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  • xAP HomeSeer Plugin Released - Beta

    What is it?

    While the features of the plugin are many, simply put, it enables any
    xAP device to control HomeSeer and for HomeSeer to be able to control
    any xAP device. Most of the basic stuff is done automatically and when
    things require a little user input, like the new hardware wizard, they
    are done as simply as possible. This is not to say the plugin only does
    the basic stuff, there is scripting support, raw xAP variables, event
    sequences and much more.

    What is xAP?
    xAP is an open standard for different devices to talk to each other. As long as the device supports xAP you can now control it and get information from it in HomeSeer. While there are loads of xAP systems/hardware/applications out there some examples of them are; Slimp3, C-Bus, Weather, News, Stocks, Barionet, Exstreamer, PC Status, Red Rat, Meteor, HomePod, Asterisk... see www.xapautomation.org for a full list. As xAP is fully distributed over any network; serial,ethernet,rs485,radio for example any of these apps can be anywhere on you network and sill be active within HomeSeer.

    What the plugin does - The full spec

    1, Supports 2 remote X10 interfaces via xAP with routing
    2, Any change to any device is output over xAP
    3, Wizard based install of virtual devices for detected xAP hardware
    4, Allows xAP commands to control HomeSeer. These include changing any
    device, launching an event and tts.
    5, Text to speech support both HomeSeer formatted messages and the
    general tts schema used by xAP speech.
    6, Full support for xAP basic status and control. This applies to all
    HomeSeer devices not just those created from this plugin. This gives you
    full control over any device from any HomeSeer plugin as well as
    internal ones.
    7, All the databases that the plugin uses to process are all web
    updateable via a simple click.
    8, Event sequence editor. Many xAP messages can be sent on one event.
    These events are triggered from within the standard HomeSeer event
    system so can be based on time, email, voice etc. You can also trigger
    command line apps as part of the sequence.
    9, Infra Red xAP sequences. On receipt of an IR xAP message the plugin
    can generate many other xAP messages or command line triggers.
    10, Device change sequences. When any HomeSeer device changes a sequence
    of events is run.
    11, All of the above sequences are made in an easy to use gui. You don't
    need to know anything about xAP to use them, for example to make a
    slimp3 pause you first pick slimp3 from a drop down list and then pause,
    that's it!
    12, Any element of any of the sequences can contain information from any
    other device or any HomeSeer global variable.
    13, You can send a xAP message from a HomeSeer script by a simple 1 line
    command
    14, As well as creating devices based on xAP data there is also a table
    of xAP variables that can be used. Once data is loaded in these
    variables they can be used as part of any of the xAP event sequences
    (IR, device change and regular HomeSeer events)
    15, All the xAP variables are available as HomeSeer global variables for
    use within HomeSeer scripts.

    Please remember this is beta software. I would expect the final release
    to happen within two weeks. The plugin has proved very stable over the
    last few months and has been tested on some very large xAP networks.
    Thanks go to all those who helped test it out :-)

    Download from www.mi4.biz www.mi4.biz

    Guides and howtos
    http://www.mi4.biz/modules.php?name=...tegories&cid=5

    Some screenshots of it in action:
    http://www.mi4.biz/modules.php?name=...article&sid=47

    Enjoy

    James
    mi4.biz

  • #2
    Well done James , and many thanks for all the hard work and effort that I know has gone into this. I think as people investigate just what can be accomplished here using the plugin whole new ways of doing things will materialise.

    I know a lot of people will never have heard of xAP so over the next couple of days I'll try and ensure that some xAP people post a bit of background on what xAP is and how to use it. For those eager to explore there are the following sites .

    The official xAP site

    xAP Automation which also carries the full xAP v1.2 specification.

    Main Application sites

    mi4 James's site -plugin author, many applications.

    xAP Framework Stuarts site - .Net xAP development framework and xAP hubs/ viewer tools as well as several applications and tutorials.

    Patricks' site - various applications, tools, a xAP OCX and Linux examples

    There are also two Yahoo Groups that have quite a history of messages

    xAP Automation for general xAP matters and discussion which will run in parallel with this group for talks around the plugin and all things xAP

    xAP Developer for more technical matters and programmers.

    More anon... Kevin

    Comment


    • #3
      James,
      This plugin will be a great HA addition for HomeSeer. A couple of things I have seen so far.
      Do we really need a .Net Hub to utilize this plugin to its fullest, or is that just for local XAP aware apps?
      Is there a NON .Net hub available. I haven't seen one yet in my research. Just .Net
      Although my testing has been so far limited to installing and enabling the plugin in HS. I have seen my CPU usage skyrocket from an average of 20% to over 70% with this plugin enabled. Is there somewhere this can be brought down to acceptable levels. Any action in HS just pegs things till HS is done and it rolls back to a constant 70%. I have these plugins installed, Message Server Plugin, Hauppauge Capture Plugin, My Web Image Plugin, My Labjack Plugin, all running at an average 20% CPU usage.
      I am going to test on another box. I'll post back.....JG

      P2 350 256 ram
      W2K SP3
      HS 1.7.9
      xAP Conduit 0.6.605
      HS2PRO - Ocelot, SecuIR, Secu16, Attendence Management Alarm Interface, X-10, LCD Studio VFD Display, 3 Apexis IP Cams, Custom Software Interfaces, GMQ Geiger Graphing
      HS3PRO - Testing

      Comment


      • #4
        Hi Jebus,

        There is a non .Net hub available on Patricks site http://patrick.lidstone.net/ha - that is a very tiny/fast application but requires the Cygwin dll. If you have no other xAP applications running on the server then you don't need a hub at all, I think thsi is the case with your setup. The other xAP apps can run on any machine on your network quite happily, that is one of the great things about xAP.
        Re the speed issues you're seeing that doesnt sound right at all - I am running on an admittedly much faster machine but the cpu usage is absolutely minimal. I am running 6 SliMP3 players all updating HS and a full Clipsal C-Bus lighting system (plus weather, news, watcher, xAP X10, CID and xAP Desktop) without any issues. I am not familiar with a lot of the other plugins you mention though. Try using xAP Viewer from www.xapframework.net (which will automatically provide a hub function if launched first). This can run on any machine on your network. Viewer will display all xAP network traffic - are you seeing a lot of xAP messages ? - these will get originated by constantly changing devices. The only other thing I can think is the PC is relatively low powered (P2 350 256RAM) and maybe suffering some RAM paging issues too caused by the extra software - running Patricks hub would maybe save some space or even better no hub at all if all your xAP apps can be run on other machines which I think is how you're planning it ?

        Kevin

        Comment


        • #5
          I'm glad to see you finally are taking the plunge onto this message board. It is nice to increase the awareness of the technology and provide the functionality of the plugin in particular.

          I'm familiar with xap, but not with the paradymn that the plugin introduces. I suspect that many others on this message board will have a hard time getting started. Some basic examples and lots of discussion will help.

          The first thing I noticed when I started it up was the xap viewer identified a subset of my homeseer devices as nodes on the network. The attachment shows this view.

          I looked at a message associated with an event and saw the xAPstatus.event class message, output.state with a key/value pair of 3c=OFF. The device that it reported on contains text in the device string, but I do not recognize the 3c or OFF as being part of it. What is this message trying to tell me and under what conditions will it be generated? Will these nodes eventually appear for all my homeseer devices?

          I have other xap applications running on a second computer. These are seen by the message viewer, but never saw anything about this via the xap conduit.

          I started another xap application on the same computer as xap conduit and the wizard popped up. I went to raw data option and three checkboxes appeared. I cancelled from this point since I did not what was going to happen. Can you explain what will happen. The message that it popped up on was a configuration query message from the xap application that is managing all the other applications running.

          I looked at the event menu item and the tab on the event selection from the homeseer GUI. It looked as if it was asking me to enter text, but I have no idea what to enter to accomplish what objective. I'm ceratin it will be easy once I understand how to use it.

          It seems that the X10 interface expects to have an X10-compliant xap node. Which X10 connector do you recommend that can handle the full capabilities that are exercised by the general X10 interface commanded by homeseer?

          I also get a popup message about 1 minute into the session and a homeseer restart is needed to get communications going again. It is a message box with "Socket is non-blocking and the specified operation will block".
          Attached Files

          Comment


          • #6
            Ok I'm confused but this is the norm. Can you elaborate on the weather xAP app. Is this an executable that produces xAP output or what. I'm trying to get a handle on this xAP concept and I'm having trouble getting a simple picture.
            -Rupp
            sigpic

            Comment


            • #7
              In concept this, as well as any xap application, will take data of interest and place it on the network using a well-defined schema. There may be other xap applications that want to use some elements of the weather data for some purpose and they will grab it as it flys by the network.

              You can think of the xap schema as having the same advantages of XML, however, it is geared more to small controllers that do not have the memory space to hold an XML parser.

              It tends to support an environment where there are many small microcontrollers that are network savy. Each of these controllers can do one thing, but all speaking the common xap language can do some powerful things.

              The typical homeseer orientation is where all information goes into homeseer and then this information is centally processed to take control actions.

              In a xap environment this centralization is not necessary, but can still be used if desired. There are things that are best centralized and others that are best done in a distributed manner.

              In the weather example you asked about let us assume that you have a web server that updating the screen, an irrigation system, and a dome stadium where the dome closes based upon rain and temperature. You could have homeseer do a getURL to get the data, then events based upon the content of the data to update the screen, to irrigate, and to control the dome.

              Another way to do it is to make the network aware of weather data by a microprocessor that does nothing more than transmit any change in weather conditions/forecast. Another processor that runs the irrigation. The irrigation processor will also be listenting to the external device that transmits changes in moisture content. Based upon forecast and moisture it will decide to irrigate. The same autonomous logic can be applied to the stadium dome as well. Of course all these processors could be processes in a single processor or any combination.

              Comment


              • #8
                I had the same problem with CPU utilization. My system normally runs around 20% to 25%, and HS is about half of that. With this plugin enabled, HS was taking 75% to 80% and the overall CPU was over 90%. I have a P4 1.4M with 512MB. I'll do some more testing over the weekend to see if I can figure out what is going on. I don't know if this matters or not, but I have 350 devices defined.

                Bill

                Comment


                • #9
                  Hmm... interesting, I only checked because you;d already mentioned it, and sure enough, I've noticed quite a hike in CPU as well...

                  runs at a pretty constant average of around 70%, with occasional peaks up into the high nineties. The Homeseer.exe process accounts for virtually all of the CPU use on the machine (all but about 10% of whats being used).

                  I didn't benchmark it before installing the plugin, but I think I'll do that next to get an idea of how much this plugin is specifically responsible for...

                  My Homeseer PC is an AMD Athlon XP1400+ with 512MB RAM running Windows 2000 server SP4 and .NET framework 1.1

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Gonna leave the CPU comments to James - would be interested how much xAP traffic your setups are generating though ??

                    Michael - I know we need lots of examples, discussion , how-to's etc - they're well up on the 'todo' list - I know you issue very comprehensive docs with your apps and we hope to too with this plugin in time. Help btw is being worked on constantly and is available via the plugin 'Help' menu if you have an internet connection.
                    The xAP nodes you see introduced when you started the plugin are correct - you look to have a bucketload of temp sensors and these will appear as xAP devices using the BSC ' Basic Status and Control' schema. This is the xAP enabling of standard HS devices. I am going to start an adjacent thread on BSC as its a topic all to itself and carry part of your post over to there if I may.
                    You mentioned that the xAP wizard did not trigger when you launched remote xAP applications it most definitely should have done. xAP communicates using UDP broadcast and all machines see all messages. A common cause of xAP application appearing deaf is a missing hub. Either HomeSeer must be the only xAP application running on a machine or you must have a xAP hub running BEFORE any xAP applications launch (including HomeSeer). Now you mention local xAP applications did trigger the wizard OK so I wonder if perhaps the device had already triggered ?? A device is only recognised (by its xAP source address) the first time it appears, therafter it is ignored. It can be re-detected from the xAP Conduit>Config menu by selecting the source address and clicking the button. If the source address does not appear in the list above the button there is some other problem why it is not being heard on that PC. I know we had some problems with mutiple network interface cards in your setup , was this resolved ?? Kevin

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      CouchPotatoe
                      I just loaded the plugin and it's telling me I should be running an xAP hub BUT I have no other xAP app running on my machine. Is a hub mandatory? If so shouldn't it be included in the install?
                      -Rupp
                      sigpic

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        It's not mandatory - its a sort of 'warning'. only one xAP application can listen to xAP traffic on a given machine without a hub. If the xAP HS plugin is the only xAP application you intend to use on the machine then you are fine as is. If you wish to run more then you need a hub. xAP applications can run on any machine on your network, a 'distributed' approach - there is no discernable difference to xAP.

                        We didnt enforce/include one in the install as they take up extra resources on a PC (particularly the .Net ones) and some of the machines HS is running on seem fairly tight on specification. I now think it might be an idea to include a separate or selectable hub installation as part of the distribution though as this is tripping up virtually everyone. (or maybe even an auto hub mode - something maybe for version 2). A better description of the log message would help too. K

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Rupp, Paul, Bill, Michael

                          I am looking at the CPU usage at the moment, I have some ideas where the issue may lie. I will keep you informed.
                          I run HomeSeer with the plugin on a P2 400, I have about 30 devices both x10 and xAP and my cpu usage is <1%. I think it is happening when my plugin polls the state of other devices from other plugins that is causing the higher usage, I don't push Homeseer nearly as hard as you guys :-)

                          Michael, all the xapstatus messages and the tree you are seeing in viewer are related to xAP Basic Status and control which ,simply put, is the xAP version of X10 just much more upto date and powerful, yet equally simple. CP has posted another thread describing BSC in the forum

                          James

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I initially tested with a config.xml that hade only 20 or so devices and I did not see any CPU utilization issues. When I restarted with my full config.xml then the utilzation was steady state in the > 70% range. I removed xap Conduit and steady-state utilization went back to near zero.

                            I do have my xap Plugin, mcsTemperature, and mcsAudrey which are running xap traffic installed in both the above configurations so the problem is not specific to xap, but as to how xap conduit manages a large set of devices.

                            I also received the following error when trying to unistall the plugin. Don't know if only during this uninstall mode or it may occur at other times

                            "Cannot show non-modal form when modal form is displayed"

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              It have gone through the code and I believe that the enclosed plugin will solve the CPU issue. Try as I might adding devices from any plugin I could find (about 80 devices) I couldn't get the plugin going to the high cpus. Could any of you that are experiencing this issue give this new ocx a go and let me know if it fixes it.
                              I am currently trying to locate that modal error.
                              Michael, do you have a website for all you xAP applications? We are trying to compile a full list of apps on the xapautomation.org site and it would be good to add yours to the list (if you don't mind that is)

                              James
                              Attached Files

                              Comment

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