier if discovery could do this initial job, but this is not perfect (in my case it never discovered all devices). Maybe a “first steps” document would be welcome. And then “grouping instructions” to start building a model.

After having all required things and items, probably the next step is rules. For simple rules OH3 is a major improvement, but for complex ones this forum is / should be the source for examples. Unfortunately it is “polluted” with examples from OH1 and OH2 that no longer work in OH3.

When I read the OH documentation it looks to me as “how it works” and not really “how it should be used”. OH3 improved this a lot, but is not yet perfect. Maybe a “sample model”, and how it was built, could improve this.


To reiterate what Rich and I both said earlier, this thread is not about new users. It’s about any users who don’t put in an effort before asking for help. Sorry for the boldface, but that message isn’t coming across to people arriving late to this conversation.

No one’s asking users to read all of the documentation. I haven’t read all of the documentation, and I never will. But when I’m trying to solve something, the first thing I do is to search the community and the docs. This is a reasonable expectation of anyone who comes asking for help.

That would be

Per Rich’s earlier post, we welcome and encourage you to contribute edits to any docs that you believe can be improved. Every time someone criticizes the docs, some of us take the time to point this out to them. Unfortunately, very few people actually follow through. Some just don’t have the time, which is understandable, but in many cases they just want to complain. That helps no one.

Your opinion isn’t wrong. We just need more people to go from having opinions to taking action based on those opinions.


Have you seen and read the Getting Started Tutorial? If you have comments or recommendations we’d welcome them. Even better are contrabutions. It’s not done but four new pages were just added to it this week.

But ultimately home automation is a development activity. Development involves dealing with abstract concepts and knowing how to use reference documentation. These are skills that can be learned. But they cannot be eliminated. At least not without also eliminating capability. And it’s the capability and power of OH which is why most of us are here.

The Getting Started Tutorial is intended to address your concerns. But it will not replace the reference docs.


Of course

I accept the repto, but I need to team with someone else to review.


Awesome. When you submit your edits, they’ll be reviewed by maintainers who will review and provide feedback. The markdown is similar to what’s used in the community, and the only thing I found confusing was properly signing off on my pull request (it’s not hard, I just didn’t get it at first).

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