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New PowerHome Release Notes

gregoryx

Active Member
Finally spent some time with the recent PH release, which has the new Insteon Explorer in it. That's the only piece I was really reviewing.

I found some things I really like and some I really don't and some that seem like a good start and I'd expect to change.

My raw notes:

Notes

"Tab Scrollbars"
When I turned on "tab scrollbars" it messed up the tab views a bit if a given tab was scrolled at the time
"tab scrollbars" makes reports unreadable - they are scroll-happy.
The "<> Remove Ctlr" thing on links is WAY to the right.

Misc Notes:
really like the "pending operations" and "completed operations" and "sdm log" stuff. Very useful information.
Pending operations should have option to eliminate or otherwise isolate recurring pending operations, such as regular polling.
Same for completed operations. I don't want to see recurring pending or completed UNLESS there's something wrong with them like too many NAKs or whatever.
TX lines should not be red. Red is bad. Should be green or blue or something.
If TX colored, RX should be colored something else. only NAKs or other errors should be red.
Even better, user-selectable based on config preferences
LOVE the idea of tracking NAK/ACK count.

Don't like the method of getting Insteon devices in.
Data entry or auto-learn only?
Should have spidering.
Should have option to learn from attached PLC device.
Should have import device option (with defaults to ID and description or whatever other required data fields).

Don't like that a missed critical field causes the whole record to be deleted and start over. Should have a default value. If the field is a unique field, the software should create a default unique field data element.

Links:
Shouldn't require "refresh" to see devices already created in the Devices (middle) section.
The < > method of adding and deleting links... yikes. drag and drop? right-click? something else...
When a device in the controllers / responders sections is "ID NOT FOUND", it should have the right-click option to "add"
Overall look & feel of Links section is great if you have 3-5 devices... but becomes a scrolling nightmare with 50+
Needs a left pane for devices instead of a center-pane.
A method to make a given device invisible in all controller/responder windows. I have every device - and every button of every KeypadLinc - linked to one PLC now; they'll be linked to three PLCs eventually. I don't want to see eighteen PLC links on every KeypadLinc I look at. I'd like to have a "don't display links" option on a per-device basis.
Huh... just noticed the "< > Remove Resp" at the bottom... man, that's a weird way to do it.
Should the "button number" for the load of any device be "1"? as in HouseLinc? similar to the Group number?

Default on level and ramp: can PH learn these from the device then use them as they are currently learned when sending a standard "on"?

PLC Groups:
How do I assign them to a button? I create a group name... and... uh...
How do I assign devices and their functions to the group number I create in PH?

KPL Config:
Why doesn't the KPL show up?

Reports:
Why are all the "good" things expressed in red?
 

pkoslow

Active Member
I was messing around with this today too.

Check in the device section to ensure that KeypadLincs are checked as "keypadlincs"... seems this wasn't coded correctly in this release.

Checking the box corrected the problem for me.

Yes, lots of red! I actually thought my TXs were failing when I first saw the red...

Cheers,
Paul
 

nadler1ny

Member
I have to chime in here.

I am not a programmer, but an end user. I find PH has so much more insteon related functionality than anything else out there that I continue to be elated and impressed by what it can do. I know of no other software that comes close. Sure, it could be more intuitive and it sometimes takes a minute or two to figure out which button to press and some things should be highlighted in green rather than red, but isn't that just a quibble? I would have left insteon long ago without PH.

I think your review leaves the general impression that PH isn't good software (altho I don't think this was your intent). IMO just the opposite is true. I find it great software but like all software it can always be improved.

Having said that, I agree with most comments you have made (except for spidering - I don't see the need). I just find them minor issues.
 

Alexander

New Member
Wow, this is what qualifies as "great software" to you guys?

I gave the latest demo a whirl last night.

At first there was some issue where it wasn't communicating with the SDM. I thought it was, because I could click the button that updates the TimerApp, and it did SOMETHING on the serial line, and said it completed.

But it wasn't really doing anything.

I think the problem ended up being that there were two copies of SDM running, and the one PH was communicating with was no good. So I sorted that out.

Now the TimerApp update worked.

Tried the auto-discovery. Nothing.

Eventually I found the forum post mentioning the Insteon RTF file that came with PH. I read it. Nice summary of how Insteon linking works. Nice summary of the utterly arcane incantations you need to invoke to get PH to work with Insteon. :lol:

I plod through those incantations. Auto-discovery still isn't working. Forum posts from the developer insist that this means signal problems. I doubt this, as I'm seeing Insteon traffic in the logs at this point. No mention in the RTF of how to add devices manually. I try a couple things, PH throws raw SQL errors at me. I am starting to get angry.

Eventually I figure out how to add a device manually. It appears to get some sensible data from it, so I go ahead and type in all of my devices. It gets a lot of data, but it appears to fail on three devices: my only KeypadLinc, one of my two ControlLincs, and something else (a random SwitchLinc?). I figure out how to issue commands to PH: Check a checkbox then hit "refresh". Yeah, ok, I have to think like a DB admin to use an end-user application. Whatever. I try it a few more times, it continues to fail. Does not appear to be a signal issue, plenty of data being passed back and forth, and nothing else has trouble communicating with these devices. Starting to get sick of hitting "Refresh" in places where there is absolutely no reason why I would want to see out-of-date data.

So I end up with a view of most of my links, but inability to read links from two of my most important devices, so I lay it to rest.

I'll give it another try when another update comes out, as it does appear to be able to do link management. I'm willing to give it another chance only because the only other app that also appears to be able to do link management (HouseLinc) does not appear to have a demo and has worse reviews.

All in all, PH is high up on the list of worst-designed software that I've ever seen. I appreciate developers putting in the effort to make apps that fit needs that I have, but I am amazed at how this can pass for usable.
 

TonyNo

Active Member
I'm not sure of the source of the specific problems, but my experience has been nothing close to what some have mentioned. It just works here. Dave (the developer) does monitor CT, so he'll chime in eventually, but a forum posting at www.power-home.com will get a quicker response. Case in point: A few items that gregoryx mentions above are being added to the new build that should be out within the next few days.

Keep in mind that the recent PH builds are still in beta. Any bugs will get worked out! :lol:
 

crisx

Member
I have to agree with TonyNo. I have been using Powerhome for 3 or 4 months, and while there was a small learning curve, I had everything up and running fairly quickly. The support for this program is the BEST I have ever seen.

I have been hesitant to be critical of the design of the Insteon Explorer because frankly, I can't think of a better way to suggest doing it. Link management is complex. For each device, you need a list of devices linked to it as a controller and a separate list of devices linked as responders. However, I am certain that over time improvements and new ideas will be incorporated into the software (as they have in the short time I have been using PH).

The insteon RTF file was critical in getting started. With the next release version, I'm sure updated documentation will be coming. In the meantime, TonyNo is right, try posting your problems on the PH board and you should find help fairly quickly. Good luck, and I would definitely suggest giving it another shot!
 

Alexander

New Member
You're right, it's a beta. I should be (and am) appreciative that the developer got something out to play with even if it doesn't work 100%. That's fine. However, the entire application just gives me the impression that zero thought has been given to usability.
 

gregoryx

Active Member
Please don't take my post in the wrong way; I was not suggesting that the software doesn't serve its purpose.

When I posted a semi-similar post regarding my experience with HouseLinc, HomeSeer, and the other Insteon stuff I could find - including the PowerHome previous version - Dave posted that it'd be good to try the new Insteon Explorer and give my feedback.

As I said, those are raw notes. I do that sort of thing for may things I do: just keep writing things down as I note them. I didn't edit it with the intent of making sure that these things were not offensive to anyone; nor did I go out of my way to placate anyone by using words like "LOVE" and "really like"; it's all in there... raw.

Being blunt: I think PH is a pretty raw UI. I think that the Insteon Explorer is a step in the right direction, but working from a UI that harkens back to text-only days. Though I was resistant to adopt the mouse, I am now a believer in the value of well-designed graphical UIs.

Functionally, there are a lot of things in PH - especially the one I tested - that no other Insteon software has. It seems a shame to have to purchase PH just to manage Insteon tables - when SmartHome's own similarly-priced software doesn't - but that is sort of the state of Insteon.

At this point, there are critical elements to full, reliable, maintainable Insteon functionality that are not represented in any of the currently available software packages. Since they are available in other packages, it irritates me that the authors of each of those packages often cry "not available in the SDM" or "it's SmartHome's fault" in some way.

All said, PH looks like one I'll keep trying. If I can get a better grasp on how it creates "groups" ('cause I'm not crazy about the way HS or ML do Insteon native stuff), I'm definitely in... but only until someone - even PH - gets all the pieces right AND has a decent UI.

I hope that's a fair and perhaps even complimentary way to put it. :D


OMG... 100th post... I didn't think I was that "active" here... :)
 

TonyNo

Active Member
gregoryx:

I took your post as intended. I agree that PH is lacking in regards to a GUI, but Dave's plan is to address it with wizards to walk you through. That's good enough for me.

I'm not a big grouper yet :) , but I select my PLC in the Devices pane, select the device to add to a group from the device list pane on the right, click on "<" (add) next to the Responder pane, and then edit the Group number in the Responder pane. Make sure you click outside of the Responder pane when you are done so that PH sees the change and prompts for a save.

Congrats on the 100th! :D
 
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