Starting from scratch, should i use Sitemaps / Pages or Dashboard?

Hi everyone,
Coming from Home Assistant and wanted to switch to OpenHAB as it feels a lot more solit and stable, i am SW engineer so no issues with the setup, i am using OH4 on K3s on an rasp. I was able to create Things, Items and some routines but now i would like to make this “visible”, what i need is:

  • Access from Android and iPhone
  • Access from a wall mounted tablet
  • Remote access (either via openhab cloud or my own)

So i saw there are 3 UI options and i do not know what should i do, is BasicUI going to be deprecated? Starting now should i go all in for Pages also for the tablet or better to use Dashboard for it?




I have been throguh most of the UIs and personally I would recommend the Main UI (pages etc.). It has a learning curve as the implementation of vue.js and css is a little confusing but once you get the hang it is quite alright.
If you use the semantic model, you will have quick access to your rooms/devices/properties on the overview page. You can nest other pages as popups and so on.

The only downside in my opinion is, that depending on the device you display Main UI on it might not adapt well without extra fiddling, but most standard screen sizes are ok.

Thanks Bob!! I already started with Pages and i have no issues adapting to JS / CSS concepts although some things feel already a bit frustrating (like not being able to use a map widget even if having a map page works pretty well). Will go through the Semantic model docs then, if you have some tutorial to point to outside of the official docs it will be appreciated

Eventually it will be, but it is left in place for backwards compat reasons, my guess is it will stay until the work to keep it increases too much.

Pages and also V4 is the way I would do it so you can learn the latest stuff.

The docs are the best place to read first, but make sure you are reading the V4 version. The very top left of the screen should be a button to change to Latest V4.0.0 and not the V3 Stable. Then you can also check in the forum making sure to consider how old a post is.

Thanks Matt,
Very good feedback, yes i am running v4 and checking v4 docs, i think i got Semantic model right, only thing i feel a bit frustrating is the way Widgets are created in pages, i think it would be easier to use some jinja like template and HTML rather than YAML which is a bit too confusing for complex setups, at least for me, also using Jinja or other template engines would allow testing widgets “live” in an editor.

Also i think (but i might got it wrong) that not having a way to specify input parameters for widgets makes sharing difficult because item names needs to match regexps inside the widget itself rather than having a nice drop down menu where i can select an item by type (like having a “temperature” input and then you select it when you add a widget.

Anyway everything else seems SUPER smooth and super clean compared to HA not sure why openhab has a smaller community to be honest, its so much more professional than HA

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Not really, take a look at the „main_widget“ project which is using semantic metadata for identifying items.
If you want to add items as parameters, this can be done in the code tab of any page.


I’m not so sure about that. In OH 4 there are several great additions added to sitemaps (support for material, f7, and iconify icons and a new input element that accepts free text). There are lots of users of sitemaps, even among the maintainers.

By Dashboard do you mean HABPanel?

Over all I think it depends on how much control you want over every little detail and how much work you are willing to put into it.

Sitemaps are super easy and quick to set up but you have limited customization ability. It’s just one Item per cell, two cells per row (one on small screens).

HABPanel gives you the utmost control down to the underlying JavaScript. But it’s not responsive and not used as much any more.

MainUI Pages sits somewhere in the middle. If you don’t want to do too much work to set it up, you get a lot just by putting your Items into the semantic model. But you also have a lot of freedom to combine and build unique widgets to exactly meet your needs, if you are willing to dive into the underlying F7 framework options. MainUI Pages are also responsive, unlike HABPanel which required you to build a separate panel for each screen size. There is also a growing collection of third party widgets you can install and use from the marketplace so you are not entirely on your own for creating the widgets.

Note that there is also HABot which has some relatively light weight NLP processing that lets you interact with OH using natural language queries and commands and build up adhoc views of your Items on demand.

It’s all JSON under the covers. YAML was the most straightforward compromise between raw JSON and something at least approaching human readable that can be used across the board for all OH entities, not just widgets. But if you have a better way, Issues are always welcome.

This confuses me because we can test the widgets live in the widget editor. When developing a widget under Developer Tools → Widgets the panel on the right shows the live view for what you are writing. There’s a ctrl-p lets you set the properties so you can test it out with different configurations.

In the “default x wdiget” metadata form for Items there too you see the live impact of your configurations at the top of the screen.

Where are you not seeing the live updates from your changes?

You really should go through the Getting Started Tutorial again(?), particularly Pages - Custom Widgets | openHAB in addition to in the main docs Creating Personal Widgets | openHAB. You absolutely can define input parameters for widgets.

Are you trying to create widgets on the Layout pages themselves? If so, yah, don’t do that. Create custom widgets using the tool sited above instead.

Also, I’ll mention the developer sidebar (alt-shift-d) which includes an expression tester which lets you build up and test widget expressions.

We don’t market ourselves and the nexus of activity is here on our forum (or if you speak German there’s the Facebook page and I think a Discord, I don’t so I don’t go there). It’s all volunteer effort here and we are not great about marketing and reach out. We are also pretty laid back and non-competitive. If HA works better for you, great! We’re not going to try to dissuade you or bad talk the other platforms. That puts us at a disadvantage I think but we seem to be OK with that (volunteers are requested if someone wants to take on the task of outreach, marketing, and outside community involvement).


I was indeed creating widgets in the layout page, thats why i had a so bad experience, will go through docs again (which BTW are pretty good). After what you said i think i will go with Pages, its modern and gives me freedom to have the same UI across all devices, i noticed the Android app has a switch to always use Pages and things works very well (and again, things are SOLID, like an home automation should be)

I really don’t feel i could contribute yet but when i will have a much better understanding of the product i will do my best to put some code in as i am definitely not a marketing type. I usually work in Kotlin nowadays but going back to Java its not that bad after Streams.

Many thanks for your reply, very nice community here!

P.S. HABot is super awesome, i didnt see it, thanks for the tip!

The Android app is in Kotlin. :wink:

There’s also some JavaScript and jRuby work if you wanted to contribute to the helper libraries for those rules languages. Docs are always in need of updating and work.

We’ve lots of places to contribute. :smiley:

Welcome aboard!

Welcome to openHAB!

Note that some people report exactly the opposite experience. Anecdotally, people who switch from HA to OH often mention platform stability as a primary motivation, whereas people who go from OH to HA are looking for device support and updates. These are both perfectly reasonable things that reflect the user’s subjective experience. Dissatisfaction is very motivating.

Every once in awhile we get someone who feels the need to rant about how terrible OH is as they walk out the door. I can’t say I approve of that attitude, but I appreciate that it’s the result of their built-up frustration. I like to let them know that they’re always welcome back if they change their minds.

I think it depends a lot on the background as well, working in IT and SW i can recognize how important it is to have a very well thought structure before diving into implementation and i like the idea around the ontology model that OpenHab has, it makes things very solid, some others might just look at features and how fast things are implemented and there HA might have an edge for sure, i just feel i am spending my time better in openhab since things changes less and in a more predictable way at least thats what i got from the last releases, lets see how it goes and again thanks for the feedback :slight_smile:

Just a warning about the next release. OH has a policy of not allowing major breaking changes between major releases. So, for example, between 3.3 and 3.4 there’s mostly just bug fixes and additions.

However, on a new major release (e.g. 3.x to 4.0) breaking changes are allowed, and there are a number that have been made in the upcoming 4.0 release (in a few weeks perhaps) so your upgrade experience might be a little bumpier with the next release. A new upgrade tool has been added to take some of the burden off the end users but you might still have a little more work for this upgrade than you experienced previously).

But 4.0 is looking to be an excellent new release, though with fewer architectural changes than we saw between 1.0 and 2.0, and between 2.0 and 3.0. For example, 2.0 introduced Things and the REST API and a whole new API for developing add-ons. 3.0 introduced a new rule engine, MainUI, and integration of the semantic model. 4.0’s user facing breaking changes are relatively minor in comparison. But there is lots of great stuff in 4.0.

He is already using 4 which IMHO is better to use and avoid the changes you are speaking about which he is. Just need to ensure your looking at the V4 documentation so it matches your version as I mentioned in a previous reply. To anyone not using V4 yet, when you have some spare time anytime from now is a good time to make the move over as all bug fixes and improvements are only happening on V4.

Yes this is how I feel as well as a long time user and someone that trials HA every now and then, I find I have to go looking for where something was moved to before I can continue working after an update. You find that HA throws out features that users want without any discussion as 1 person at the top is dictating the direction, openHAB tends to wait until no more developers want to keep a feature working then it is removed. HA put in place tracking to send usage statistics back to the devs so they could better manage the kick back that cutting out features was causing.

No one can say when sitemaps will be removed or if it will ever because of this, and if multiple devs are using it then it will stick around.

That is openHABs background. It was written as a framework for people to write their own automation platforms with using what is/was eclipse smart home. But to speed up development, this was stopped only around 2 years(?) ago when V3 was released. The core framework has benefited from the thought and design process to keep it flexible and well structured. If you start doing development the whole lot is documented with javadocs and a ton of info in the eclipse forum which helps as the framework stays consistent and just grows.

Yes it is an edge but it is also a downside. I found that when you upgrade you may get fixes in some areas that you were waiting for, whilst other areas broke. The deal breaker for me was you then have to choose which version to use, and if you have never had a version that fully works to roll back to, your out of luck. In openHAB you can use the core you want and swap out the bindings/addons individually to build your own working setup should you get hit with a bug in one area. In HA you have to roll the whole lot back missing out on the new stuff until a better build comes along.

The fast changes mean the forum, youtube videos and documentation are often not matching up with the software causing wasted time and frustration with the little spare time you have when you get home.

If they ever change these two aspects I don’t like, then their software would be a lot more tempting. I hope they do, as I like the ability to choose and having more choice in opensource software.

Some people say that HA just ‘clicks’ better and makes more sense to their thought patterns and this is probably true for some, just as it was the reverse for you. Also HA has a lot better first steps experience so people think its easier based on the first hour experience, but I find both around the same learning curves after the first few hours are up. If anything openHAB is more consistent now we got rid of V1 bindings so they can all be used and setup via the UI as well as textual ways also work.

Marketing and also explaining what is new and where/how to find and use the new stuff is probably a big area that openHAB can grow and learn from HA. All it takes is some volunteers to step up and for this, you do not need to know how to program.

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Exactly, what i really enjoy now is the fact that i do not need to use Open HAB UI, i can use Open HAB as a HUB only, i am removing all the bindings for my devices es Sonos/Hue… from all the devices like Alexa Skills, Google, Siri and bind them with OpenHAB only. Now instead of having tons of Hue devices and scene in my Alexa device i have a very clean set of Rooms, Lights and Scenes i export from open hab, this alone is worth the learning curve. I need to setup only one extension and i see the same devices on all the smart hubs, this is so cool.

Now since i have a SmartBox Hub 2 device at home and there is no binding for it i am diving into binding implementation on spare time, let’s see how far can i go. It has matter support but right now but i do not want to use Alexa Matter bridge as a source

Sit back everyone while I tell the tale of openHAB and how it got here.

Way back in the beginning openHAB 1.x was pretty monolithic. Even the add-ons config file was just one great big .ini file (if memory serves). There was no concept of Things and certainly no discovery of devices.

Then over at least a year’s long effort OH was re-architected to better support device discovery and more than file based configs. At that time, to encourage commercial development pretty much all that makes up openHAB core as well as a few critical add-ons and UIs were contributed to the newly formed Eclipse Smarthome (ESH) project under the Eclipse Foundation. The advantage is that the Eclipse Foundation and license are such that it’s easier for commercial entities to build on the code because all commits are signed off by all contributors with explicit permission to use the code (the SCO lawsuits were still going on back then so this was and remains a concern).

All was great for a couple of years and there even were some commercial contributors to the project (PaperUI was just such a contribution for those old OH 2.x users who remember it). However, eventually the commercial contributions dried up and openHAB was stuck with a bifurcated project, with core living over on Eclipse Smarthome and openHAB doing all sorts of work to package and rework that for our “flavor” of Eclipse Smarthome (for example, the ESH deploys on Eclipse as the OSGI container and openHAB has always run on Apache Karaf). In the end, keeping up two separate projects when the only people left contributing were the same people no longer made sense. So we left the Eclipse foundation and brought everything under one umbrella project.

So OH 3 had to happen because at a minimum OH had to stop using Eclipse Smarthome in the package names of the classes. And that alone was a breaking change. OH 3 also introduced a new Java version, a whole new build system, some new governing structures, and the end of support for OH 1 add-ons. Thankfully it also included a lot of great user facing additions too so it’s all good, but it was a huge effort that took over a year IIRC. OH 4 this time is going much more smoothly.

And I think the fact that OH 4 is going so smoothly is proof that the work that went into OH 3 was worth it and well decided.


@johnuopini an option you should consider in your analysis and decision (not saying you should opt for it) is Apple home app of Google home.

I went that route from a convenience perspective and WAF perspective.
I spent too much time fiddling with UI’s in the past. Apple home and Google home are far from perfect but it is an option worthwhile considering IMO

On balance, I prefer sitemaps to the other UIs. They are pretty simple and quick to setup, and are perfectly functional. Their primary disadvantage (from my perspective) is they are not as customisable as pages. Pages take significantly more effort to setup however (relative to sitemaps), so I guess it depends on what you want to achieve.

My view: unless you want a fancy and customised dashboard, stick with sitemaps. Sitemaps are quick and easy, and allow you to control the stuff you want to control. They are also to some extent customisable (you can change icons, simple layouts, popups, etc), and can be used on tablets too. I personally would only use pages for a flashy dashboard I wanted significant control over, and as I don’t need that I am happy with sitemaps :upside_down_face:.

I spent too much time fiddling with UI’s in the past. Apple home and Google home are far from perfect but it is an option worthwhile considering IMO

What i like about openhab is that you can create your semantic model and then export devices to Google, Alexa whatever keeping the same logic, scenes and so on. So my wife won’t be using OH directly but through Apple Homekit or Alexa still i would like to play with it to create a good set of dashboards for wall display/control and myself

Since i am still in the experimental phase on the UI side i will check sitemaps too, i was worried they might get discontinued but my understanding is that both HabPanel and Sitemaps will stay

Sitemaps are clearly not discontinued.
There are even significant enhancements planned in OH4.

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