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Well-behaved Application (Mac OS X), Part 1


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Don't get me wrong, I love Universal Devices and the ISY-99i/IR Pro, but I feel that it fails many tests of a well-behaved application, at least when accessed from Safari or Firefox on a Mac.


Some examples:


Way too sensitive to communication problems, and fails inelegantly. I.e., not sufficiently robust. I ended up going to a hardwired network *only* to accommodate the ISY. (All my other stuff works fine via 802.11n.)


"Universal Devices Administrative Console" window insists on being "always on top" -- an annoyance. I ended up buying another Mac Mini to dedicate to the ISY, largely due to this and a couple of other examples of "not playing well with others". (Of course, dedicating a computer negates some of the attraction of the ISY concept.)


I often resort to "Force Quit" of my browser due to the ISY interface locking up. This means that I have to be careful to do everything else with Firefox if I used Safari for the ISY, or everything else with Safari if I used Firefox for the ISY. (It's a good think that every other application I run *is* well-behaved, or else I'd be fresh out of browsers!)


If I query all devices, and don't dismiss the first "Device Communications Error" window before the second one pops up, then I'm stuck and have to wait until the entire operation finishes. On a related note, the window close (red) buttons on the ISY user interface windows are rarely functional.


Idiosyncratic behavior: The ISY is, let's face it, a little weird. It's great that the developers care so much about HTTPS, SSL, etc., but a big point of the GUI revolution was to minimize the learning curve for new applications. I integrate large and complex systems for the DoD and NASA, and the ISY occupies more of my time and requires more anecdotal knowledge than almost anything else I deal with.


Back to robustness: I think some loops need to be closed (I can elaborate if this is not obvious) and error messages, error recovery, and error logging all need to be improved. Also, for example, if the shell interface is to be case-sensitive, then let's have appropriate error responses. Or else make it case-insensitive. And what's with the timeouts at the prompts? Once again, kinda weird.


I have lots more comments in a similar vein so if this is at all helpful I will issue a second part of this later.


Once again, I love the ISY and the Universal Devices folks are just about the best people in the world to deal with. I just wish it could be even (much) better. I would be willing to pay *way* more for a commercial-grade" unit. Or maybe pay bounties for features I really need such as SNMP. I want to be fully behind and support this effort. INSTEON and the ISY are very close to being something wonderful.



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Thanks so very much for the feedback and yes please do post your second part of this post.


A few comments:

1. In our design, we had to choose between realtime updates to the GUI and performance impact of dead GUIs. As such, ISY actively checks the backlog of packets not being able to be sent to the GUI. If that number is > 3 (which is very large for a local area network) then we consider the GUI no longer active. The question is: why would there be a LAN where the packets are not acknowledged in such a long time? Of course, we could increase this number but we would have to understand the ramifications (such as slower updates to the GUI)

2. Firefox does not honor javascript window.close(); we have had to come up with many workarounds just to make it do what it does now

3. The persistent window and error codes are on our list to rectify. Although no excuse, bear in mind that everday we make decisions as far as what is needed to be included in the next release (one of which KPL timers and KPL issues and you so desperately needed) and thus with limited resources we are only able to do so much

4. ISY also controls a security system and thus security is of paramount importance to us. Yes, we should make the process easier - and we will - but I've yet to see another embedded application allow you to dynamically add SSL certificates the way ISY does



With kind regards,


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