Shion 2.0b4

I’m happy to announce that Shion 2.0b4 is available for download.

(New to Shion? See this page.)

This is the first public beta release of Shion 2, which I talked about here. To recap, I’ll be doing a new beta release every two to three weeks. Once things are stable, I’ll release Shion 2 as a $35 commercial application. Beta testers who report substantial problems that I fix during the beta will be entitled to a free license when Shion goes on sale.

Since 2.0b4 will be the first release for many of you, here are some of the highlights that make it different than the 1.x application:

1. Shion is built on the new Shion Framework and now runs on Mac OS X 10.5 & 10.4. The application works on both PowerPC and Intel Macs.

2. Insteon users can now control X10 devices using their PowerLinc controllers. Users of legacy X10 equipment can control X10 devices using the CM11a (or compatible) serial controller or the CM15a (or compatible) USB controller.

3. Shion now has an “Events” interface that allows users to bind snapshots or AppleScripts to a variety of events. See this post for details.

4. Overall, communication with existing INSTEON equipment should be more robust than in Shion 1.x.

Since this is a beta, there are a handful of known issues with the software that will be addressed in upcoming releases:

1. The application isn’t very robust against sudden hardware disconnections. In a future release, I’ll include code that gracefully recovers from your curious puppy pulling a PowerLinc USB cable out of your computer.

2. I have received some reports of unreasonable latency when commanding X10 devices using the PowerLinc controller. These are under investigation.

3. I plan to include a Log interface that will be helpful in seeing what’s going on behind the scenes and to troubleshoot device connections.

4. There is not yet a feature that will automatically help set up a new Insteon network. You’ll have to manually link the devices yourself.

5. Thermostat support is coming in a later release.

6. An AppleScript interface is under construction. (This will show up before 2.0 goes on sale.)

7. There is no Apple Remote interface at the moment. This feature may show up in a future commercial release once I decide whether to do it myself or work with something like Remote Buddy.

8. There is no option to enable or disable the dock icon.

9. Support for downloading macros and schedules to controllers will be supported in a future release.

10. The application works fine with multiple types of controllers connected at once, but runs into problems when two controllers of the same type (such as 2 CM15As) are connected at the same time.

11. Two-way X10 devices do not yet report their status to Shion.

The focus of this beta test is to find and squash the bugs in the software. If you have new functionality that you’d like to see or new devices supported, please log those requests to the Shion UserVoice forum. For the purpose of the beta test, I’m only rewarding free licenses to those who report problems, not new ideas. (There’ll be a time and place for new ideas.)

If you have any questions or suggestions, please post a comment below.