User Friendly Interface What's good and what could be better

Hello All,

I’m a design technologist (a guy who is not a brilliant designer but knows this and that about UX and interfaces. At the same time never deeply understood object oriented programming but loves technology and can script things together with extensive use of stackoverflow), and I’d like to help make openHAB a better platform.

I have two objectives for openHAB:

  1. Simplify on boarding process to maximize openHABs reach for broader audience - with its UI and external materials.
  2. Simplifying the UI, make it intuitive and more attractive. Less UI is more. Not sacrificing tech savvy users.

Before doing so, I would like to ask couple of questions to the community and make the design process transparent and be solving the user needs and issues.

You can answer below, DM or fill out the survey:

Vision for openHAB

  1. What is your vision for openHAB? Where do you want it to be in 1-2 years?
  2. What defines success for platform like openHAB?
  3. What are the potential pitfalls for platform like openHAB?

Value proposition for the platform

  1. What problems do users have that openHAB solves?
  2. What is the core value proposition for openHAB?
  3. What similar platforms you use?
  4. What are their relative strength / weaknesses?
  5. How is openHAB different?


  1. What frustrations / pain points do you have with the platform’s interface?
  2. What is your typical usage of the interface throughout the day? How often do you interact with it?
  3. What are your daily tasks? What do you check in the interface?
  4. What goals you have that interface has to communicate in order to be successful?
  5. What’s missing in your current interface and this platform could provide?
  6. If you had a “magic wand” and could wish for anything to make the interface better, what would it be?

Thanks for your time.




  1. I’d like to see the ability to distribute libraries for Rules, the ability to do everything necessary through PaperUI as an option (helpful for new users) and retain support for all text based configs for more advanced users.

  2. Continued use and development. It’s not a commercial project so it is hard to point at anything beyond continued growth and use.

  3. The standard things: Innovator’s dilemma, one of the big players in this space makes some headway and becomes more of a standard, a competitor open source project becoming the go to solution.


  1. Connect home automation devices from more different technologies than any other solution I’m aware of (maybe Node Red or Home Assistant support as many). Doesn’t require a cloud service, but offers one if desired.

  2. Very active and helpful user community. Lots of options to accomplish many tasks. Exceptionally powerful in capability.

  3. I started with Home Genie but was unhappy with the pace of growth (it was largely a one man operation so shouldn’t have been surprised). I haven’t looked at it in three years though, don’t know where it is now. OH is my only automation hub.

  4. Can’t really answer since OH is my only recent experience.

  5. ibid.


  1. Not everything that is needed is possible through PaperUI. In particular the ability to add tags through PaperUI causes a lot of inexperienced users much pain when they want to use Alexa or Google Assistant.
    The Control tab in PaperUI confuses a lot of users. They expect it to be like the sitemap or Habpanel but it is not intended for that use. The Experimental (Next Gen) Rules Engine is not quite yet complete enough for general use but many new users get pretty far along before they discover this fact. Habmin has a graphical Rules creation page that hasn’t been updated since before OH 2.0 that users happen upon and get frustrated when it doesn’t work.The lack of any support what-so-ever for 1.x version bindings in PaperUI.

  2. I purposefully design my home automation to require as little manual interaction as possible. For the most part everything just happens when it needs to based on state and events. Physical wall switches still work and the home automation recognizes when something like a light is manually overridden at the switch. My sitemap is primarily for monitoring and debugging and not used for day-to-day control of the house. Some things like the garage door openers and lights can be controlled through voice using Google Assistant. So day to day I rarely directly interact with the automation. It just works and is only noticed when it stops working.

  3. I don’t. The automation controls the HVAC, lights, and garage door openers based on events, voice commands, or through external events like commands from Tasker or IFTTT. Mostly stuff just does what it is supposed to. I only have to monitor the sitemap when I’m adding to the home automation or debugging a problem. Alerts for problems and reminders (e.g. open doors) get sent directly to me.

  4. If I have to resort to the OH sitemap for anything I consider it a home automation failure.

  5. One much asked for need is authorization and authentication and the ability to finely control access to sitemaps and/or individual parts of the sitemap based on user. A good app for Android and iOS that has the same abilities to receive alerts from and detect whether it can access OH over the LAN or needs to go to the external URL but uses HABPanel instead of sitemap. The ability to import/export Things and Items to/from OH 2 (e.g. export PaperUI created Items to .items files, import a .items file into PaperUI). The ability to create sitemaps using a WYSIWYG UI. Complete the Experimental Rules Engine so we can write Rules through the UI. In short, implement enough so new users can go “all GUI” if they want. Of course, don’t leave the experienced long term users behind.

  6. Complete the Experimental Rules Engine and support Scratch like Rules building as an option.

Mr. Kamil Sir, welcome aboard. Very interesting discussion you are starting here. I feel this is a broad survey that we all are interested in, not for money and personal benefit of course. I feel we will get a larger response if users could respond anonymously. The previous employer I worked with had this anonymous survey site where people could feel free to respond in detail or just yes/no questions.

@kai can we translate a thread into a survey using this community software? If not, can we migrate this to a survey site, that would be more productive I feel.

Hi @diyha - If this helps, you can find a survey here:

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