Is contextual help to the GUI a feasible goal in Openhab 3? I see this pattern of help in pfSense, FreeNAS/TrueNAS and other successful open-source projects (Especially GUI front-ends for famously hard back-ends such as pf, zfs etc.). It seems like a no-brainer to bring these good ideas to OH in the form of help hyperlinks at the top of pages, and/or a (?) icon button near each GUI element to be filled out with examples/concepts etc…
No surprise, OH3 is a big improvement over OH2 in terms of ease-of-use. IMO the word that best describes the difference is ‘discoverable’. In OH3, one can largely discover how to achieve the addictive ‘hello world’ moment in the UI, and then add/learn incrementally, enabling repeated success and repeated rewards with small gains (keeping the process addictive to new users). OH2 of course had too much prerequisite knowledge to get started, turning off new users. Kudos to the OH team for this progress!
That said, the thing I keep wishing for as I discover OH3 is better contextual help, and more contextual examples and contextually significant concepts (As a supplement to OH guides/tutorials, and big-picture concepts). For example, as an OH noob, it was not clear to me that you can make item labels contain item variables. e.g. label=“My String Value is [%s]” or label=“My float Value is [%.1f]”. It’s a painfully simple idea, but you can’t search or ask a question about something you don’t know exists. Yes, it’s documented “on the Internet”, but how much aggravation and hair-pulling could have been saved with the right contextual example?
To this end, as I dig in to OH3, I’m happy to make specific suggestions, and offer my help in writing contextual help wording (in English) for such things (assuming it can be incorporated in a contextual and usable way).
Just a trivial example:
Hints in the GUI would have been very helpful while I was setting up an HTTP thing (and its links & channels). For example, after figuring out that I needed a Regex transformation service to parse the endpoint’s response, the regex transformation UI element showed a nice example of matching a temperature with a regex: .=(\d.\d*).*
Great. However, it was unclear that THIS was also the correct place to cast a string into its correct decimal precision, and that sed-style substitutions were even allowed: e.g. s/.=(\d)(\d$)/$1.$2/g
It’s not self evident for a transformation called REGEX (versus being called SED), nor is it clear exactly which character classes are supported.
I think it’s safe to say that noobs, particularly OH noobs that are NOT simultaneously technical noobs are in a good position to know when and where hints and examples can be productive to help/retain new adopters. Of course the goal is to keep the pain threshold low enough for continued interest so that OH can compete for new adopters interest.
FWIW: I’m a new user of Openhab, but I’ve bee following IOT and following OpenHab since Kai first talked about it in 2014 on the FLOSS podcast. The OH architecture is pretty brtilliant IMO.