OpenHab Marketing is Lacking

this is marketing :slight_smile:

I have 4 words for you all I … LOVEE … THIS … OPENHAB

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This is now really a Monthy Python „Life of Bryan“ kind conversation (for those of you who are a little bit older) where the members of the people’s front agree they need to stop talking and need to take actions, but they start talking again about urgent actions (and I do not mean this in an evil way).

We are in a kind of chicken/egg situation. In order to break that dilemma, I just can repeat what I mentioned above, we need to establish an institution (comparable to the developers council for the technical strategy) for our external communication (press, marketing, website, video, documentation, etc), make suggestions for feature request, etc. That institution puts together a consistent and a professional marketing plan and also takes decisions so that we simply stop talking and start acting.

I also want to strongly advise that not each individual of us is starting to do a little bit of things here and there, etc. That will create inconsistent messages on the market and will lead to confusion.
Again, once there is a plan, there will be lots of contributors who want to participate in executing the plan.

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And all that technical stuff is caused by the 350 factorial combinations of technologies that OH supports. You can’t have it both ways. Each one of those bindings and combinations of bindings adds a little bit of complexity. They each add something that the end user is going to have to know, research, learn, figure out. And while a lot has been done to make things the same as much as possible (that’s why we have Things in the first place) to minimize as much of the technical complexity as we can, there is always going to be some.

True, but we don’t know what is relevant or not to that new user until we know what the problem they want to solve is. We can’t anticipate what to present so we have to present everything and try to give that user the tools to help them identify what is relevant and what isn’t.

One user may need to learn the ins and outs of connecting OH to Gmail so they can send an email and how to work with the Hue ecosystem. Another may need to learn how to set up Telegram and hook up OH to zigbee2mqtt over MQTT. A third may need to know how to set up the Cloud Connector and connect devices through the Zigbee binding.

Which of these new users do we cater to and which do we leave out in the cold?

Or do we simply say “Sorry, if you want notifications the only option is through the Cloud Connector. If you want email we can’t help because that’s too complicated for new users.”

Often because the new user cannot even understand their own requirements until they have some of this foundation in understanding the technologies they want to use and the problem they want to solve. We can’t do that for them. Or I should say, we could do that for them but only if we limit the options to a manageable set, in which case say goodbye to those 350! combinations of technologies. Maybe we could handle around 20! and we’d end up looking just like Google Home in capability.

Home automation is hard. We are doing our best to make it easier for everyone. But it’s never going to get to the place where new users don’t have to know and understand some basics of the technologies involved.

That’s not how it works. You need to know the basics of the technologies involved just to get OH connected to them in the first place. You can’t even get started. We don’t present these hurdles up front as some sort of test. They are there because we have as of yet found no way to make it any simpler. If you want to connect to email, you have to know how email works. If you want to connect to KNX, you have to know how KNX works. And to understand how all the technologies are normalized in OH you have to know how OH works or, at a minimum, the core concepts.

If anyone can can figure out how to serve new users with a random set of “I want to…” in a way that does not require them to know even just the basics of the technologies involved and the core OH concepts I’ll do more than buy them a beer. We’ve been trying to achieve this for almost a decade.

But I think my beer money is safe. We can, have, and continue to chip around the edges of this problem but IMO it’s not a solvable problem. Maybe someday AI can do something but I’m cautious there.

I should note that there is at least one issue created and being worked based on this thread.

If you mean the Architecture Counsel that is not what it does. The AC adjudicates proposed changes that impact lots of different OH repos (as each repo is separately managed and maintained) and adjudicates conflicts between maintainers who cannot resolve the conflicts among themselves. It does not dictate technical strategy. Even if it did, there is little it could do to enforce it.

Please go and do it! There is nothing stopping you and anyone else on this thread from doing this. Create a topic and start working out how it will work. Start to do some communications and marketing work. Establish a track record. Work with the OH Foundation where appropriate and necessary. Work with the developers where appropriate and necessary.

This is exactly what bottom up means. The collective you decide to do something and go and do it. If you are waiting for someone official to give you permission you’ll be waiting forever. You don’t need anyone’s permission to do this. If you are waiting for someone official to give you direction, no such official exists.

The only restriction is you can’t tell anyone to do anything. We have no employees here. No indentured servants. Only what someone volunteers to do gets done and only to the extent that the volunteer is willing to do.

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No, sorry to be so direct on this. This is exactly what I mean. This is not about a discussion how to solve simple topics/problems. This is about external communication, which should be done in a professional way. And simply starting doing anything may produce some output, but is not a professional approach especially for external communication.

You also misunderstood that I am „waiting for permission or officials“. My post was a call to action. I already volunteered for being part of a team to create a plan and start executing on a plan.

If there are more users who think the same way, great, then we can go ahead.

But, here we go again: Start talking and discussing…

Not really. It is great that you volunteer for a task force, but why not start a new topic as „call for acton“ to get a „marketing project group“ in place?
That’s what is missing now!

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I can’t say it better than @hmerk but I’ll say it again for emphasis.

If you are tired of all the talking, and are volunteering to do the work, then go get busy! No one here is stopping you and we welcome the effort.

You’ve identified a problem and have at least the start of a plan for how to solve it. Hurray! You’ve even volunteered to contribute to it solving it. Fantastic! All that is missing is actually starting the work.

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Good idea!
I have created a new thread here:
https://community.openhab.org/t/call-to-action-volunteers-for-openhab-marketing/149618
I tried to keep it short but that was very difficult…

Let’s see what the outcome is.

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There might be a way but, unfortunately, I think we don’t have the bargaining power to do it at the moment. I think it’s what companies like Apple do with their smart home ecosystem. They dictate what suppliers should do if they want to get access to their ecosystems and suppliers need to create their products accordingly.
You don’t need to care about bindings, items, etc., to add an accessory to Apple Home.

Instead, we (OH) have to accommodate to what suppliers dictate and develop the bindings according to whatever they offered. This is what brings the intrinsic complexity mentioned by @rlkoshak.

I’m not saying this is bad, I’m just pointing out the reality.

However, I agree OH is not (and will never be) the kind of tool that a user who wants something simple will use. Such a user will definitely opt for Apple, Amazon, or google’s solution where they only have to download an app to their phones and get going.
Who with such expectations, no technical knowledge (or the desire to try and acquire it), and their five senses would even consider setting up a server to run the application in the first place?
I see OH more as a competition (we may not be aggressive competitors but the single fact of existing as a tool makes us competitors) to platforms such as Control4, Savant, etc.

Sorry, but this “That’s the way it is, and there is nothing we can do about it”, sounds to pessimistic to me. I am no one giving up fast and as I managed to get around with OH since 1.8 already without beeing a developer and beeing too familiar with all the things “recommended” I think I am a quite good example that this is possible. You and others so often helped me, when I got stuck, and yes, there is a learning curve and now I am quite brave to try out things I never expected to be able to do in the past. But there are still hurdles I cannot overcome and I see hurdles I did overcome in the past or constantly overcome, that show room for improvements. Improvements that could lead to a broader user basis (and more active members) by making things more simple.

E.G. when you say that no one can foresee which of the 350! combinations a user might be interested in, and that there cannot be any “How to start”, I must object. I do not know, if there is already statistical material available which addon is used how often, but that could be generated and from that there could be a first handful of common use cases on the small combination of some of the most favorite addons derived worth documenting as “How to start” in a classic 80/20 approach. And in the case that notifications via e-mail are included in such a “How to start” (because this is used most, I do not know if this is true) and someone prefers Signal, so what. He/she will have a first working notification solution available after following this “How to start”. And a hint like “And there are lots of bindings for other notification solutions like Signal, … available” would then lead to a next step. But keep in mind: The system is already fully functioning! And with the aquired knowledge about e-mail notifications from the “How to start” it will be much easier for a new user to understand what is necessary to get notifications also via other services. And with the already working e-mail notifications there is no frustration that “Notifications are too complex in OH, I look for something else” and the user gets every time in the world to succeed with the next step without any “I have to get notifications” feeling.

And this “this is a first viable solution” would also work for other components to include in such a “How to start”, like taking one or two most used standards like Zigbee and z-wave (has to be derived from statistics) with some often used devices, one persistence, concentrate on main UI and maybe add a second GUI like HABpanel or the Android/iOS App, … What exactly to include does not matter but should just be derived from statistics. But the “How to start” should lead to a first little working system that covers some general aspects (e.g. lights, wallsockets, motion detection and doors/windows) and some general knowledge that would allow a new user to buy the next device for the already implemented binding or decide for and implement another binding. And if such a “How to start” leads someone without any clue to buy some z-wave devices first, as they are covered by the “How to start”, instead of going for Zigbee, so what! If he or she later finds out that they would prefer Homematic in the future (as I did), nothing ist lost, thanks to OH, covering “everything”.

Let’s get back on topic :slight_smile:
If openHAB marketing is lacking, what can you do to promote it.
Lacking = not enough. So we need more of it. Streamers, YouTubers, they go after what gives views.
Are you following openHAB news?
Have you following openHAB on twitter?
If not, do it now: https://x.com/openhab?s=21&t=gXAY9cXXrIJE7SiTBzMD6w

Are you subscribed to openHAB on Reddit?
If not do it now: https://reddit.com/r/openhab/s/pbQj9rE13M

And don’t be another lurker. Interact. Press like. Share the content. Leave a comment saying “thank you, keep up the good work.”

Would you like to see openHAB visible in other platforms? Say which!
Do you share openHAB news about upcoming updates, changes and so on on your public profiles?
If not, start doing it. Don’t know how? Copy what others are doing!

Do you want to support others efforts but don’t know how? Share their content in all of the previously mentioned points and even more!

Are you in a position to use openHAB in a school or work project? Document it, make a presentation, share it everywhere. Did you see others doing the same? Share it everywhere!

I can’t actually believe that I’m sharing my LinkedIn profile here but heck, if it helps why not:
Example 1) Pedro Liberal on LinkedIn: #openhab #esphome #influxdb #arduino #arduinoproject #esp32…

Example 2)

Example 3)

Example 4)

These are normal people, posting their personal projects, and sharing them with others, improving openHAB marketing every day on their own.

Is this not what we are we discussing here really?

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I doubt, there is data available. But I am with you. I think we could easily make a best guess.
What are the top 3 categories (in terms of items linked) and their key players which are integrated in openHAB among our users?
I guess it is

  • Light
    o Zwave, Zigbee, KNX?
    o Shelly
    o Hue
  • Rollershutters
    o Zwave, Zigbee, KNX?
    o Shelly
  • third one?
    o vendor name?

(Probably most of us started with these two categories.)
If we added a few more, I am sure we have covered 80% of a „typical“ setup

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this question was already asked and answered. There is no such data available and it will not be.
This would mean a lot of effort, cause we would need to buIld an opt-in, cause GDPR does not alow this the other way round.

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We should not think too complicated. If this data is not available and if noone wants to go the way to generate it in an automated way because of GDPR questions (BTW: I could support on this subject), then let us just follow @Oliver2 approach. A “Best Guess” is a lot more than nothing and it would be so easy to start a thread like: “What was your start with OH? Please name the first devices you implemented and the bindings and addons you used for it?” and wait some days until there is some feedback. And then you just count and think about what quick wins you can generate in a little system out of these components, by eventually adding one or two more components that are easy to use and understand but will give the big “WOW”, so that a new user is convinced that his decision for OH was the right one. And thinking about more then one such “showcase”: A lot of things will be the same even if you change some components, and the great thing with the concept of OH is, that in the end we are talking about items to use. And to explain how to write a rule that sends you an e-mail when the wallsocket behind the tumbler has sent a number of consumptions values that show that the tumbler has finished, you do not be specific with the model of the wall socket or the protocol it uses. You just need the item with the consumption values comming from “some thing connected via some channel to some binding”, representing either a Homematic or a Fibaro z-wave or a Philips HUE wall socket. And if you know that in another showcase Signal is used for notifications you can include a link to a use case in that showcase and tell the reader, that he can see how use Signal instead of e-mail following this link.

My opinion is based on my years of experience helping new users get up and running on this forum (and the Google forums that came before that).

I think you’ll find that even your reduced set is not going to be too large to handle, not only to create in the first place but to maintain.

But, as above, you’ve identified a problem and think you have a solution. Hurray! Go get busy! No one here is going to stop you.

I will note that the Getting Started Tutorial was intended to walk someone through all the major concepts of OH needed to build a working system.

I’d add also subscribe to the more general home automation stuff as well and participate there. That’s really how we are going to get the word out. Just interacting with OH stuff is only going to be seen by people already interested in OH.

:face_with_symbols_over_mouth:

This is what we do (or at least try to do) now!

Has anyone on this thread actually gone through the Getting Started Tutorial? Looked at the discussion threads that lead up to Getting Started and the concepts, concerns, et al that went into it? Has any attention at all been paid to the work that has been done thus far? I can provide links on request, though you all should have already read the Getting Started Tutorial.

All these new ideas aren’t new. We’ve hashed them over and over again in different guises and different ways.

I’m more than willing to admit we need help with Getting Started. The docs are not perfect and need major attention. There is always more we can do and we can do it better.

But it is getting annoying that all that work I and many others have put in to solve exactly this problem is being completely ignored. And then in the end, after rejecting all that prior work and going around and around, you come to the exact same conclusion.

I think I need to bow out of this thread.

If anyone needs anything from me, tag me. Good luck!

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@rlkoshak I have gone through the Getting Started Tutorial.
Great work indeed, and it looks like huge amout of time was spent on it.

Unfortunately, in my opinion, it’s way too long to read: it’s 18 full sections (!!) that will probably take several afternoons to read and to follow.
Plus there is plenty of advanced stuff: if it’s a “getting started” why should I bother with topics like “advanced things”, “custom widgets”, and several type of creating rules (even advanced ones)?

I really think that OH is missing:

  • a 1h- max 2h Getting Started Tutorial from “zero to hero” to be able to configure at least 1 widget in 1 page and 1 graph to represent some data
  • (much more complicated to do, I know) an onboarding wizard /discovery mechanism FOR BEGINNERS that brings the user from zero to having an item configured, possibily with auto-discovery of bindings (this is WIP, I know) and auto-creation/connection of items (like it was in PaperUI in OH2)

I think this could help new users to have an idea of how OH works and - very important aspect - have some immediate reward after downloading it.
Later on they can cover more advanced/manual configurations using the other guides/manuals.

(I am already contributing as binding developer/code owner: so -sorry- I cannot invest more time on OH other than that)

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Imagine how much longer it would have been if I had included text based configs like many wanted.

Because, as of right now, that is the only place the overall process for doing those things are documented at all. Nowhere else in the docs is the overall step-by-step process covered. For example, nowhere else is the overall process of working with an add-on like MQTT/HTTP/Exec where you have to create the Bridge and the Things and the Channels is captured in a step-by-step manner. You get a couple of sentences in the add-on docs and that’s it.

As for the rules, in addition to the above, it’s because not everything is possible with simple UI rules. At the time Getting Started was written Blockly was not capable of doing everything either. So it was important to show users who bump up against limitations how to get past those limitations. Otherwise there was too great of a chasm between Getting Started and actually accomplishing what the users need to. Also, if there is one takeaway from the advanced rules page, it’s RTFM. If that whole page were reduced to a sentence or two saying “RTFM for the language of choice” I’d be happy. But then we still need to capture how to write Script Actions/Script Conditions in the UI somewhere and that’s not anywhere else in the docs.

Now that Blockly is basically feature complete coupled with the addition of the Rules page under Concepts and the Building Pages and Creating Personal Widgets pages under UIs I can definitely see the argument for many of those pages mentioned being removed or reduced, on the contingency that no actual content is lost because still, there is a lot in those pages that is not captured anywhere else.

Overall, the challenge is the rest of the OH docs are reference docs. They are places where you go to look stuff up. They are not How-To Tutorials. Getting Started is, for now, the only place in the official docs where there is any step-by-step how to do X documentation at all. That’s why it’s so long. It has to cover the step-by-step for almost everything.

Could it be broken up? Sure! I’d support a PR that does that, maybe even be able to help a bit.

However, if we just cut stuff out without making sure that content is moved somewhere else, the docs IMO become worse, not better.

And, I’ll mention it again, I’ve an open PR (link above) to completely rework the rules documentation. And once again I’ll request volunteers. All contributions, no matter how small, are welcome!

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@rlkoshak Your work and time spend is highly appreciated and I really look up to someone like you being so much into such a complex system. Most answers I got here over the years came from you, and I know that I can always count on you. The least I want, is making you angry.

Talking about marketing does not mean not to value what has been done already and it does not mean starting from scratch leaving excelent things behind, ignoring great technical experts, deleting things from existing documents that cannot be found somewhere else, …

But it is a well known and often seen fact, that people with a great technical background think in technical details and complexity and explain things on a complexity level that has prerequisites only few, new to a subject and interested in something from a “what can I do with it?” approach has or is willing to build up before knowing what this will be good for and if it is really worth spending time for, unless it is clear, that it will fulfill personal needs.

And therefore - in my eyes - we need more material on a low level to make people interested in OH, let them have a first success very fast, let them take quick wins, and then they will see, that OH is worth spending more time on the technical backgroud. I went through the getting Started Tutorial several times and it helped me a lot. It is great if you are already infected by the OH virus. But I am with @massi It is much to much to overcome the first hurdle on the way to become a new OH user, when we think about the time to spend for it, before a new user will see a first payoff.

Therefore I support the idea of showcases or whatever it will be named not as “making it better”, but adding one step below to what is already there as a marketing instrument. A guided tour to score the first goal leaving everything out that is not necessary to get there but constanty naming possible further steps, alternatives and where to find more backgroud information. And when I write “support” I mean also spending time and brain on it. Not because I am a big OH hero (I am absolutely not), but because I know and experienced that you can get great payoffs out of OH even with a limited background and which hurdles you have to overcome to get there (and learn more and more on the way). Years ago I tried to support in the docs, but had to realise that my knowledge was too limited to really help there. But on a marketing level this seems possible and I just can offer to become part of it when some people find together to start with it.

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OK, fine. So whose going to do it?

Everyone with all these ideas on how to make the Getting Started Tutorial better are too busy or too concerned about not being good enough to do it.

You already don’t like the way I did it (note, I wasn’t trying to defend what I did in Getting Started, just trying to explain how it got to where it is) and if I were to do it now you’re going to get more of the same likely. You’ll have to wait too as I’m focusing my time not spent here on the forum on the Rules docs, a problem I’m trying to solve in openhab-js, documenting my experiences with willow and little ESP-box, and maintaining and supporting my own rule templates and openhab_rules_tools.

I intended to rework Getting Started before OH 4 release. I didn’t even manage to create the Issue.

So who’s going to do it?

I see tons of great concrete ideas here. I also see lots of “not it!” (including me). We have great, concrete, actionable ideas here.

Where I’m frustrated though is all this focus on “if only there were just one tutorial to get someone up and running.” which then becomes “oh, we’ll just point them to some other tutorial for anything that doesn’t fit.”

That’s exactly what we do now and it’s the overall philosophy of the OH docs in the first place. I’m not convinced this is going to lead us anywhere else than to where we are now.

If you look back at the discussion that happened in writing the Getting Started Tutorial, I was against using Hue as the first example in Things. Not everyone will have Hue and I wanted to choose only bindings, Things, etc. that do not have external requirements. That way anyone could follow the tutorial, follow exactly those steps with nothing but what they have installed, and have a working OH configuration.

The problem is you can’t actually do anything with that configuration. There’s no “home” in that automation.

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It seems auto discovery of bindings/things is one of the major differences with the other popular home automation system. The idea of automatic discovery has already been considered. Is this something that is a breaking change that would require waiting for a major release? Would individual binding developers need to do anything for their bindings to work? I realize it can’t work with all bindings. Could this at least be used for some of the more popular bindings?

Here is a link to the github (still open) issue started in 2021 (by Kai) discussing the idea (that Rich already linked)
https://github.com/openhab/openhab-core/issues/2645

Edit: I like the idea of a Addon Suggestion Service

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Tbh I don’t see the alleged benefit of auto discovery and installation of bindings.
Why not just make an additional step in the startup assistant with a simple question
“What manufacturer of devices are you using?”. And some kind of searchable drop down selection thing.
Even if I am absolutely new I know that I am e.g. using shelly devices.
Or “What kind of wireless technology do you use?”.
The startup assistant would then install the bindings.
This would bring complexity down and auto discovery of things already works for some/most of the bindings.
With two or three questions it should be possible to “discover” most of the needed bindings.
And even if not - if there already is an installed binding the new user will know where to look for more bindings because the existing ones can be used as an example.

I am aware that it’s not as elegant as real auto discovery, but it should be very easy to implement and typically binding installation is only done once so I don’t think it’s worth all the extra effort.