The openHAB Documentation Has Moved

The documentation has moved to and

Please use the link below to be redirected to the new version of this article, and update your bookmarks.


Eclipse SmartHome has a strict separation between the physical world (the “things”, see below) and the application, which is built around the notion of “items” (also called the virtual layer).

Items represent functionality that is used by the application (mainly user interfaces or automation logic). Items have a state and are used through events.

The following item types are currently available (alphabetical order):

Item Name Description Command Types
Color Color information (RGB) OnOff, IncreaseDecrease, Percent, HSB
Contact Item storing status of e.g. door/window contacts OpenClose
DateTime Stores date and time -
Dimmer Item carrying a percentage value for dimmers OnOff, IncreaseDecrease, Percent
Group Item to nest other items / collect them in groups -
Image Holds the binary data of an image -
Location Stores GPS coordinates Point
Number Stores values in number format, takes an optional dimension suffix Decimal
Number: like Number, additional dimension information for unit support Quantity
Player Allows to control players (e.g. audio players) PlayPause, NextPrevious, RewindFastforward
Rollershutter Typically used for blinds UpDown, StopMove, Percent
String Stores texts String
Switch Typically used for lights (on/off) OnOff

Group Items

Group items collect other items into groups. Group items can themselves be members of other group items. Cyclic membership is not forbidden but strongly not recommended. User interfaces might display group items as single entries and provide navigation to its members.

Example for a Group item as a simple collection of other items:

    Group groundFloor
    Switch kitchenLight (groundFloor)
    Switch livingroomLight (groundFloor)

Derive Group State from Member Items

Group items can derive their own state from their member items. To derive a state the group item must be constructed using a base item and a group function. When calculating the state, group functions recursively traverse the group’s members and also take members of subgroups into account. If a subgroup however defines a state on its own (having base item & group function set) traversal stops and the state of the subgroup member is taken.

Available group functions:

Function Parameters Base Item Description
EQUALITY - <all> Sets the state of the members if all have equal state. Otherwise UNDEF is set.
AND, OR, NAND, NOR , <all> (must match active & passive state) Sets the <activeState>, if the member state <activeState> evaluates to true under the boolean term. Otherwise the <passiveState> is set.
SUM, AVG, MIN, MAX - Number Sets the state according to the arithmetic function over all member states.
COUNT Number Sets the state to the number of members matching the given regular expression with their states.
LATEST, EARLIEST - DateTime Sets the state to the latest/earliest date from all member states

Examples for derived states on group items when declared in the item DSL:

  • Group:Number:COUNT(".*") counts all members of the group matching the given regular expression, here any character or state (simply count all members).
  • Group:Number:AVG calculates the average value over all member states which can be interpreted as DecimalTypes.
  • Group:Switch:OR(ON,OFF) sets the group state to ON if any of its members has the state ON, OFF if all are off.
  • Group:Switch:AND(ON,OFF) sets the group state to ON if all of its members have the state ON, OFF if any of the group members has a different state than ON.
  • Group:DateTime:LATEST sets the group state to the latest date from all its members states.

State and Command Type Formatting


StringType objects store a simple Java String.


DateTimeType objects are parsed using Java’s SimpleDateFormat.parse() using the first matching pattern:

  1. yyyy-MM-dd'T'HH:mm:ss.SSSZ
  2. yyyy-MM-dd'T'HH:mm:ss.SSSz
  3. yyyy-MM-dd'T'HH:mm:ss.SSSX
  4. yyyy-MM-dd'T'HH:mm:ssz
  5. yyyy-MM-dd'T'HH:mm:ss
Literal Standard Example
z General time zone Pacific Standard Time; PST; GMT-08:00
Z RFC 822 time zone -0800
X ISO 8601 time zone -08; -0800; -08:00

DecimalType, PercentType

DecimalType and PercentType objects use Java’s BigDecimal constructor for conversion. PercentType values range from 0 to 100.


A numerical type which carries a unit in addition to its value. The framework is capable of automatic conversion between units depending on the users locale settings. See the concept on Units of Measurement for more details.


HSB string values consist of three comma-separated values for hue (0-360°), saturation (0-100%), and value (0-100%) respectively, e.g. 240,100,100 for blue.


PointType strings consist of three DecimalTypes separated by commas, indicating latitude and longitude in degrees, and altitude in meters respectively.

Enum Types

Type Supported Values
IncreaseDecreaseType INCREASE, DECREASE
NextPreviousType NEXT, PREVIOUS
OnOffType ON, OFF
OpenClosedType OPEN, CLOSED
PlayPauseType PLAY, PAUSE
RewindFastforwardType REWIND, FASTFORWARD
StopMoveType STOP, MOVE
UpDownType UP, DOWN

A note on items which accept multiple state data types

There are a number of items which accept multiple state data types, for example DimmerItem, which accepts OnOffType and PercentType, RollershutterItem, which accepts PercentType and UpDownType, or ColorItem, which accepts HSBType, OnOffType and PercentType. Since an item has a SINGLE state, these multiple data types can be considered different views to this state. The data type carrying the most information about the state is usually used to keep the internal state for the item, and other datatypes are converted from this main data type. This main data type is normally the first element in the list returned by Item.getAcceptedDataTypes().

Here is a short table demonstrating conversions for the examples above:

Item Name Main Data Type Additional Data Types Conversions
Color HSBType OnOffType - OFF if the brightness level in the HSBType equals 0, ON otherwise
PercentType - the value for the brightness level in the HSBType
Dimmer PercentType OnOffType - OFF if the brightness level indicated by the percent type equals 0, ON otherwise
Rollershutter PercentType UpDownType - UP if the shutter level indicated by the percent type equals 0, DOWN if it equals 100, and UnDefType.UNDEF for any other value

Item Metadata

Sometimes additional information is required to be attached to items for certain use-cases. This could be e.g. an application which needs some hints in order to render the items in a generic way or an integration with voice controlled assistants or any other services which access the items and need to understand their “meaning”.

For this purpose, such meta-information can be attached to items using disjunct namespaces so they won’t conflict with each other. Each metadata entry has a main value and optionally additional key/value pairs. There can be metadata attached to an item for as many namespaces as desired, like in the following example:

Switch "My Fan" { homekit="Fan.v2", alexa="Fan" [ type="oscillating", speedSteps=3 ] }

The metadata can alternatively maintained via a dedicated REST endpoint and is included in the EnrichedItemDTO responses.

Extensions which can infer some metadata automatically need to implement an register a MetadataProvider service in order to make them available to the system. They may provision them from any source they like and also dynamically remove or add data. They are also not restricted to a single namespace.

The MetadataRegistry provides access for all extensions which need to read the item metadata programmatically. It is the central place where additional information about items is kept.