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Home Control Assistant Newsletter for March 14 2021

Have you looked over the version 17 release notes? Lots of changes that you can incorporate into your designs right away. Easy upgrade.

Looking for answers to the most common questions about HCA? Check out our
Frequently Asked Questions page.
 
A new “one day build”! (But not in a day…)
I’ve been working with a new touchscreen display in my home for a week now – more on that in a future weekly note – and in changing my automation solution I found that I couldn’t quite get what I wanted from the HCA “Rooms” system. Now don’t get me wrong! The “Rooms” system is great, and I use it in several places as it makes it easy to tie devices and motion sensors in a room together. But for the application I have in mind it just wasn’t flexible enough.

As the start of my project, I created a new package for the library that lets you assign devices into “zones”. A zone is just the name for a group of devices that are related in some manner that I determine. One key feature is that a device can be in no zones, one zone, or multiple zones.

What is in the library now is the first release of the package that I will be adding to in the next few weeks. I’ve spent quite a bit of time making sure that the programs in the package are reasonably well commented since they use a lot of the Compute and Compute-Test elements. 

Did you know that in the Compute and Compute-Test elements you can add comments by prefixing the comment with //? Anything on the line after those two slashes is ignored.

One feature used extensively are “Tags”. I have covered them in past weekly messages, but a quick review is in order as they have become so important. A tag is simply a way to associate a piece of state with a device, program, group, or room/folder. Each tag has a name and a value. In a physical sense, you are adding to an object something that “tags along” with it. HCA provides methods to set the value of a tag, get the value of tag, delete a tag, and to check that an object has a tag.

In this new “Zone Manger” package I’m using tags as a way for you to mark a device with the zones you want it to participate in. The determination of which zones a device is in is made by you from your knowledge of your automation solution. Open the properties of a device, choose the tags tab, and add the tag name as “Zones” to an open slot. Then for the tag value enter a comma separated list of zone names that you want the device to be in. It’s a manual process.

Consider the other uses of tags. The Ecobee implementation and the Hubitat implantation contain programs that use tags to save data with a device that is provided by some mechanism. In the Ecobee case it is the data read from the thermostat. For Ecobee it is the device attributes that are provided when an event happens. In this use programs set the tags and other programs read those values as they need it.

So now that I have this new “Zone” mechanism what will I do with it? For that you will have to wait until next week. The “Zone Manager” package is in the library now and feel free to import and take a look at it.

Keeping up!
In the last weeks HCA 17.0.35 was released, and two weekly messages pushed hard on getting you all to update to that. It really would be a good idea. I wanted to see how well my persuasive comments have been, so the cloud developer did a database query and put this together. Note that this only finds users with HCA Cloud accounts. For those without cloud accounts – and I know there are lots of them – I have no idea what version they are running.

17.0.30 – 9 users
17.0.32 – 26 users
17.0.33 – 3 users
17.0.34 – 20 users

Wow. Looks like I need to retake “Persuasion 101”. Come on guys, you really need to keep up. There are good reasons to do so. Remember these “point updates” are at no cost!

 
Backup!

When was the last time you made a backup of your HCA design? Not a month goes by without at least one tale of woe from a HCA user. Please use the "Design Backup Assistant" on the Tools ribbon category. The work you save will be your own.


 
Want to take the next step in automation? Want to get started with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant and control HCA by voice commands? Even if you are a long-time user of HCA, the Getting Started guides have all the info you need on client-server, mobile applications, DDNS, and voice assistants.

All of the
Getting Started Guides are available on the support website.
 
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