Author Topic: I give up  (Read 6521 times)

Offline Sammy2

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 869
  • Karma: +5/-5
Re: I give up
« Reply #30 on: August 09, 2018, 02:01:34 pm »
I wanted to through my 2 cents in also.  I have had Vera for, I don't know, 10 years??  I started with the Vera2.  I changed every switch in my house to Leviton switches, fan controllers, scene controllers, dimmers.  I also had aeon labs door/ window sensors and schlage locks.  As you can tell by my apparent "newbie" title on the left, I generally don't do as much with forums, or anything too complex like most of you.  So I would only occasionally come to the forum and look something up or get a vibe for what is going on in the community.  I think the only custom code I needed back in the day was the "isnight()" function when scenes didn't have the ability to tell if it was day or night yet.  So eventually I "upgraded" to a vera lite and also eventually to UI7.  I have been moderately happy with being able to open a gate and have a light turn on or use the phone app to do something.  But the point I want to echo, that I believe most of you have also, is I have never been EXCITED about vera, and I want to be!.  The UI has always been lacking and therefore frustrating.  Case in point: how old is UI7 now?  where is UI8?  What is UI8?  is there ever going to be a UI8?  It is hard to showoff an automated home to non-techie when those questions we can't answer about customizing the interface. it just doesn't look like anything new (can i customize the dashboard?  what if I don't want to see those alerts?).  I recently moved, and have a started setting up new scenes and with new tech that wasn't out 10 years ago like Alexa, Harmony hub, arduinos, etc etc. I have started getting new devices and trying to get them to work in vera.  On one level I am surprised that it basically works, dare I say easily.  I have solar panels and a pool in my new place i didn't have in the old place.  I put an aeotec home energy monitor on the electrical panel to meter what I make and use.  So it was easy to get the device added to vera but hard to do anything useful with it.  Ideally I want a graph of solar production and then nighttime energy use.  Maybe that is beyond vera, I got do it outside vera but where is the database?  oh, I need a plugin for that.  That kinda surprises me.  We live in a data centric world now.  They have an energy section for vera but you have to share your data.  I really don't want to do that just to total up some numbers.    I now also have a nest.  The nest was easy to integrate as installing a plugin.  How awesome!  oh, and it looks like crap in the interface. I really don't want to see the WWN dummy device.  I don't want to see the zwave extender device either.  So we have to resort to what I call old school tricky in putting things in fake rooms to hide them.  And speaking of rooms, I can't have a ceiling fan in more than one room?  I have to name it something like fan1 of BR1, and fan2 for BR2?  And...We really, after all these years, can't change an icon for a switch?  Not every switch is a light.  So like the original post on this thread I too feel like giving up.  I have a vera plus I just got from a friend and it is (should be) an upgrade from my vera lite but reading the forums so many people have had issues with the vera plus, so I am hesitant.  But what I am thinking of doing, and looking for your opinion on, is doing the upgrade to vera plus but only for the devices.  I am looking at Home Assistant and their new LoveLace UI.  And I can run it in docker.  There are always pros and cons to everything and i feel bad for leaving (partially leaving) vera.  The phone app is ok (hated the period when I would get their ads for verasecure), integration with Alexa was good (I jumped on the beta on that and loved it from day one).  But the UI is so bad (by today's standards) and not improving.  How else is using Home Assistant ?  What do you like / not like about it?

and sorry if I rambled or went in to many directions... just agreeing with what I thought i read that vera works (mostly) but are falling behind quickly and IMO a lot has to do with the UI.

Paragraphs!!!

That said, I use the Vera GUI for setting things up and ImperiHome for a front end to control things. This is sort of clunky to say the least. If Vera could have a front end like ImperiHome that would be a win in my book.

Offline Sammy2

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 869
  • Karma: +5/-5
Re: I give up
« Reply #31 on: August 09, 2018, 03:30:43 pm »
I the re-included the Motion Sensor but I think I chose the wrong model. It paired but said it was a AEON not a Zooz so it is not reliably connected.

The above comment encapsulates the core of the issues. You say you chose the wrong model but I ask why on earth were you asked to choose a model in the first place? You shouldn't be asked to choose a make, a model or any such thing. The core of the ZWave protocol means that when the embedded ZWave chip in the Vera includes a new device, the muanufacturer code, the make and model of the specific device that has been added becomes available to the Vera software. These codes are unambiguous and unique to the device. Vera should therefore know exactly what device has been added, who made it, and exactly what capabilities it has. Its right there in the protocol and always has been. A couple of dozen lines of code is all it takes.

If you add a device Vera can access that device's capabilities and embedded components by asking the device simple questions about itself. Are you a basic switch (on / off), a multi-level switch (dimmer / blind controller), a colour changing switch (RGB / RGBW), a binary sensor (movement, moisture etc), a multi-level switch (temperature, UV), and are you battery powered etc? Also, how many embedded components have you got, ie are you a double light switch or a single light switch? All simple stuff, even if ZWave makes it a little more convoluted than it needs to be at a messaging level.

With the above info immediately available directly from the device when it is included, there should be absolutely no need to ask the user to select a device type, make model or any such thing. Additionally there should be no need to wait for Vera to release new firmware to support the basic features of any new zwave device, unless that device contains manufacturer specific command classes and even then all of the other device capabilities should work immediately.

So how do I know this?

I walked away 2 years ago after a FW updated bricked my Vera and support kindly offered to sell me a full price replacement. It was the final straw and forced me to make some difficult decisions. Years of reboots, chlunky scripting, and out of contol device and network management was written off. I looked around for a replacement and it just so happened that the ZWave protocol was released to the public. I had a play with witing some code and was amazed how simple it was to talk to ZWave devices. Tell them to turn on, off, up, down, and get status information from sensors etc. So I wrote me own ZWave controller which does pretty much everything that Vera does but it does it 24/7 without any restarts, delays etc.

ZWave as a protocol has some significant flaws and the public documentation is pretty bad (incomplete) and some of these flaws are things that the application designer (Vera etc) cannot necessarily overcome as they are inate to the chip level communications. However as a one man band building an app from scratch to control a ZWave network I can tell you that instability is not something that you should expect or tollerate. Devices and their underlying components are either included in the network or they are not. Included devices are stored on the ZWave chip itself while the app simply maintains metadata about the included devices. As such the devices shouldn't appear or disappear. They can be included or excluded. They can change state. They can become non-communicardo. But they should never disappear unless the user wants them to be hidden.

I share this info with you not because I think most of you will be interested in building your own, and not because I want you to give up on Vera, and not because I want you to use any other system. I give you this information to help ask Vera the questions that need to be asked about the core of their product design. You can put lipstick on a pig but its still a pig. Likewise if Vera keeps building layers of fluffy stuff on top of the core design issues then reliability, stability and usability are only to be found in the marketing documents.

Years on all the same issues exist. I glad a chose to take a different path but that is not an option for everybody. For the person who doesn't like reading about other people's problems, I'm a little confused as to why you come to a forum like this. That is exactly the purpose of a forum, ie to talk about problems, discuss ideas, seek help and make enough noise that product development takes note and prioritises core issues above fluffy new marketable features.

What platform did you put this on?

What language did you use to program it?

How does the device you use as a controller talk to Z-Wave devices?

Can this be expanded to talk to ZigBee devices and others that run through HTTP, such as Harmony and Autelis Pool Control?

Thanks!

Offline Giddy

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 3
  • Karma: +0/-1
Re: I give up
« Reply #32 on: August 10, 2018, 11:34:21 am »
Quote
What platform did you put this on?

It currently runs on Windows since that was my dev platform. I'm using a spare old laptop as a host for my production environment. Its tiny compared to my dev machine yet with 4 controllers running over 100 nodes the machine hardly registers any CPU load and uses hardly any memory. Its in my rack with BIOS configured to auto-boot after any power failure. The laptop has a great battery so I've never lost power to the app yet.

Quote
What language did you use to program it?

I've written it in C# with .net. Will port it to .net Core to run on Linux soon. Mainly so that I can drop it on an R-Pie and use those as remote hosts. Scripting is currently done in LUA which works fine but I'm concidering moving it to Roslyn instead. Should be faster and more portable across platforms. Could keep both I guess.

Quote
How does the device you use as a controller talk to Z-Wave devices?

Uses any commonly available UZB ZWave USB. I'm currently running 4 x Aeon labs Z-Sticks on the one host machine. Provides coverage over two buildings and multiple levels with concrete floors between. Being able to unplug a Z-Stick and take it to the location of a newly added device is very handy.

Quote
Can this be expanded to talk to ZigBee devices and others that run through HTTP, such as Harmony and Autelis Pool Control?

I haven't needed Zigbee yet but USB Zigbee controllers are also readily available. My code auto-detects USB devices that are plugged-in and dynamcially cranks up a controller thread for each. I've also written a UPnP interface to detect LAN conponents. If the UPnP listener detects a LAN device that I have wirtten a plug-in for it automatically connects to that device and adds its controls and status info and subscribes to relevant events were available. I use this mainly for AMPs and TVs.

General HTTP interfaces are often quite simple. Getting weather updates for example only took a a couple of dozen liness of code. All depends on the API exposed by the manufacturer and how well documented it is, and if they have wrapped any security around it.  I have only written plugins that I need for my environment so I can't comment on what it would take to do Harmony and Autelis Pool Control for example.

There is lots more to do yet such as completing the Onvif controller but my priorities have been performance and stability.

Offline randya

  • Sr. Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 34
  • Karma: +6/-2
Re: I give up
« Reply #33 on: August 11, 2018, 11:56:32 pm »
well... I did it.
I downloaded Home Assistant (in a docker image) and had it up and running literally in minutes (like in less than 5 minutes).
And first impression is WOW WOW WOW.  Looks amazing.  Everything on an easy to read view.  And so organized.  WOW.   And this isn't even the new Lovelace UI yet !
On first launch it autodetected some network devices (chrome cast, plex server, harmony hub, and a sony sound bar).  Really impressed. 
And 2 lines in the config file to connect it to vera and it brought in all those devices and scenes. (Did I already say "wow"?)
I really think I am going to dive into this and dumb down my vera and use it as a hardware bridge to zwave (zigbee, bluetooth).  Use HA as the UI. 

I really don't know what the future of the Vera UI is going to be but if they don't already have something really awesome in the works and near ready to go, they may want to focus more on the hardware, reliability and use a 3rd party UI.  I hear AltUI is cool.  And I can see for myself that HA is awesome. 

They also have great documentation and youtube videos.   

So I guess I only give half way up...  ;D

Offline RV

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 125
  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: I give up
« Reply #34 on: August 12, 2018, 02:08:26 am »

Offline Mike Yeager

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 571
  • Karma: +9/-12
Re: I give up
« Reply #35 on: August 12, 2018, 02:12:16 pm »
Welcome to the HA fold. You'l find there is a learning curve on building automations but there's a pretty good community. Find the Template Editor and it will save you a lot of time. It's built into the program....

Offline ceefin

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 139
  • Karma: +6/-0
Re: I give up
« Reply #36 on: August 12, 2018, 10:15:27 pm »
I've had my VeraEdge now for approaching 4 years. I've seen a number of these threads, and I try to pay attention to all of them.

I haven't jumped ship yet, but I'm on the lifeboat, and I'm waiting on the ropes to be pulled.

Like many others, I'm dabbling in HomeAssistant. The learning curve took me a while to process, but it's not terrible. Now I'm starting to dabble in NodeRed for automations, and I'm bringing in location tracking, alarm automation, text-to-speech, and whatever else I can dream up.

I'm still using my VeraEdge, but primarily as a gateway for HomeAssistant to my Z-wave devices. It wouldn't take much for me to just get a Z-stick and cut out the Vera all together, but I've grown a little dependent on it for some things I haven't had time to build replacements for.

I comment here not to gripe about Vera - there are many other threads for that. I have much appreciation for the work that they've done. However, their lunch is getting eaten by many other players, and it doesn't seem that they are totally clued in on the situation? Threads like this often go without comment from the folks in charge; Marc Shenker left with zero fanfare last year. There doesn't appear to be much engagement from them here, and none in places like reddit's r/homeautomation, where the guy from HomeSeer is readily available and the community will support your HomeAssistant efforts en masse. If I could wipe OpenWRT and install HassIO on my Edge, I'd be heading that direction.

I have to mirror randya when he says..
Quote
I have never been EXCITED about vera, and I want to be!

Thoughts like this are not going to keep the company in business, unfortunately.

Offline randya

  • Sr. Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 34
  • Karma: +6/-2
Re: I give up
« Reply #37 on: August 13, 2018, 11:43:03 am »
hmmm, I noticed I was smited a point for some reason.  I don't think I said anything that should offend someone.  But since I don't know why they smited, I don't know what they had an issue with.  And I guess that's why I don't post often in forums and remain a "newbie" despite 10 years experience; everyone has an opinion or a "better way".   LOL... Facebook for Vera... HA HA... who cares, right??

Anyway...

Two days in with Home Assistant and LOVING IT.  I can place things in any kind of group I want and also place them in views I create (they become tabs).  Things can display in multiple areas.  I can change icons and have friendly names.  I can create my own dashboard and have multiple dashboards.  The UI is responsive!!!  The UI seems faster.  I really feel I have full control over the UI.  And there is a history for each device with either a bar graph or line graph, out of the box!!!

***comment on UI is faster: concluded by non-scientific testing having HA up in a browser next to UI7.  Click things in HA to see things update in each UI.  Do the same in UI7. Repeat a bunch of times. Observe. In each case, the device on/off was instant (at the device).  HA was first to update the UI by about a second, no matter which UI I initiated the click with. (I say a second because it was non-scientific testing and I didn't get measurements; But between a half second, up to a second)

I know some people said there was a learning curve with HA.  I didn't have one. :)  So if there is one it is really small.  I do have 30 years experience with Unix systems so felt right at home working in the configuration file, also have some experience with yml files (remember to watch your indents!).  And their online documents are great and very helpful with examples.

....AND, I now have my Ring doorbell triggering events in my house for motion and dings.  Something I could never do in Vera UI7.
....I also added my cameras back into the UI.  I had removed them from Vera years ago when I found out it has so much phone home activity.  (paranoid)

So what I wanted to share with those still thinking about using something other than UI7, GO FOR IT!  :)  It looks like people have been happy with AltUI, Imperihome, Home Assistant, Homeseer, and probably others.  Some cost $$$, others are free.  Home Assistant is free and looks like a solid architecture with fast growing support (IMO).

I saw another post with a list of pros and cons and had a con for HA being python because of having to learn python. (The person's list of pros/cons was fair and had more pros BTW).  I wanted to comment on that and say I think python is a pro.  It is a tried and try language and is becoming more popular.  We are using it in development at work and it is replacing some old C++ code (believe it or not).  (also look at Cython).  So, IMO learning python is a plus and universally useful in today's job market. 

I really hope the VERA team focuses on hardware, protocol implementation, stability, and maybe take a different approach on the UI and have a very very simple one for device management and adopt another UI for the user.  Maybe a win if they lighten their load and focus on the device area and do that really well.  And I know there are also many people happy with Vera.  And I know the forums are a wealth of knowledge but one thing the Vera team could really do to close the gap in shortcomings is to have better documentation (have examples, please).  My time invested in playing with home automation should be doing things, not searching for answers.  It takes too long to read the forums to get an idea of the right way forward.

In closing of my rambling (again), I probably won't be back for awhile.  (Going dark to avoid be smited again,  LOL)  Just want to share my experience with UI7 so hopefully there is improvement and to share my experiences with Home Assistant.  Sharing is paying it forward from all the help I got here over the years.  I am really happy with HA and if you are on the fence go for it.  If you think I can helpful in anyway to you, PM me.

I hope everyone has an awesome and fun home automation experience.

(look, Sammy2.  Paragraphs! ...or at least close to it)  :)

« Last Edit: August 13, 2018, 01:16:49 pm by randya »

Offline Sammy2

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 869
  • Karma: +5/-5
Re: I give up
« Reply #38 on: August 13, 2018, 12:51:20 pm »
LOL!

Offline rafale77

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1248
  • Karma: +62/-23
Re: I give up
« Reply #39 on: August 13, 2018, 03:02:08 pm »
hmmm, I noticed I was smited a point for some reason.  I don't think I said anything that should offend someone.  But since I don't know why they smited, I don't know what they had an issue with.  And I guess that's why I don't post often in forums and remain a "newbie" despite 10 years experience; everyone has an opinion or a "better way".   LOL... Facebook for Vera... HA HA... who cares, right??

Don't be so sensitive...  :P I got most of my smites from a smitefest thread a while ago. It really doesn't mean much.  :-X ;D

I saw another post with a list of pros and cons and had a con for HA being python because of having to learn python. (The person's list of pros/cons was fair and had more pros BTW).  I wanted to comment on that and say I think python is a pro.  It is a tried and try language and is becoming more popular.  We are using it in development at work and it is replacing some old C++ code (believe it or not).  (also look at Cython).  So, IMO learning python is a plus and universally useful in today's job market. 

I really hope the VERA team focuses on hardware, protocol implementation, stability, and maybe take a different approach on the UI and have a very very simple one for device management and adopt another UI for the user.  Maybe a win if they lighten their load and focus on the device area and do that really well.  And I know there are also many people happy with Vera.  And I know the forums are a wealth of knowledge but one thing the Vera team could really do to close the gap in shortcomings is to have better documentation (have examples, please).  My time invested in playing with home automation should be doing things, not searching for answers.  It takes too long to read the forums to get an idea of the right way forward.


I guess that was me. Yeah python can be a pro. I am just not much of a software guy and don't work in IT. It is a con for me because I have something more to learn. I actually even contributed some code to Hass to fix a few bugs on the camera component.
Sadly I am even seeing the activity on this forum decreasing so I think a number of users are fleeing to other platforms. I know that if I move and have to start form scratch, I would definitely not choose vera for anything. As I discuss in my other post you are referring to, each has its pros and cons and none is perfect but I think in terms of capability, flexibility and stability the best compromise would for me be Home assistant with an aeon z-stick and a HUSBZB. The aeon z-stick as a secondary mobile controller to include devices and firmware OTA upgrader and the HUSBZB for dual zigbee/zwave fixed controller.
« Last Edit: August 13, 2018, 03:46:19 pm by rafale77 »
openLuup (97 devices, 134 scenes, 20 apps) controlling HomeAss + VeraPlus (138 zwave nodes, 8 Zigbee nodes, 205 devices, 20 scenes , 2 app) Bridged to Homekit and Alexa. VeraPlus ExtRooted!

Offline randya

  • Sr. Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 34
  • Karma: +6/-2
Re: I give up
« Reply #40 on: August 13, 2018, 03:44:38 pm »
rafale77,
  yes, I believe that was your post.  Good thread there.  I especially liked the stuff about the servers phoning home.  I will be not only dumbing down my vera as far as the devices it handles but also securing it and stopping it from doing god knows what.

...and it is not that I am sensitive, I was just more curious on what on earth I said that caused a downvote.  Seems silly to me to "smite" and not have the reason... but I guess I am just full of opinions lately... :)

Offline Don Phillips

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1326
  • Karma: +35/-32
Re: I give up
« Reply #41 on: August 13, 2018, 08:41:09 pm »
...and it is not that I am sensitive, I was just more curious on what on earth I said that caused a downvote.  Seems silly to me to "smite" and not have the reason... but I guess I am just full of opinions lately... :)

I think there was alcohol involved.  I try to be helpful but I have more smites than applauds.
Vera 3, 1.7.1030, CT101, Everspring motion sensor, GE/Jasco switch, Leviton outlet, AeonLabs sensor, NuTone garage door, Blue Iris, Sricam SP011, iPhone locator, APCUPSD, VeraMate, VeraAlerts, PLEG, House Modes, Countdown Timer, DVR, Virtual/Multi Switch, Weatherunderground, LB60Z-1 bulb, Hue, Alexa

Offline randya

  • Sr. Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 34
  • Karma: +6/-2
Re: I give up
« Reply #42 on: August 13, 2018, 09:03:49 pm »
now you are 50 / 50 ;)

Offline jeubanks

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 215
  • Karma: +10/-4
Re: I give up
« Reply #43 on: August 13, 2018, 11:46:17 pm »
I keep coming back and finding these threads.  Oh the memories  ::)

Home Assistant is a really cool platform.  I'll jump in and second that Python is great also.

Offline Inzax

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 392
  • Karma: +26/-64
Re: I give up
« Reply #44 on: August 14, 2018, 08:04:41 am »
Someone should dig up the old smite thread...no wait...

lol.

It was brutal.  Fun.  People got pissy.  Some LOL'd.  I just said F**k it and started asking for smites.
Proud Member of the Epic Smite Thread.
VeraSecure; Concord 4 Panel; 6 IP Cameras; Imperiehome; Housemodes; system monitor; DeusexmachinaII; Vera Concierge