Unfortunately OH is in a period of transition right now. We have a mix of OH 1 bindings and OH 2 bindings. For the older 1.9 version bindings the only way to use them is through text files. For the 2 version bindings you have the option of creating and managing Things and Items from text files or through PaperUI.
Eventually PaperUI and/or Habmin will become fully capable and at that time these UIs will become the "official recommended approach." But until that occurs what you have done thus far is perfectly fine. Do not worry too much about breaking changes to your config at this point. The config is pretty stable and the database is stored in a JSON database so you can, if needed, go in and fix things yourself. And likely if there are any such changes from this point forward, there will be a script or something that will be developed shortly after the change, if not published with the change, to migrate your config.
There have been a lot of changes since last October. So a lot of the discussion above has become OBE. For example, the old MapDB that used to store the config changes made in PaperUI has been replaced by a JSON Database. The upgrade process has been fixed so upgrades no longer wipe out your bindings, requiring them to be reinstalled. And many more improvements.
So, at this point I think you will find that many/perhaps most new comers use PaperUI for all OH 2 things and Designer/text files for all 1.9 bindings stuff and the sitemap.
I personally am a little bit of a special case as I run OH inside Docker. And this means that every time I upgrade I need to wipe out some of my config anyway in order to force the add-ons to update as well. As a result I do the following:
- I use PaperUI to manage autodiscovered Things.
- I use text files for everything else.
As a result I can, if needed, completely wipe out my userdata folder and restart openHAB and I'm back to where I started with minimal effort.
However, now that the configs are stored in a human readable and editable form I will probably change my approach some in the near future. Once there are 2.0 versions of all the core bindings I use I will change to using PaperUI for all Things and Items, perhaps even for writing Rules.
So, in short, there really isn't a best practice right now.
There are no stupid questions here. Home automation is hard and OH is complex. We are happy to help!