Which UI and visualisation tool to use for which situations?

I’m quite new to OH and now about to construct my visualization and user interface. I’ve looked around but am not sure which tools still make sense or which ones to use for which use cases:

  • Pages/Layout: this seems to be the most important one.
  • HabPanel: is there a reason to still use it? Or is it totally replaced by Pages/Layout
  • Basic UI: Didn’t much look into this yet. What’s this for? Or no need to use it?
  • Pages/Sitemap: For mobile devices? Same question: Can it do anything better than Pages/Layout?

And then there’s the possibility of integration external pages:

  • node-red-dashboard; for some reason, I feel more comfortable with this but maybe only because I haven’t done much with Pages yet.
  • grafana: looked very roughly in this. Is worth investing time into it? What can it do better than Layout/Grid?
  • anything else you recommend?
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No one’s really going to be able to tell you what makes the most sense for you. Part of the point of all these options is letting someone find what matches their system complexity, experience level, and time commitment.

The new layout pages are newest and most highly integrated with the rest of the new MainUI. They provide for quite a bit of personalization and customization through the built-in configuration and even more through the development of your own custom widgets. There is now a vast and ever-growing knowledge base on these forums for getting help with this new interface.

HabPanel is similar in the ability to customize but through a completely different interface and structure. It existed with OH2 and has been maintained in OH3 because of its popularity. HabPanel probably has an even higher ceiling in terms of features and customization, but at a cost of substantially more coding on the users part.

Basic UI and Sitemaps are really two sides of the same coin. Basic UI is the viewer for sitemaps. These require some of the least coding input of the custom pages they are pretty much just one-to-one placement of basic interaction widgets for each item you include with only a few more complex features. These were the default for many in OH2 because of the easy visual compatibility with mobile screens, but that advantage has more or less disappeared because the MainUI’s layout pages work very well in mobile views and already supported by the habdroid app.

I’ve never done much but the most basic with the node-red dashboards, but my impression is that you can probably do most of what you would need with that. I wouldn’t commit to that format until you’ve played with the MainUI layout pages more because I think you’ll find that the entry requirements aren’t too different and the tighter integration gives the MainUI a leg up. On the other hand if you are familiar with node-red and you’ve already got a bunch of OH flows then maybe that will work for you. At the moment I think that will limit you mostly because (if I recall) node-red doesn’t have access to item metadata and tags which have been greatly enhanced in now and are key to many more advanced features.

The built-in charting for OH3 is far more advanced than in OH2 and probably will work just fine for most users. Gafana is still more powerful in just about every respect and for advanced users willing to work more closely with persistence can provide many more tools. It is by no means necessary unless you run across something specific the OH charts can’t do or already have it setup from a previous OH installation or other reason.


Thanks Justin for your very informative answer. To me this boils down to focussing on the pages-functionality; at least for now. I was just unsure due to the many available options, but now it’s quite clear to me.

You might also check the linked topic, as it will bring new layout options into MainUI.

I don’t have a lot to add but a quick word on the purposes of the various UIs which can also help inform which to use in which situations.

UI Purpose
MainUI Administration and as a UI for the users of the home automation through Pages
HABPanel Primarily designed to support tablet type interfaces, UI for home automation users only
BasicUI One of the UIs (along with the phone apps) that display Sitemaps, simple UI for home automation users only
Phone Apps Display sitemaps and I believe both the iOS and Android apps can also display HABPanel and MainUI, UI for home automation users or administration (though MainUI), provides additional integration with the phone (e.g. push notifications, pushing alarm times, etc.).
Node-Red I can’t comment but Node-Red is going to be outside of OH so it can only show stuff that it can access from OH through the REST API
Grafana Advanced charting capabilities, you don’t need to mess with this unless there is some chart you want to create that isn’t supported by MainUI; you’ll have to move your persistence to InfluxDB or MySQL to use it
HABot dynamic chatbot interface to your home automation