Decision about Docker Compose, Docker, Home Assistant

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Zach Holman ·

I've been recently getting really into home automation- you know, making my house Smart™, which basically means half the time my lights don't turn on and the other half of the time apparently my kitchen faucet needs a static IP address.

But it's been a blast! It's a fun way to write code for yourself, outside of work, to have an impact in the real world. It's a nice way of falling in love with a different side of programming again.

I've used Apple's HomeKit for awhile, since we're pretty all-in in Apple devices at home, but the rough edges have been grating at me more and more. HomeKit is so opaque- you can't see what's wrong, why a device is unresponsive, and most importantly: the compatibility isn't there. HomeKit has a limited selection of — more expensive — accessories, and as you go beyond just simple LED lights, you want a bit more power. Also, we're programmers, dammit, gimme all the things.

Anyway, I've switched to Home Assistant the last few months, and I'm kicking myself I didn't make the switch earlier. As a programmer, it's great: you get the most capability than pretty much any other smart home platform (integrations have been written for most devices and technologies out there today), it's easier to debug, and when you want to go bigger than just simple lights on/off, HA has some really powerful stuff behind it.

I use Home Assistant in conjunction with Docker and Docker Compose; since the config is extracted out, upgrades are usually as easy as a pull of the latest version. I've just started digging into writing integrations for a lesser-used device that I have at home, and HA makes it pretty straightforward to just magically add it to the home network.

It plays well with others, too- we require a VPN connection in to the home network to access our Home Assistant install, and HA has a few tricks to help with that (ignoring the VPN route if you're on a local network, etc). Nice client support for iOS and Android, too.

Anyway, big fan of Home Assistant if you want to go beyond simple home automations and setup. Wish I would have done it a lot earlier. Also, big fan of jumping into all this if you have the time and interest to do so- it's been tickling a different part of my code brain than I've had access to in awhile, and that's been fun in and of itself.

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Zach Holman

Zach Holman