[NEWBIE] Discussion: Which is the best UI for mobile?

Hello y’all,

i am new to OpenHab and wondering, which UIs y’all are uising.

I have previously used FHEM and the FHEM Widget iPhone/iPad App, which gave me a customizable Grid-View on my Phones Lockscreen. 95% of the UI accesses will come frome smartphones, so mobile optimiziation is my number one priority. The solution has to be suitable for non tech-savy persons in the household :slight_smile:

So far i have made the following experiences, are those correct or am i missing something?

HABPanel: Optimizing a HABPanel UI for Mobile is pretty painfull, since the scaling has to be done manually, resulting in different experiences on different devices. I did not manage to build an UI that would work on two of our households phones (admittedly, one with 1080p Screen one with 4k) and am not willing to build various views for various different devices. Additionally, most plugins i came along, did not work when scaled that much.

PaperUI: Using the PaperUI for non-administrative tasks is not recommended (as found here ). I could confirm that, as i did not manage to hide or customize certain objects enough, so that they would work “self-explainatory” for a non tech-savy person. Did someone successfully hide elements from thie list-view in Locations?

BasicUI: I like everything about that UI. execept the limitation in usable widgets. Not beeing able to add some sort of MediaControl unfourtunately is no option for me :frowning:

HABot: I love that feature, but i also need a GUI :frowning:

What experiences did you make?
Which UIs are you Using?
What solutions are you using for control on iPhone/iPad?

Habpanel is good for anything static. Think of an actual wall panel/tablet.
Basic UI: best “old” ui for mobile devices.

You are missing the best mobile UI in your list though - the new OH3 main UI :slight_smile:

check out: https://demo.openhab.org/

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As this topic is tagged openhab3: PaperUI no longer exists. As @Daniel_O says, the new MainUI has taken its place, with much better customisation and visuals.

Documentation here.


Yep, MainUI is what you want to look at now. It can run on mobile in a web browser or in the openHAB app.

That being said, voice is the UI I would prioritize (be it GA, Alexa, and/or Siri). Most of my daily interaction with openHAB is through Google Assistant, and I control my TV using my Logitech Harmony and Google TV remotes. I’ve never cared for app-based remote controls, because it’s inefficient having to pick up the device and then swipe around to get to controls. I’d rather have a physical remote for media control, with voice as the secondary option.

For audio services (e.g. Spotify), I just rely on Google Assistant. It’s almost always going to be faster to play/pause/skip/etc. by voice than fussing with an app. Same goes for non-media controls. I can press a light switch or ask Google faster than I can fire up an app or browser.

On my Android phone, I have one openHAB item in my notification icons to lock/unlock my front door, so that I can do that while walking up the stairs in my building. Other than that, I rarely use the openHAB app on any of my devices. Odds are that when I’m at home and want to control something, I won’t have any of them in my pocket.

Just to reiterate and complete the list:

UI Type Advantages Disadvantages Notes
CometVisu ??? ??? ??? I’ve never seen this one talked about much but someone must be using it since it’s still around. It’s been around since OH 1.
ClassicUI Users Not available in OH 3 Uses sitemaps, looks like an iPhone UI from ten years ago.
PaperUI Admin Not available in OH 3, never was finished. Originally was envisioned to be a unified UI but never was finished, abandoned by the developer.
BasicUI User Simple (uses sitemaps), still supported by OH 3. It’s basic, hence the name. The best (but not only) way to view sitemaps in a browser.
iOS App User, Phone app Enables push notifications from the myopenhab.org cloud, has other phone integrations(?) Only displays sitemaps (?) Uses sitemaps to define the UI.
Android App User, Admin, Phone app Enables push notifications, integrates with Tasker, can send phone information (e.g. next alarm, location, WiFi connected) to OH, provides various widgets for control of stuff outside the app (e.g. notification badges), can display HABPanel and MainUI (Beta version). Doesn’t let you choose MainUI as the default UI when opening the app. Uses sitemaps by default when not using one of the other UIs.
HABPanel User Graphically built in the browser. Has a gallery of community defined widgets for reuse. Touch friendly. Not responsive to different screen sizes. Still around but I expect it might become replaced by MainUI in the future. There is a PR open to add HABPanel type layouts to MainUI.
HABot User Chatbot and dynamic UI. You can create and define UI elements. PWA for “installation” on phones and desktops. Requires setting up the semantic model of your Items, doesn’t always figure out what you are asking very well (needs work).
MainUI Admin, User Unified interface for both admin and users, uses role based access, does a lot of UI building for you but still allows for a lot of customization. Responsive to different screen sizes. Very new so some areas have bugs and others are incomplete. But most of the stuff you are likely to use is pretty solid. This is the UI that will be presented going forward. MainUI can show and build sitemaps but there are a couple of features not supported (visibility and color).

I don’t use Apply stuff when I can help it so I’m mostly going based on what I’ve seen said on the forum here. I could be wrong on a lot of that row and welcome corrections.

I’ve been with OH since version 1.6. I’m all in with MainUI and have moved to defining everything that can be through MainUI. I’m very happy with the result.

MainUI, HABot occasionally, and the Android App.

We don’t have iPhones but for our phones we do use the Android apps or just bring up the web page directly. We don’t have tablets. But for most of the day-to-day interactions we use Google Assistant or the house just does what it’s supposed to do without being controlled. The goal is automation. Only those things that cannot or should not be automated end up in the UI (except for in MainUI which will generate a UI for all your Items that are in the Model) which is not that much really.


Just because I think it’s not always obvious to new users:
The UI referred to as „MainUI“ is the one that you see when installing and configuring openHAB, and in regards to steering your equipment its home screen and „pages“.

Those pages support creating responsive layouts which are probably best if you want to access the same content from many different devices.

That said, the next version of OH will probably ship an additional way of page layouting, in grid style, similar to HABPanel. This grid layout is basically scalable, but don’t expect much more from it as HABPanel can do, since many controls simply are not really made to fully scale (like e.g. toggle buttons).

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If you want to use iPads and iPhones I assume you are using an iPad as a wall mounted device?
I tried to have one MainUI page layout which fits my needs for either devices. As it does not make sense to me to work with 2 compromises I ended up having two layouts: one for my wall mounted iPad and one for our iPhones.