UI & UX Improvements - Is there already a Group?

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(Manuel Born) #1

Hi! I am a Newbie here in the OpenHAB community. I am a GUI und UX Designer working already for some years in related fields. I was wondering if there is already a Channel or Group caring about Improvements for UX and UI in openHAB. I solve some things with local based improvements. I run openHAB quiet successfully on a Synology NAS DS215j (under Oracle Java Dev Kit) which solved performance problems in the beginning.

Would be great to start some discussions, sharing ideas around UI/UX improvments here!

(Also it would be nice to add a “ux” tag :slight_smile: )

(Mark) #2

Welcome to the openHAB community!

When I was working (retired now), I had a couple UX designers on my team. They were AWESOME! I’m looking forward to you sharing some of your ideas to improve the openHAB user experience.

@Kai should be able to address your questions about a dedicated UX tag here on the forum, as well as contributing to openHAB in general.

(Manuel Born) #3

found u on linkedin as well :slight_smile:

i quiet would like to wait until there is a group/ channel… because in that case it would make more sense to split a discussion/topic/idea in several parts to keep overview and work on those.

basically the ideas are around creating a setup/start up process in a stepform way… as well as improving parts in openHAB as well like rule editors, txt editors and several things to guide more non-techi users trough set-up things, rules etc.

overall i totally like the current state of openHAB but i found some local fixes in UI very very helpful for myself… i would like to share ideas and work on that!

Thanks Mark for catching up :slight_smile:

(Rich Koshak) #4

I think one thing that will make this a little challenging is there is not one UX in OH, there are several.


  • PaperUI
  • Habmin
  • Text based config files


  • BasicUI
  • ClassicUI
  • HABPanel
  • CometVisu
  • Habmin
  • iOS App
  • Android App

Each is a separate effort maintained by a different set of maintainers, and each does have its own tags on the forum. Any discussion or workgroup on UX will need to take the whole ecosystem of UIs available in OH into account. Don’t get me wrong, I think the conversation is needed and would be great. But when I see “the UX” I get a little concerned because there are many UX depending on the combination of the UIs one uses from the above list (and beyond).

(Kai Kreuzer) #5

@ThomDietrich is actually our expert here and I would leave it to him to decide what is the best place for such tags/labels/categories.

( ) #6

Hey Manuel,

I’ve added the ux tag to this posting. :+1:
Kai was right to mention me here as I am also a big supporter of the idea to improve the UX of openHAB. I believe that many aspects of openHAB are currently not ready/ideal for a general audience due to UX restrictions. For me the main problems are inconsistencies between the different UIs and unclear intended use cases. This covers most openHAB areas, be it documentation, Paper UI or the development process of rules.

Admitting this is easy and not a bad thing. UX is hard to get right and for most developers and tech-savvy users the pure existence of a functionality is more important than its fine tuned UI elements, documentation or intuitiveness in all situations…

With this said, here’s my question for you: What do you want to do about this? :slight_smile: In order to improve the overall UX of openHAB we need to narrow down UX problems, discuss and agree on a solution and implement it. This is a multi-faceted endeavor depending in the cooperation of multiple developers. Quite a challenge.
Where do you want to start? Which “easier” UX issue could we solve now?

Best! Thomas

(Manuel Born) #7

Hi Thomas! Thanks for your reply and input!

Due to i have a couple of years in experience in GUI and UX my thoughts are matching with your understanding and also the faced problems!

I see the basic problems in the inconsistence as well. IMHO this is related to the fact, that most of all open plattform concepts lacks in the adressing of an audience. As i have seen in OpenHAB, i see the efforts in many parts of UI and UX to split the interfaces in two basic groups of users: a) Programming based users and b) WYSIWYG users.
For those several UIs i think first there is the need to clarify the adressed users to specific groups. Like: users with low programming and tech-skills -> more WYSSIWIG and also more experienced Users -> programming mode & experts mode. I see already a lot of efforts in both ways and - personally for me now - i can handle openHAB quiet well.

And i also agree with you on the lack in guidance for Users. My magic (Buzz)words would be: Contextual menues and informations and structurization of the documentation/help.

The UI as understood is a great base for letting the users build on their individual system. Nethertheless here comes the basic problem with unxeperienced users (which are in general the majority of users): the more options - the more decisions are to make. Here i like the thought of concentration on two approaches with the existing UIs: having a) an expert mode where experienced users have control of all the system and b) a simple mode with step up form based set-up process and and eased UI with less options but lots of examples (like readymade panels for import) or set-ups (f.e. 80-90% of all beginners in SmartHome area starts with lightbulbs OR wall plugs…). Said short: The UX work i have in mind, is mostly related to create basic templates and advanced templates.

And i all in all agree with your opinion to narrow down UX improvments in general which have to be discussed.

To start the whole thing :slight_smile: i would start to sketch a workframe for UX which names the different users (e.g. Expert, Beginner) with use cases for some first ideas to get closer to a structure. So widely known that is a UX Guideline / GUI Guideline. And due to it always a good idea for smarter systems: invite the audience here to work also on this, bring input. This is in general also the starting point for any UX projects i do in business! Having an roadmap (as detailed as possible) with a clearly defined vision and aim, its also easier to inspire and aboard devs and techies to a project (the vision is my only magic key for my 3 dev teams i develop software since years…:). even though, creating a script with a clear bearing for the project and having some visualizations helps a lot to avoid a lot of wasted time in experimenting with programmed prototypes (and anyway, nowadays there are tons of slick prototyping solutions like adobe XD to visualize ideas). So i would suggest to start with exactly this: Concetrate on a (communitywide open?) Paper with defines the vision and aims for openHAB clear and identifies lacks and difficulties for the different audiences.

I would really like to work with you and others on improvements in UX, GUI and also share knowledge. Morelike my questions is now (i think you know the openHAB community better) with witch development tools we could start?

btw. for personal further communication i am native german speaking as well :wink:

I might also respond timeshifted due to i have currently two softwares in hot beta-states here and move around in europe a lot. :slight_smile:

I wait to continue with you and others! Its a challenge, for sure - but the harder the challenge, the sweeter the berries you gain in the end. :slight_smile:

I wish you a nice day!

(Manuel Born) #8

…forgot to add that i also experiment a lot with user-based ticketing systems in our business softwares… whitch i definitely would recommend also to consider for openHAB… sorry for the tons o f spelling mistakes also, i am in train and a bit in a rush :wink:

(Manuel Born) #9

Hey Rich! I dont get you wrong! When I speak about UX i adress that to the User Experience in general. UX is not bounded to ONE UI - means: UX can work for several UI (GUI) and audiences, as long as it is well defined and planned in the beginning. I more understood that you mean the several interfaces, or? I have seen the severals ones and also i think i got the basic idea of the specific aim on them. For me one of the basic lacks is, the not-clear-enough defined user roles and UIs. F.e.: The Paper UI has the clear aim to simplify processes and also set-ups, services et ceterea on a “simplified” UI (less programming skills needed there)… but it lacks in the area of an simple panel-set up (witch is the attempt basically of HabPanel then…). For a beginners-user target group (as ONLY for an example to define them that simple :wink: ) here is a lack of infomations and guidance HOW to set up an control panel then for end users… it could be solved with contextual menue integrations and a guidance infosys, but thats only one approach… but i think i see one concern you have and hope i understood the problem right: you agree with me in the inconsistence of those many many different approaches of UIs with the attempt to make any kind of user happy. And basically i see the discussion about as a first great step here! Thank you for your inout and have a nice day! Read you soon, Manuel

(Rich Koshak) #10

Some thoughts:

  • You should go post a thread on Eclipse Smarthome forums as well, probably just point back here. Most of the changes to the UIs would be implemented there and there will need to be buy-in from those developers. The vast majority of them are the Oh developers too, but I don’t know if that is universally the case.

  • Any tools used should be open source and/or readily available to the community for no cost.

  • I think it is a great idea to develop a well defined “officially recommended” UX approach.

  • There really is a little bit of user type definitions in the existing UIs. There really are already three user types in OH and each have a different subset of UIs:

    • Administrators: PaperUI, parts of Habmin, used to monitor and configure OH
    • User Interface Creators: parts of HABPanel, sitemap files, parts of Habmin
    • Home automation users: parts of HABPanel, ComitVisu?, BasicUI, ClassicUI, Phone apps, used to control the home automation system

(Manuel Born) #11

yes. and there i see one of the basic lacks:
For developing a concept for UI AND GUI, first there should be ONE plattform/community to discuss/ to talk about… so thank you for the hint with Eclipse Smarthome… i will try to figure out where exactly is the best place to post and point back to here…

tools i have in mind (i think) are also already in use here, like a wiki-kind-of thing and so on… morelike i also thought about the creative/executive part of designing where i would really like to work togehter with some othere… in my professional daily life, i use a range from sktech, adobe xd and similar to simply create a bit of a better wireframe-prototype with a clickmodel functionality. Thus, for nail down first things and as a base for further discussion about UX, performance, reliability, logic, need, do-ability etc…

There ARE definitions, but they are not clear enough in defining what kind of users. OH is currently clearly for very tech and developing orientated people - and here i would very like the idea to open up to a broader audience. dont get me wrong, but currently for sure its possible to create an own Panel - but only by having at least intermediate skills in programming…

thanks for your shared thoughts again!