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Best practice - Wiki or Forum?


knuth
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The Fibaro community and its forums contain a lot of useful information. As several users have pointed out, however, it is often difficult to extract the really useful ideas from this format. Solutions and good ideas are frequently buried deep in a lengthy dialogue. Finding the right topic to browse is also a challenge. This is not a criticism but an inherent feature of a broad discussion forum like this one. The possibility to ask questions to other users and get useful assistance should be maintained. What I feel is needed, is a supplement: Somewhere to find a summary of best practice. 

 

Ideally, this should have been provided by Fibaro as part of their documentation. That does not seem to be happening. My suggestion, therefore, is to establish a Fibaro Best Practice Wiki, written by and for the users. A permanent structure could then serve as a depository for the solutions, the good ideas, and the best practice from the Forum discussions. This wiktionary could be the first place to look for anyone with a problem. If a solution is already described, it should be found there. If not, the user can post a question on the appropriate forum. Hopefully, this will result in a helpful answer which may then be added to the Wiki.

 

A functional Wiki needs moderators. Again, it would be natural to look to Fibaro to fill that role, but if they do not step up to the challenge, I am sure a user-managed system can be made to work too. I do not have the tools to establish a Wiki system, and it would be premature to do so without consensus in the user community that this is a useful thing to do. I have, however, drafted an outline (see attachment) to illustrate how a Wiki may be structured. A formal outline like this is not strictly needed, of course, for a wiki system, but it illustrates what type of contributions I think we should try to build. The end result should be a compendium of all aspects of a Fibaro system.

 

Your feedback is invited at both levels:

  • Is the basic idea of supplementing the Forum with a collection of "best practices" sound? Is a user-driven wiki the best solution? Any alternatives?
  • Is my table-of-contents sensible? Any suggestions to change or supplement it?

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Good idea,  surely a more comprehensive user manual is in Fibaro's interest?

I have also been thinking that a user manual would also give guides suiting level of users, aka  beginner -intermediate -advanced.

 

It is not beyond the capabilities of Fibaro to collect together information  and put this online for customers.

I imagine a collection of information from both internal and external sources, would only enhance the appeal of their products and reputation and make the forum a better platform for exchanging ideas.

As it is, the Forum has  many posts that are characterized

by frustration and inability to find documentation.

Hopefully  @knuth, someone will pick up this thread and follow through ?

 

On a personal note: Whilst we wait , sincere thanks to all members for their invaluable assistance and guidance in making Fibaro a better product.

 

Edited by MARCUSP.I.L
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  • “If not us, who? If not now, when?” 

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     Hei @knuth....True, so why not begin a thread at the easy end and put together 100 easy to hard block scenes , magic scenes , can ask all to contribute. Can be updated to 200 within a certain period ?

    If there is feedback can begin with 100 Lua scenes also easy to hard. Also to 200 within a certain period.

    As for manuals for HC2 and HCL and devices , global,VD'S etc it's a question of who will do the work  !

    And as an unofficial manual will it be approved ?

     

    Perhaps a joint appeal to Fibaro would get some some attention, after all, they have all the info at hand and it's only a matter of putting into an official user manual.

    Waiting for feedback from Fibaro can give you grey hair , some maybe enticing them with the option of a half yearly full users guide tied into a reasonable subscription might get results. Personally i dont want to pay more for this product ,  like many others, but i have already invested and a small yearly token sum won't break the bank.

     

    I'm certain that if there is enough momentum Fibaro will come aboard..

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  • I think we (they?) should start with the manuals for controllers (HC2/HCL) and all the devices. My proposed headings are simple:

    For devices:

    • Basic functions
    • Parameters and configuration
    • Known problems, solutions

    For controllers:

    • Basic functions
    • Updates, backup
    • Web interface, external communication

    Each "basic function" section could start with a link to the existing user manual, and then elaborate on all the issues that are not covered there. 

     

    I share your hope that Fibaro will pick this up, and provide a decent on-line user manual, but I do not share your optimism. That is why I suggested trying this as a Wiki project, with users providing content and improving as we go. 

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    As a learner, I totally agree for WIKI, hoping will be done by Fibaro Group. Everyone can build a WIKI, keeping it alive is another story. 

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    This is a fairly good idea! I appreciate that!

    I can tell you that we do not have enough people on the Forum to manage the Wiki for FIBARO as it would be a very broad service - but I cannot say that it is not possible and I admit that we are doing it in our own way.

     

    I will refer to the document @knuth attached:

    1. / 1.1. / 1.2 - Z-Wave - it would be a tremendous task to gather the information about Z-Wave focusing only on Home Centers. Of course, it is not impossible, but it would require a team of people to gather all the information. I can add useful links to Z-Wave knowledge:

    Please login or register to see this link.

    or

    Please login or register to see this link.

    but I agree that an advanced user guide would be very appreciated :)

     

    2 - Home Centers - there are plenty of articles on our Knowledge Base

    Please login or register to see this link.

    and Manuals

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    or

    Please login or register to see this link.

     

    3 - Devices - very similar situation to the gateways, let's take

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    . We added FAQ at the end of the manual and it is being extended if it is needed.

     

    4 - Scenes - this is the most problematic. The idea of block scenes is pretty simple, but I get a feeling that often the logic behind solutions is not right - meaning that a user wants to achieve something in an incorrect way. LUA programming is an advanced solution and it depends on the users' knowledge of programming. I usually advise to contact our Installers that help with configuration and installation - usually it is a paid service.

     

    4.2 - Applications - I understand that you refer to mobile apps. Do you mean that there is a need for manual for the apps?

     

    I assume that we all know that documentation is needed but we would have to estimate what we can provide now and what users need. I'll start a discussion among the team :)

     

    On the other hand, the Forum is for users and I am administrating it. If you have suggestions for the Forum, feel free to submit them! If you need a separate category for Wiki - I can create it ;) One has been created already

    Please login or register to see this link.

     

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    Hei @T.Konopka, i appreciate feedback and answers.

    I do understand the restrictions when it comes to maintaining a dedicated site for above queries.

    As you mentioned there are manuals available and there is a Knowledge Base to assist with various questions, and most users can find an answer , eventually.

     

    Might it be a good idea to have a Fibaro "learn zone" where users could access scenes , Virtual devices , users manuals etc listed as mentioned by @knuth ?

    A dedicated collection.

    This "depository/ library" would be of tremendous help to all and would make it easier to find solutions.

     

    The Forum is packed with great ideas and suggestions and the level of expertise and friendly assistance is something i am sure Fibaro are  proud of.

    This wealth of knowledge and interest in Fibaro products is precious and might be best served if there was a dedicated "zone" where users could post their solutions ?

    I imagine a  collection of detailed manuals and tutorials , gathering together the best of material here on the Forum and from Fibaro archives.  

    This would go slightly beyond pure forum administating and a little more into marketing and sales.

    The Forum could also be spiked a little with info on news ., developments, partnerships , monthly offers ,

    loyal members /contributors , etc etc.

     

    Forum headline;

    "This week on Fibaro we introduce the Top 20 lighting scenes "  and " 10 Virtual Devices to Keep you entertained this Summer" .

    and slightly tongue in cheek " This months best contribution and winner of HC3" :)

     

    The Forum is the first stop for anyone who has purchased Fibaro products and is where users build on their investment.

     

    I sincerely hope that you continue to enhance the possibilities of your system and hopefully together with the dedicated contributors on this forum , Fibaro will continue to provide the best platform for home automation solutions.

                                             

     

     

     

    Edited by MARCUSP.I.L
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    I see also other communities that put a WIKI section for 3rd party devices/APIs howtos. On forum there is a mixed of questions with guides. Also as I truly believe that Global Functions will skyrocket fibaro, I sugest a section about Global Functions as also RFCs

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    10 hours ago, MARCUSP.I.L said:

    A dedicated collection.

    The top bar of the Forum and tab Knowledge. It includes links to Manuals, Knowledge Base and Compatibility.

     

    10 hours ago, MARCUSP.I.L said:

    The Forum is packed with great ideas and suggestions and the level of expertise and friendly assistance is something i am sure Fibaro are  proud of.

    This wealth of knowledge and interest in Fibaro products is precious and might be best served if there was a dedicated "zone" where users could post their solutions ?

    I agree! The Forum is full of great ideas, instructions and solutions. That's why I provided such categories:

    1.

    Please login or register to see this link.

    - for instructions/tutorials/manuals

    2.

    Please login or register to see this link.

    - for solutions, integrations, etc.

     

    The Forum lacks the "newbie zone", but I think that it is not necessary as Knowledge Base and Manuals provides sufficient amount of knowledge for a newbie. On the other hand, I think that we could make a good use of a category "good practices", meaning tips&tricks regarding maintenance of the whole system - or even parts of the system (Z-Wave, LAN, etc).

     

    11 hours ago, MARCUSP.I.L said:

    I imagine a  collection of detailed manuals and tutorials , gathering together the best of material here on the Forum and from Fibaro archives.  

    Personally, I think that our documentation team can help with editing articles shared on the Forum. But, this has to be discussed with their team leader.

    Brainstorming: 1. A user creates a tutorial in Tutorials-and-Guides; 2. Administration verifies and validates the tutorial; 3. Documentation team edits the tutorial so that it can be shared as article

    Of course, I think that some sort of a reward would be in place for the most active ;)

     

    What do you think?

    I just want to emphasize that we are only discussing it here at the moment :D But, I like the idea!

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    1 hour ago, T.Konopka said:

    but I think that it is not necessary as Knowledge Base and Manuals provides sufficient amount of knowledge for a newbie

    As a learner, Manuals/Knowledge base have so much knowledge that a new guy get lost. I prefer the model "What you want to connect/build on fibaro today?"

    I see that the download section is a close section from any aspect. Github interaction is missing.

     

     

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    Hei @T.Konopka,  @FSE, @knuth, i agree with all in that there are several exsisting sites for manuals and tutorials and the need for better access to libraries and information.

    Just to be clear , as T.Konopka mentioned, this is just brainstorming and food for thought..

     

    I am a learner and have a limited understanding og coding , programming etc. I also have a limited amount of time to use on my HA system, like the majority of people who purchase Fibaro systems, i imagine ?

     

    First off let me say that i appreciate the work done by Fibaro staff on the Forum and the various links to manuals, troubleshooting , downloads etc etc..

    I have found many solutions to my needs using all above.

    However, what i feel is missing is a structured overview with easier access to a determined question.

     

    Lets take a typical situation for a user with basic skills:

    He or she wants to make a scene with a dimmer , two lights , a sensor and a global.

    So he or she starts by reading the manual for the dimmer, (link to manuals Fibaro)  then the sensor(link to manuals Fibaro) and finally globals (knowledge base and the Forum).

    Finally after a lot of reading and searching they might get a setup with errors, so back to the Forum and complaints to Fibaro because something won't work.

    By now the user is uninterested and confused having read about restful api , advanced lua , virtual devices etc etc.

     

    Now  think of a typical smartphone user, limited understanding of programming and coding yet  willing to use time and money to download and use any said app or functional tool .

    Imagine i can go to my home center , press the download button and see available Scenes -Plugins - VD'S- Manuals  etc etc... 

    Here under scenes i find : light-sensor scenes and download it together with easy intro to setup. All downloads can be rated - easy to hard to alert users of complexity.

    Done, 5 minutes. Now i am delighted with my system and will experiment more and possibly buy more devices and expand my home system. And i will definitely tell all my friends ....

    This i believe is the future of Home Automation, a tiered solution that allows users easier setup and at the same time gives intermediate and advanced users an ability to share and develop.

     

    The problem is not necessarily a "newbie" introduction , but a general structured overview with access to Manuals /Scenes/VD'S/ Api/etc/etc....

    As for intermediate and advanced users , a similar post/download to scenes - vd's - suggestions etc would only increase the overall interest in Fibaro.

    All the information is there, in various links and of course on the Forum but it is scattered across many pages and discussions and it is easy to loose sight of what you were looking for to begin with..

     

    These suggestions are by no means  a criticism of existing formats , but things are sometimes seen differently when you are on the outside looking in ..

     

    Personally, i have greatly expanded my understanding of all things Fibaro by reading and, honestly most of all,  feedback from users here on the Forum.

    Maybe a revamp of the Forum, gathering existing links  into an easy systematic overview format , and as we mentioned previously , a collaboration with experienced users to release solutions and downloads that are beneficial to all.

     

    i TOOK THE LIBERTY TO  PUT PICTURE TO THOUGHTS:

     

     

     

    Please login or register to see this spoiler.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

                                             

     

     

     

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    @MARCUSP.I.L, sir your idea is brilliant, especially photo! Just for a sec I thought that photo was from a HC3 and Fibaro did a big breakthrough!

    Thoughts for food...we still miss the core tools for people to feel confidence and build something more complex that toggle a switch.

    I had to dig a lot to understand what are the tools that someone is needed to start lua coding, how to offline debug scenes, etc. There is a guide for zerobrane but you had to know that you need this guide as a rookie coder.

    Most of us we are not coders on our daily life.

    OFF-TOPIC: an offline debugger which will be interact with knowledge base and manuals would be a gift from heaven.

     

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    Absolutely @FSE, why not build in a tool panel with references to development / debugging / wave sniffer tools / drag and drop etc etc.. 

    I really believe if the various panels are available and are clearly marked with difficulty level etc , all will benefit.

    It might also be smart for the system to do an auto update before embarking on a considerable project, easy to restore if a user gets lost or makes a non desired system change ? 

    As i said i am a beginner and i can only put forward the various applications/ ideas  i somewhat understand, to date..

    I leave it to far more experienced users to piece together a reasonable model, security issues , stability etc..

     

    Although it is slightly unrelated to direct programming i really feel the Fibaro should see the financial benefits from implementing a broader user interface .

    Why not envision a touch screen floor planner with pop up interaction , keypad for alarm, camera viewer , drag drop , themes , etc etc etc..

    Build in these functions to UI and make things quicker and easier , why not ??

     

    One last thing , to the dedicated Fibaro staff, i understand that all of this must be paid for and each division has its allocated budget .

    Perhaps a newer revamped Forum, will save time spent on cataloging and time spent with customers ?

    A generally positive feedback from existing users will entice new customers and increase sales , and with that development  etc etc..

     

    In my daily life i work as an electrician and am in a position to recommend products to my customers.

    I need to know that my customer is satisfied and has ample understanding of installed devices , systems etc..

    There are many existing solutions that manage heating , ventilation , devices etc etc , but multiple  apps and configurations are not what customers want, i can guarantee you..

    What i like about z wave and Fibaro is that you can combine functions and make use of existing installation material (switches - thermostats - lights etc).

     

    I have spent many evenings working at no cost with their home automation systems, and fixing  /improving previous setups.

    I know that the majority of my customers are afraid to "dig too deep" into Fibaro settings in case they "break" it !

    This is why i would dearly love to see a new UI that encourages users to work for themselves , as they do with smartphones , pads etc..

     

    In short ,  slightly on behalf of the thousands on electricians who meet new and existing homeowners on a daily basis, i  encourage Fibaro to continue to streamline their UI and develop solutions as recommended by both internal and external resources.

     

    I am grateful as always, for the opportunity to "pitch my ten cents worth " , and hopefully Fibaro will follow up on some suggestions put forth by  users on their Forum.

     

     

    Edited by MARCUSP.I.L
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  • We are getting somewhere with this conversation. Thank you, @T.Konopka, for joining in and contributing. It seems that what we are lacking is not information,  but structure. For anyone, newbie or expert, it is easy to get lost in a maze of information. And it is getting worse, I think, as both new channels appear and the amount of information increases. For instance:
    The Fibaro Forum contains loads of useful advice, and is topically structured. Being a discussion forum, it does not distinguish between individual problems and lasting solutions. It is driven by users, with limited input from Fibaro staff. As time goes by, the amount of information increases. Some becomes obsolete, other posts of lasting value get buried in all the new material. 

    There are other national fora (the Polish version of the Fibaro Forum is one, I know of a French one, there are probably more) which work similarly, but with a more limited sharing value since they have a more limited audience.

    The Knowledge base contains articles, tutorials, Q&A and manuals. These are official Fibaro documents. They are topically structured, but do not give a comprehensive overview of all devices and their use. There is limited cross-linking between the different segments, and no superstructure to allow for drilling down from basic to more in-depth information about a certain topic (e.g. a device). I frequently fail to find the information I am looking for. There is no way for users to contribute to improvement of any of these documents.

    The Download section is the closest thing we have to a user-driven Wiki-like channel today. Here, the users' own "best practice" scenes, VDs and icons are shared, using tags and titles to allow new users to search. Again, I would have liked to see some structure beyond the three main categories, like area of applications (lights, alarms, monitoring, etc.), but it is reasonably easy to find the right solution. Ratings and comments from other users provide good guidance, too. (Note: why is there still a Crowd's solutions section on the Forum? How is this different from the Download section?)

    Facebook has several groups for Fibaro users, some international, some national. Their use seems to be increasing, which I consider unfortunate. The FB format is a linear, unstructured dialogue. It is useful for raising a question and get a response, but has no lasting value for the community. Personally, I would like to discourage the use of Facebook for information sharing on Fibaro systems. But many users would not agree.

    My initial idea for a Wiki to collect user input of lasting value may seem to add to the confusion. The idea was to separate the conclusions from the dialogue, without reducing the value of the forum format. User input would still be key. If it is realized, I think the entire knowledge base should be incorporated. It could be restructured, and open to both official Fibaro input and user contributions. Which brings us back to finding the balance between contributions from Fibaro staff and from users. 

     

    My recommendation is this: Fibaro should review its entire documentation strategy, possibly using outside expertise. This is crucial for your future success. How you include user contributions and experience should be an important part of the strategy. Looking at the profiles of some of the users of this Forum, you should find a few you can invite to be part of your discussions. The posts in this thread can provide some inspiration. Whether you would like to include a Wiki solution in your future documentation is up to you. 

    In conclusion, starting a wiki as I initially suggested is pre-mature (and may on its own just make the situation less clear). Improving the documentation of Fibaro user documentation, however, is definitely a mature idea!

     

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    Agree with all said @knuth.  My own proposal might be a "little" ambitious , to say the least, but something has to change. 

    Hopefully this will receive some attention at Fibaro HQ, it will be interesting to see what strategy the company has for future..

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    I suggest to include a new section on forum that is clear LUA oriented. Lot of questions are asked as part of bigger projects that people need some help for a specific LUA command. Also sometimes someone like to share a snipplet that can be used to any project. 

    I also like to see the structure of fibaro API/LUA documentation as reference manual on html format like official LUA documentation (

    Please login or register to see this link.

     

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    ). I have a crazy idea about that :) but it required to be an html index page with links for every command.

    @T.Konopka

     

    Edited by FSE
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