Where can I find a tutorial "basic demo-setup"

Hi rpwong and JustinG,

thank you very much for taking time to answer me.

I want to modify my suggestion about the getting started tutorial.
IMHO the introductional explainings becomes easier to understand if the text starts with describing an everyday example with common words and then explains in OpenHAB this is called “…” and this is called “…”. This order starts with the well known and then couples it to the words that are used in a specific way inside openHAB.

There are good reasons to use common words like “thing”, “item”, “channel” for that. Though as the meaning inside OpenHAB is very specific and partially different than the everyday meaning IMHO it is a good idea to take time and textual effort to explain this.

I want to give an example:
Imagine a room inside your house with a double-switch mounted into the wall for switching on/off two different lightbulbs.

Imagine a TV-remote-control with all its keys to switch on/off, change the TV-program, change volume etc.

In OpenHAB such objects like the double-switch, the TV-remote, a single switch etc. are called “things”

Now let’s take a closer look at the “thing” double-switch:
The double-switch is able to

  • switch on/off lightbulb “A”
  • switch on/off lightbulb “B”

Lightbulb “A” and lightbulb “B” can be switched on/off separately and indipendend from each other.
This means the double-switch has two functions.

The same principles apply to the “thing” TV-remote-control.
The “thing” TV-remote-control has a lot of buttons where each button has a different function to

  • increase / decrease volume
  • increase / decrease brightness of the screen
  • change between different TV-programs

The double-switch is able to switch on/off lightbulb “A” and lightbulb “B” independent from each other. In OpenHAB the capability to switch on/off is called a “channel”.
This means the one “thing” double-switch has two “channels”

A wall mounted switch on its own without additional objects is useless. The double-switch is part of a system that has more elements than just the double-switch. There are wires coming from the electrical cabinet which are connected to the double-switch and there are some more wires one end connected to the double-switch the other end connected to the socket of the lamp that holds the lightbulb.

: break :

I think this example illustrates the underlying pattern:

Start with the everyday example and then use the everyday term to explain the OpenHAB term

At this point I’m unsure how to proceed with the explanation.
I’m unsure what the term “item” means.
is it:

  • the graphical representation of the switch on a openHAB-webpage?

  • the graphical representation of the lightbulb on a openHAB-webpage?

  • the lightbulb as the real physical object and the graphical representation of the lightbulb on a openHAB-webpage?

  • something different?

Beeing unsure at this point the other OpenHAB-terms “binding” and “link” remain nebulous for me.

So I would appreciate it very much if you could answer the question above and write an explanation similar to the given example.

best regards Stefan

The Getting Started Tutorial states right up front:

This new user tutorial assumes that you have at least a basic understanding of the concepts of openHAB

That concepts section provides exactly that. For example:

Things are entities that can be physically added to a system. Things may provide more than one function (for example, a Z-Wave multi-sensor may provide a motion detector and also measure room temperature). Things do not have to be physical devices; they can also represent a web service or any other manageable source of information and functionality.

And that is further explained and elaborated upon in the Things Concepts Page.

We have spent the time and textual effort to explain this.

Well, looking at the Concepts section which the Getting Started Tutorial told you to read first

Items represent capabilities that can be used by applications, either in user interfaces or in automation logic. Items have a State and they may receive commands.

and further elaborated upon on the Item’s Concept Page.

From the intro to the concepts page:

Bindings can be thought of as software adapters, making Things available to your home automation system. They are add-ons that provide a way to link Items to physical devices. They also abstract away the specific communications requirements of that device so that it may be treated more generically by the framework.

The glue between Things and Items are Links . A Link is an association between exactly one Channel and one Item. If a Channel is linked to an Item, it is “enabled”, which means that the capability the Item represents is accessible through that Channel. Channels may be linked to multiple Items and Items may be linked to multiple Channels.

There is even a nice diagram.


I’m not going to say it’s perfect and can’t use some work but it’s there and the Getting Started Tutorial did tell you to go read that first.

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A physical IOT device is often a very complex thing as your example demonstrates so, unfortunately it is difficult to reduce its function to a very simple user interaction. OH does a pretty good job of this with a progression of concepts: Binding, Thing, Channel, Link, Item. Maybe a brief chart will help here.

OH Concept Role Example
Device/Service The physical IOT device that you want to control, or the digital service that you want to get/send information to. Kasa outlet or Weather Service
Binding The plug-in that handles the specific communication between the device or service and the openHAB core If you have wemo devices you need to add the wemo binding. If you want to get local weather data from Dark Sky, you need to install the Dark Sky binding.
Thing A binding’s digital representation of a device or service (most bindings handle the communication between OH and more than one type of device) Wemo Dimmer Thing or a Z-Wave sensor Thing
Channel One available feature in a thing Z-Wave sensor’s light level or On/Off setting of a Wemo switch
Link The connection between a Channel and an item Just having a channel doesn’t mean that OH can get the information from the thing, it needs to have someplace to put that data
Item One unit of OH information Slider item for controlling the brightness of a Wemo dimmer or a Conctact item showing the state of a Z-Wave motion sensor

As you get into more complex set ups then you can expand on some of these in interesting ways. A profile, for example will act on a link to change the information to be suitable for a different data type. One channel can have many different links to different items. An item doesn’t even have to be linked to a channel, it can just exist on its own to hold one piece of information about the UI or users preference or rule state.

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I’d only change one thing in your table. As written it seems that a Channel can only represent a sensor, not an actuator. As you know a Channel can also control a device. Everything else is spot on.


first of all thank you very much for taking the time to write the explanation.
I appreciate this.

and this is my point: before proceeding with the tutorial I want to have a clear understanding of the concepts of openHAB.

My way of learning is opposite to what the documentation offers:

The documentation offers abstracted terms and words and the reader has to find / create examples to get a picture of what the abtracted terms mean.

They way I learn is opposite: reading an example or better three examples and extract the generalised pattern from the examples and connect this extracted pattern to the OpenHAB-term.

The best - at least for me best - is to be able to extract the pattern by working through an example that combines all steps and explains the steps and the relations.

I mean the whole process of setting up an openHAB-server and doing all the steps to make the heating system work automated
I do not yet know the right order what to do first, second, third -
in this "setting-up-process of

  • adding a thing
  • activate the “channel” of the “thing”
  • “link” the “Item” to - what?

So above the explanation of the terms, where do I find the explanation in which order I should do these steps?

Once somebody has understood the pattern she/he is able to apply the pattern to his own situation.
And this is the reason why an example is still useful. It explains the pattern.

So if somebody knows a link to a introduction that follows this “inversed” epxlaining style using an example to explain the pattern please post it.

best regards Stefan

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Well, as was described in previous replies, the nature of OH and how it works is really not conducive to your learning style. There is no end-to-end tutorial because OH isn’t a calendar or a game or a word processor where that can be covered end-to-end. Instead you get a bunch of stand alone tutorials that show how to do one specific thing that you’ll need to pick and choose from and string together to get to an end-to-end capability.

OH is a development platform. It’s not a stand alone capability.

And the Getting Started Tutorial does use real world examples on almost every page.

But the only reason I replied at all is you asserted that the content didn’t even exist. It does exist. Now the argument is changing that you don’t like it which is something else entirely.

Well, either you are just refusing to even try to read the Concepts section or you are not understanding them. If I assume the former, what makes you think that anything any one of us here can write in a forum reply will be any better than what has already been written and reviewed and edited by multiple experts. It’s still going to be text. It’s still going to be generic. It’s still going to be referencing abstract concepts.

If I assume the latter, it will be a whole lot easier to help if you give us specific parts of the concepts section of the docs and/or the Getting Started tutorial that you don’t understand and maybe we can clear that up for you.

But none of us us going to regurgitate the docs that we already spend hundreds of hours contributing to here in their entirety. Keep in mind that most of the people on this thread are the very same people who have written a good deal of the docs. If we could do any better we would have done so in the first place.

The Getting Started Tutorial has an order. First we have Things. Then Items and the Semantic Model, Then UI. Finally we have Rules. There’s your order.

However, it’s almost never a waterfall process like that. One might add a Thing, then add some Items linked to that Thing, then modify some Rules, add some more Items maybe not linked to any Thing, modify the rules some more, then work on the UI. Again, OH is a development platform. There is no simple waterfall process.

Well, as I quoted above, a Channel from a Thing is Linked to an Item.

It’s been asked for before. No one has yet to come up with anything like it. If there was I would have linked to it.

But maybe we can help if you give us specifics.

What type of hearting system? (central forces air will work vastly differently from a boiler system)

Which binding? (each technology has different technologies and sometimes different approaches in how they are used)

What do you mean by “automating” it" (There is an infinity of ways to automation a heating system, what specifically do you want it to do)

How do you want to control it (assuming control is needed at all, maybe you just want it to be fully automated)?

How do you want to visualize it?

Which UI?

Text config files or UI?

Have a preference for a rules programming language?

Each one of those questions have many branches. To cover even the most common use cases for an HVAC system would require dozens of end-to-end tutorials. To quote the meme: “We ain’t got time for that!”

Hi Rich,

thank you very much for the long reply.
OK So I guess I will have to put together some components and ask very specific questions about how to setup these components.

You indeed have created a lot of information, tutorials and documentation. That is a great achievement. Most people will be able to walk through and will get into it and become more or less experts themselves. It will take exploration and making mistakes and learning from them.

The Olymp in heaven is beeing a double-expert:
A double-expert in the sense of knowing a lot about the subject and having a lot experience with the subject.
And the second thing is beeing an expert about beginners difficulties which is a totally different subject.
Knowing a lot about beginners difficulties and having a lot of experience in explaining it.
Most experts are just the first.

Don’t worry. Feel honored through having evolved OpenHAB to the point where it is. It is very impressive.

best regards Stefan

Rich is one of the best of us at explaining things for beginners, thanks to the many years he’s put into doing just that. Justin’s also excellent at explaining OH concepts, despite joining the community more recently. I don’t think I’m on their level, but I can tell you that you’re conversing with three people who care very much about helping new OH users. That’s why we’re taking the time to talk through this with you.

There seems to be agreement that you have a learning style that we haven’t catered to in the docs–the information is all there, but not in the sequence that you want it to appear. That’s totally fair. The docs can’t cater to every different type of new user, which is why I offered suggestions to bring you closer to what I believe is our typical new user.

It’s fine with me if you don’t want my help. However, I don’t think it’s fair to suggest that you represent all new users and we’re out-of-touch experts because we disagree with you. We’ve collectively helped many new users get started with openHAB, and those experiences inform this conversation. Also, I am in no way an expert. I even say so in my user bio.

It’s also worth noting that we know nothing about you or your background/expertise/experience. It goes both ways, and I don’t like making assumptions based on limited information. I’m usually wrong.

I hope you’ll stick around and possibly even get involved in maintaining the documentation, so that it benefits from your perspective. But I’ll understand if you find it too frustrating and walk away. I’ve certainly done the same with other things in my life.

So, if you want help getting your system up and running, let’s talk. If your only concern is the documentation, I’ll say no more.


Hi rpwong,

thank you very much for answering. Watching videos is not my preferred learning method. In lack of my preferred method I watched this video in german OpenHAB 3 | Ersteinrichtung und Grundstruktur erstellen - YouTube
and got a first impression how openHAB works.

Until I will be able to integrate a silvercrest Zigbee central-unit with walplugs and my Popp zWave central unit controlling thermastatic valves and some wallplugs I guess it will take a lot of reading and watching videos.

I have coded quite some own software with Delphi for PC, SPIN for the parallax propeller-chip, and C++ for Arduino / ESP32 and a little bit python. So I’m familiar with the concepts of programming. Though the times when I had fun learning things by a lot of try and error are defenitly over.
While coding for ESP32-microcontrollers I came across this website

which has a lot of very detailed tutorials that show step by step, screenshot for screenshot how to realise smaller projects. This website did set standards for me how things can be explained very easy to understand.
Maybe this style does not fit to how openHAB works.

Anyway. I had a different question in a different thread (how to install cloud connection) that was very specific and user Wolfgang posted a link to the manual that explained how to do it. This worked out very well.

best regards Stefan

well i would consider Openhab more to be a tool to make a smart home solution and not a smart home solution in itself.

It is very powerfull and fleksible ,but not a 2 click solution.

Spending time learning cannot be avoided and depending of how advanced you want it , time needed can be a lot.

I believe the best is start setting up system and combine reading and doing (getting experience and learning terms) ,and asking when you get stuck.

It has been stated many times start small and simple ,and build from there.

It is necessary that you learn the ins and out of Openhab , otherwise it will never be a good experience.

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I think it is both: a tool building it and if it is build using it.

I agree with this.

Sure this works. There are initial steps that have a certain pattern and regardless if somebody uses
Somfy, whatever brand wallplugs, whatever smoke-detectors, whatever brand onewire-sensors, whatever brand hifi-equipment there will be differencies in details like what kind of options, how many channels etc. etc.
But there is a underlying pattern that is the same for all of them.
And there is a sequence of steps in a certain order that is the same for most of them.

If you are trying to tell me there is no common pattern at all OpenHAB would be the most complex, irrigating non-useful software ever programmed (except maybe brainfuck)

I want to emphasise I don’t believe this. OpenHAB is a very flexible and versatile software-system.
Though learning it can be more efficient than “Try and Error - clicking, this clicking that reading here reading there” on a small system

The more efficient way is to show it on a small system with more or less typical components like some light-switches and something simple like a thermostat which have a small number of adjustable features but still enough to show the basic principles.

So here are some specific questions:

best regards Stefan

Of course there are patterns and of course there is structure. Those are in the dokumentation .

It is maybe just structured in an other Way than how you would prefer .

I am not saying it is easy and yes there is no step by step guide.

I am no expert , but did compare to home Assistant and found Openhab much better dokumented than Homeassistant .

If i can add that it is a little more complex for those who do not have a good command of english like me ! With the technical situations described in the documentation, it is sometimes difficult. It could be more simple with draw or video. For example, i am not sure openHAB work alone. I mean if i have things (relay for ex), bindings (shelly), items (convectors) do i need mosquitto, red-node etc ???
Jean Luc

Do you want to use Mosquitto? Do you need to write rules in Node-Red? I’m not sure how pictures would help you with those personal decisions.

I don’t know inconvenient and adventage with mosquitto. Is Open HAB work alone ?
I spoke about video or picture to show some concret example that each other can adapt. For me with my shelly 1, shelly 2.5 and H&T sensors i need to “leave” app cloud for a local network, make rules “friendly looking” like line on relay 1 and 2 of the shelly 2.5 at 8h00, line on relay 1 if sensor temperature < 18°C etc

write your questions in your bative language and then just use google-translate to translate to english.
The grammar won’t be brilliant but it will be easy to understand.

As far as I have understood it: OpenHAB offers a “center” which can “plug-in” many many “adapters” to connect all kinds of IoT-devices with a lot of different protocols. OpenHAB is able to use rule on its own.
So Yes OpenHAB can work “alone”

Your description is not very clear yet. So please use google-translate


best regards Stefan

Stuff like Mosquitto and Node-Red are not something that you choose to use just because. It’s not an extra. Either you need it or you don’t.

You need it when the technology or device you want to use with openHAB requires MQTT. While Shelly supports MQTT, there is also a Shelly binding. So use that. It doesn’t work through the cloud, it’s a local control. But if you don’t trust the binding, then switch the devices over to use MQTT in which case Mosquitto (or some other MQTT Broker) is required.

It depends on what devices and technology you want to integrate with it. Sometimes there isn’t a binding but there is a Python script or Node program on GitHub that integrates with that technology. You could use that to make the technology or device work in openHAB.

One reason why there isn’t really an end-to-end tutorial is because, as you are seeing, the answers to all of your questions are almost always going to be “it depends.”

Home automation is hopelessly fragmented and full of hundreds of technologies and devices that can’t talk to each other. So often the answers and the steps and the approach is going to depend on your specifics.

For your specifics with Shelly, use the Shelly binding. Save MQTT for a time when you really need it.

Now tell me:

what made it possible that you are able to use openHAB in many and versatile ways?
The answer is: experience
That is something that you collect. You collect experience.
Now there are a lot of ways to collect experience

  1. doing a lot of try and error
  2. asking in forums
  3. reading a lot in documentation
    but last but not least
    following example-tutorials to get at least a rough picture of how it works.

If you start learning welding you start with
Inert gas welding
electrode rod-welding

of course there are specialties like
Electron beam welding
Roll welding, Friction welding and a lot of more
All welding-methods have still some basic things in common. And for these basics things learning
Inert gas welding
electrode rod-welding
is useful

This is the reason why I insist on example-tutorials are useful!
best regards Stefan

Then you need to write them. I’ve been working with openHAB for near on a decade. In that entire time I’ve dedicated myself to helping new users get started with openHAB. I’ve written scores of tutorials. I’ve written more than half of the Getting Started tutorial.

Yes, I have lots of experience with OH. But I have even more experience helping new users get started with OH.

I’ve even written end-to-end tutorials. Heck, the Getting Started tutorial is an end-to-end tutorial. Here are some more:

Dozens of users have written hundreds of other tutorials and posted examples. Some are point and some are end-to-end too. Solutions - openHAB Community

There are lots of resources outside of this forum and the docs too. See How to get started (there is no step-by-step tutorial) where I collected a bunch of them.

Examples we have coming out of our ears. What we don’t have is an end-to-end show me everything using my specific technologies X, Y and Z. That’s not feasible. There would be 350! (that’s factorial) different tutorials just to cover the different combinations of add-ons alone. That wouldn’t even touch Items, the UI, Persistence, etc.

So what we do have are point examples. We have examples that document, as @StefanL38 called it, “the pattern” for how to do something in OH. But you have to be able to take that tutorial, extract the pattern, and apply it to your specific bespoke situation and goals.

And if that isn’t good enough, anyone can step up and see if they can do better. Demanding that other people donate their time to document things exactly how you want isn’t going to get you anywhere. We’ve all already done the best we can. If it’s not good enough, step up and show us a better way.


OK I guess I got it.