# Welcome!

Welcome to openHAB. We hope that your journey with openHAB is a rewarding one. If you encounter problems or simply cannot figure something out on your own, please do not hesitate to post a question on the forum (opens new window). There are many fellow openHAB users ready to help out, and polite constructive feedback can help us to improve this documentation for the next new user. Most requests for help usually receive a response within a couple of hours, but please use the search on the forum to check if the topic has already been discussed.

This new user tutorial assumes that you have at least a basic understanding of the concepts of openHAB (opens new window), and already have a working installation of openHAB.

# File-based vs. UI-driven Configuration

Early on you must choose between either textual (file) based configuration, or the easier to use User Interface (UI) method for your setting up and configuration needs. This getting started tutorial will only cover the easier UI method, however since many areas of the documentation give textual examples (often marked as Full Example), it is important to recognize that these examples do not apply if you have chosen to use the UI. If this does not make sense at the moment, don't worry, just continue on with this tutorial to learn how to use the UI method first, as you can always come back and learn how to use file based configuration.

When using the UI method you will notice that most configuration screens will have a "Code" tab. If you run into problems or want to share something that you've created through the UI, click on the "Code" tab and post that YAML to the forum ( using code fences (opens new window) ) instead of, or in addition to using screen shots.

You can review the reference documentation for details on the text based approach here https://www.openhab.org/docs/configuration/ (opens new window). Whilst it is possible to mix the two, for example use the UI for things and files for items, doing this is not recommended as it increases complexity.

To help you choose between the two approaches, the following is a summary of the pros & cons for each:

# File-based

Pros:

  • File based has been the only really practical way to define most objects (things excluded) in previous versions, so a lot of examples in the docs and the forum will assume that approach. However, as time passes there will be more and more UI driven examples.
  • With file based configs it is easier to make bulk changes and bulk updates, to duplicate similar objects, and to separate domains into distinct files.
  • The config files can be treated as source files, easing backups and version control. Though that does not mean that source control, backups, and version control cannot be done with UI driven configs.
  • Files can be synced through any file sync services (e.g. Dropbox, Nextcloud) to the openHAB machine.
  • Easier to share configurations between multiple openHAB instances.

Cons:

  • Config files are more prone to errors. The slightest typo leads to a syntax error that could cause the file to become invalid, which will result in everything defined in that file being removed from the system until you fix it.
  • The syntax for the config files can be a little overwhelming for novice users, as you have to learn and understand the syntax in addition to openHAB concepts and home automation technologies.
  • You will see most objects defined in files in the UI but you won't be able to edit them (those objects will have a lock besides their name/label 🔒).
  • You need to sit in front of a computer with access to the files to make changes.

# UI-driven

Pros:

  • Easier to understand for novices. The UI assists you with its built in documents and help. There are fewer opportunities to make mistakes since the syntax is almost impossible to get wrong.
  • All objects can be altered from anywhere the UI can be reached (including on mobile).
  • Things can be auto-discovered.
  • Items can be auto-created from Things (with the ability to edit).
  • The internal database is somewhat faster, especially on resource-limited devices (e.g. Raspberry Pis) compared to reading the file based contents.
  • A backup of the internal database is created on every change.

Cons:

  • Can be slower to reach one's goal if you already know what you're doing and if there's a lot of bulk changes or duplicating required.
  • Harder to remove obsolete stuff.
  • Some things cannot be configured with the UI yet (e.g. persistence).
  • You need to sit in front of a device with access to the UI to make changes.

# Table of Contents

This tutorial presents a series of concepts and steps that build upon one another, so please review the tutorial in the recommended order.

First Steps: Initial configuration

Adding Things: Simple: Discovering Things

Adding Things: Intermediate: Creating Bridges

Adding Things: Advanced: Manual creation of Things

Items and the Semantic Model: Creating Items and putting them into a semantic model

Persistence: Saving and retrieving historic data