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At a crossroads, stay with CQC? - Printable Version

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At a crossroads, stay with CQC? - Sendero - 12-01-2017

Whenever my annual fee comes due I start evaluating if I'm getting enough of out of CQC. This year its a harder call that previously. I've had CQC for I don't know how years, way back when there was no maintenance fee and I'm now in the Unobtainium tier due to having purchased so long ago. 

My system UI used to allow for viewing or controlling lights (ISY), HVAC(AprilAire), Logitech/Squeezebox + Nuvo Grand Essentia, Geovision cameras, SmarterRFID Tags in vehicles & trash cans to show location, and my Elk alarm. But in recent years SmarterRFID seems to have gone under and I've moved to using an Ecobee for HVAC, BlueIris for cameras, and mostly Echos around the house for mutli-room audio. I'm going to put the Nuvo & Logitech audio devices up for sale shortly. 

CQC was nice for a control panel to play music in a room but that feature is lost now with the Echo. 

CQC control of the thermostat was great, especially when travelling and wanting to pre-cool/heat the house on the way home. But there is no driver for the Ecobee.

I did some efforts to integrate Echo voice control with CQC but since I mainly use it for lights I found it easier to hook up Echo to the ISY portal for control. 

I also would really like support for push notifications from CQC to mine or my wife's phone but I don't see a way to do that. 

What are people using CQC for that can justify the ongoing $100/year price? I'm partly inclined to re-up just to keep supporting Dean and the program. But I fear that CQC is falling behind in terms of drivers and ease of hooking up new technologies/products.

RE: At a crossroads, stay with CQC? - Dean Roddey - 12-01-2017

There is an Ecobee driver here. It's not a V2 driver, though I'd be happy to work to get it V2 compliant if that is possible.

The Echo can do a lot more than just control things. It can also do very nice queries to get information audibly as well. So you can query weather or security information and that sort of thing.

We have the new web cam widget to let you see the cameras on your touch screens.

Other than those things, what other drivers would we not have that you need? It seems like you are getting rid of things, so that there's less to control, not more.

RE: At a crossroads, stay with CQC? - znelbok - 12-02-2017

You can just stay where you are and not pay the maint fee. I have a customer that as no need to upgrade and he is fine with it sitting on a very old version. When the need arises he will deal with the upgrade costs - probably end up being cheaper than the maint fee every year.

As for notifications, I think you should be able to do it via IFTTT. I do agree that a notification system with CQC would be beneficial - maybe a way to justify the maint fee by including notification driver and service ( I believe it needs a central server to do this). I have looked at/started writing a driver for Prowl (notification service) but you could also use one of the web based SMS drivers I have written for notifications as an alternative.

RE: At a crossroads, stay with CQC? - jkmonroe - 12-03-2017

(12-01-2017, 09:03 AM)sSendero Wrote: ... What are people using CQC for that can justify the ongoing $100/year price? I'm partly inclined to re-up just to keep supporting Dean and the program. But I fear that CQC is falling behind in terms of drivers and ease of hooking up new technologies/products.

I don't even have my CQC server turned on.  I keep paying to basically support Dean and the program since I have been a user for so long, but I will put it all back together this winter.  I also think that we (CQC) were falling behind, but 5.0 brought it up quite a good bit in terms of ease of use.  I've tried the alternatives, and the Admin Interface in 5.0 is the nicest one out there.  And while I haven't used the new WebRIVA, I am super excited that we can use the 7" rPi tabletop touchscreen as interfaces (at $100).

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, the one thing I think Dean does need to do is feature-lock the core and focus on driver support.  An entire release cycle or two of bringing in new technologies and drivers, updating older drivers to current, and polishing and feature completing existing drivers; maybe take a vote or something?  But a lot of progress has been made to that end anyways like Caseta and the new Z-Wave driver.

Oh, and Dean, it probably isn't easily possible but Admin Tools for OS X would be great.   Big Grin

RE: At a crossroads, stay with CQC? - Dean Roddey - 12-03-2017

You know, one way you guys could help get what you want is to help spread the word. If we were selling, say, an average equivalent of 40 Silver systems a month, we could start to have more resources available to us to do more. But, on any site, if someone asks what to use, I say CQC, and ten or twenty other people say some freebie program like OpenHab or Home Assistant, and a few others say Homeseer or SmartThings or various other more obscure things, and I'm the only one there that's a vendor while the others are actual users (at least as far as anyone can tell), CQC is usually going to lose.

In fact, in such threads, the discussion often just continues as though CQC was never even mentioned, because there are no CQC users speaking up for product, and that's the only type of vote that matters to a lot of people. Most of the time those folks have never used anything else or maybe one other freebie program, they are just saying what they use and of course if they use it, then any sane person should do the same. But it means that the potential new customer never even looks at CQC, and there's no way to win on the merits of the program itself if they never evaluate it.

I'm not saying strap on some armor and jump on the horse. Just that, if you see someone asking, take a few seconds and give your opinion as well.

Anyhoo, yeh, there would be a lot to be said for doing a 'drivers release'. Though, if I do that, other folks will yell at me that that's not important and other things should be done. So it's hard to win. Of course, if Z-Wave wasn't such a heinous, time sucking cancer in the bowels of automation, I could have done a couple other things in the time I've wasted on this new Z-Wave driver without any clear insight as to whether it's going to work or not yet.

RE: At a crossroads, stay with CQC? - znelbok - 12-03-2017

I have been banging the CQC drum for many years on the C-Bus site.

What is it about the freebies that attracts people - is it because its free or is it because of specific protocols that are supported (OpenHab gets a lot of view time to me because of MQTT and node red)

RE: At a crossroads, stay with CQC? - Dean Roddey - 12-03-2017

Well, for newbies, it's because it's partly because it's free. And because hobbyist products always have users who are more active because they are always messing with it, unlike more commercial/pro type products that are designed at least to be able to set up and forget, though obviously you can still constantly tweak if you want to. They couldn't possibly at that point understand all of the technical issues or ease of use issues involved, but they see free and then the users of the free products pile on. Occasionally someone points out the ease of use issues with those products, but they probably don't really appreciate what that means at the time.

RE: At a crossroads, stay with CQC? - Deane Johnson - 12-03-2017

Dean is so correct on the issues of the "free" stuff looking like candy to a kid (not his description).  Back when I first started, I tried a couple of free things, but they didn't offer much and didn't stay around long.

I hungered for more and when John Hughes was starting Elve, it was free for a long time.  I got totally hooked on a more serious piece of software with it.  When he decided to not pursue it any longer, I was forced to take a serious look at CQC.  I had been put off by the internet posts of it's steep learning curve and hadn't tried it before being forced to or take the route of looking around for some other Elve replacement.  Surprisingly, I found that CQC wasn't all that hard to learn, no more so than Elve, but you had the option of digging as deep as you wanted with what it could do.  I've still never written one piece of code for mine and it does everything I want.

Biggest problem with it now is that I forget it exists.  My house just runs day in and day out with never a single glitch with CQC.  As a result, I take CQC for granted and forget how I've got it set up.   Fortunately, it's the most rock steady piece of software I have encountered.

I think Dean should give some thought to what the ramifications would be to offering it for free for a certain amount of time.  Say 6 months maybe.  That gives a person an opportunity to become totally hooked.  Perhaps add a beginners startup tutorial with some mainstream exercises.  Perhaps involving lighting which everyone will have an interest in at the beginning.  Maybe just a tutorial on setting up a couple of lamp modules.  Stay away from battery door locks, and things of that nature that might need some babying to get set up.

In other words, join the free crowd.  So someone uses the software for 6 months for free or even a year.  That's better then them not digging in and trying it.

One downside I can think of is that it's likely everyone would take the free, so your sales would suffer in the meantime, I assume.  Perhaps that could be reduced by offering a purchase during the free period at a reduced rate, or something.  Maybe one reduced rate at 6 months, another at 12.  But above all, don't call it a trial, call it free.  As a business person, I hate the word "free", but to young beginners, it's magic.

Just my Sunday evening rambling thoughts.


RE: At a crossroads, stay with CQC? - Dean Roddey - 12-03-2017

Another problem on places like Reddit is that the freebirds will down vote anything other than the free products. So any vendor of a commercial product is lucky if his post even stays visible. Many people in that open source community seem to consider making money evil.

RE: At a crossroads, stay with CQC? - Deane Johnson - 12-03-2017

I'm not familiar with Reddit, but from your post, I'd guess that most of those members are quite young.  They probably aren't potential users for CQC, at least not in the near future.  That's just a guess from your post, not from any knowledge I have of the site.

I'm not sure where potential users of serious home automation software might be hanging out these days.  Cocoon Tech used to be pretty good, but I sense it's sort of lost it's momentum.  AVSciences has always had a pretty serious group, but it's gotten so big that posts can easily get ignored or missed.