Example: Bon Voyage

To help illustrate some of the important concepts in writing a SmartApp, let’s walk through an example.

Bon Voyage

Our example SmartApp is fairly simple - it will monitor a set of presence detectors, and trigger a Mode change when everyone has left.

To accomplish this, our app will need to do the following:

  • Gather the necessary input from the user, including which sensors to monitor, what Mode to trigger, and other app preferences.
  • Subscribe to the appropriate Events, and take action when they are triggered.

Let’s begin with configuring the preferences.

SmartApp preferences

To configure the Bon Voyage app, we will want to gather the following information from the user:

  • Which sensors to monitor
  • The Mode to trigger when everyone is away
  • A false alarm threshold
  • Who should be notified, and how

Each of these inputs corresponds into a preferences section:

preferences {
    section("When all of these people leave home") {
        input "people", "capability.presenceSensor", multiple: true
    section("Change to this mode") {
        input "newMode", "mode", title: "Mode?"
    section("False alarm threshold (defaults to 10 min)") {
        input "falseAlarmThreshold", "decimal", title: "Number of minutes", required: false
    section( "Notifications" ) {
        input("recipients", "contact", title: "Send notifications to", required: false) {
            input "sendPushMessage", "enum", title: "Send a push notification?", options: ["Yes", "No"], required: false
            input "phone", "phone", title: "Send a Text Message?", required: false


Let’s look at each section in a bit more detail.

The When all of these people leave home section allows the user to configure what sensors to use for this app. The user will see a section with the main title “When all of these people leave home.” A drop down will be populated with all the devices that have the presenceSensor capability (capability.presenceSensor) for them to select the sensor(s) they’d like to use. multiple: true allows them to add as many sensors as they’d like. Their choice(s) are then stored in a variable named people.

The Change to this mode section allows the user to specify what Mode should be triggered when everyone is away. The input type of mode is used, so a drop down will be populated with all the modes the user has set up. The title property is used to show the title "Mode?" above the field. The selection is stored in the variable named newMode.

The section False alarm threshold (defaults to 10 min) allows the user to specify a false alarm threshold. These types of thresholds are common in our SmartApps. A section is shown titled “False alarm threshold (defaults to 10 min)”. The input field type of decimal is used, to allow the user to input a numeric value that represents minutes. The title “Number of minutes” is specified, and we set the required property to false. By default, all fields are required, so you must explicitly state if it is not required. We store the user’s input in the variable named falseAlarmThreshold for later use.

Finally, a section is shown labeled as “Notifications”. This is where the user can configure how they want to be notified when everyone is away. This input is a little different; it uses the special input type contact. You can read more about sending notifications in a SmartApp in the Sending Notifications section.

Monitor and react

Now that we have gathered the input we need from the user, we need to listen to the appropriate Events, and take action when they are triggered.

We do this through the required installed() method:

def installed() {
    log.debug "Installed with settings: ${settings}"
    log.debug "Current mode = ${location.mode}, people = ${people.collect{it.label + ': ' + it.currentPresence}}"
    subscribe(people, "presence", presence)

Upon installation, we want to keep track of the status of our people. We use the subscribe() method to listen to the presence attribute of the predefined group of presence sensors, people. When the presence status changes of any of our people, the method presence (the last parameter above) will be called.

(Also note the log statements. We won’t discuss log statements in detail, but providing thorough logging is a habit you will want to get into as a SmartApps developer. It is invaluable when trying to debug or troubleshoot your app!)

Let’s define our presence method.

def presence(evt) {
    log.debug "evt.name: $evt.value"
    if (evt.value == "not present") {
        if (location.mode != newMode) {
            log.debug "checking if everyone is away"
            if (everyoneIsAway()) {
                log.debug "starting sequence"
                runIn(findFalseAlarmThreshold() * 60, "takeAction", [overwrite: false])
        else {
            log.debug "mode is the same, not evaluating"
    else {
        log.debug "present; doing nothing"

// returns true if all configured sensors are not present,
// false otherwise.
private everyoneIsAway() {
    def result = true
    // iterate over our people variable that we defined
    // in the preferences method
    for (person in people) {
        if (person.currentPresence == "present") {
            // someone is present, so set our our result
            // variable to false and terminate the loop.
            result = false
    log.debug "everyoneIsAway: $result"
    return result

// gets the false alarm threshold, in minutes. Defaults to
// 10 minutes if the preference is not defined.
private findFalseAlarmThreshold() {
    // In Groovy, the return statement is implied, and not required.
    // We check to see if the variable we set in the preferences
    // is defined and non-empty, and if it is, return it.  Otherwise,
    // return our default value of 10
    (falseAlarmThreshold != null && falseAlarmThreshold != "") ? falseAlarmThreshold : 10

Let’s break that down a bit.

The first thing we need to do is see what event was triggered. We do this by inspecting the evt variable that is passed to our event handler. The presence capability can be either "present" or "not present".

Next, we check that the current Mode isn’t already set to the Mode we want to trigger. If we’re already in our desired Mode, there’s nothing else for us to do!

Now it starts to get fun!

We have defined two helper methods above: everyoneIsAway() and findFalseAlarmThreshold().

everyoneIsAway() returns true if all configured sensors are not present, and false otherwise. It iterates over all the sensors configured and stored in the people variable, and inspects the currentPresence property. If the currentPresence is "present", we set the result to false, and terminate the loop. We then return the value of the result variable.

findFalseAlarmThreshold() gets the false alarm threshold, in minutes, as configured by the user. If the threshold preference has not been set, it returns 10 minutes as the default.

If everyone is away, we call the built-in runIn() method, which runs the method takeAction() in a specified amount of time (we’ll define that method shortly). We use findFalseAlarmThreshold() multiplied by 60 to convert minutes to seconds, which is what the runIn() method requires. We specify overwrite: false so it won’t overwrite previously scheduled takeAction() calls. In the context of this SmartApp, it means that if one user leaves, and then another user leaves within the false alarm threshold time, takeAction() will still be called twice. By default, overwrite is true, so any previously scheduled takeAction() calls would be canceled and replaced by your current call.

Now we need to define our takeAction() method:

def takeAction() {
    if (everyoneIsAway()) {
        def threshold = 1000 * 60 * findFalseAlarmThreshold() - 1000
        def awayLongEnough = people.findAll { person ->
            def presenceState = person.currentState("presence")
            def elapsed = now() - presenceState.rawDateCreated.time
            elapsed >= threshold
        log.debug "Found ${awayLongEnough.size()} out of ${people.size()} person(s) who were away long enough"
        if (awayLongEnough.size() == people.size()) {
            //def message = "${app.label} changed your mode to '${newMode}' because everyone left home"
            def message = "SmartThings changed your mode to '${newMode}' because everyone left home"
            log.info message
        } else {
            log.debug "not everyone has been away long enough; doing nothing"
    } else {
        log.debug "not everyone is away; doing nothing"

private send(msg) {
    if ( sendPushMessage != "No" ) {
        log.debug( "sending push message" )
        sendPush( msg )

    if ( phone ) {
        log.debug( "sending text message" )
        sendSms( phone, msg )

    log.debug msg

There’s a lot going on here, so we’ll look at some of the more interesting parts.

The first thing we do is check again if everyone is away. This is necessary since something may have changed since it was already called, because of the falseAlarmThreshold().

If everyone is away, we need to find out how many people have been away for long enough, using our false alarm threshold. We create a variable, awayLongEnough and set it through the Groovy findAll() method. The findAll() method returns a subset of the collection based on the logic of the passed-in closure. For each person, we use the currentState() method available to us, and use that to get the time elapsed since the event was triggered. If the time elapsed since this event exceeds our threshold, we add it to the awayLongEnough collection by returning true in our closure (note that we could omit the “return” keyword, as it is implied in Groovy).

For more information about the findAll() method, or how Groovy utilizes closures, consult the Groovy documentation at http://www.groovy-lang.org/documentation.html

If the number of people away long enough equals the total number of people configured for this app, we send a message (we’ll look at that method next), and then call the setLocationMode() method with the desired Mode. This is what will cause a Mode change.

The send() method takes a String parameter, msg, which is the message to send. This is where our app sends a notification to any of the contacts the user has specified.

Finally, we need to write our updated() method, which is called whenever the user changes any of their preferences. When this method is called, we need to call the unsubscribe() method, and then subscribe(), to effectively reset our app.

def updated() {
    log.debug "Updated with settings: ${settings}"
    log.debug "Current mode = ${location.mode}, people = ${people.collect{it.label + ': ' + it.currentPresence}}"
    subscribe(people, "presence", presence)

Complete source code

The complete source code for this SmartApp can be found in the SmartThingsPublic GitHub repository here.