If this then that…

I’ve just discovered a new piece of Internet plumbing, or Internet automation – If this then that…, ifttt.com. It is in its early stages and currently running as an invite-only beta. It looks very promising, though, and right now can replace the combination of RSS feeds and feedmyinbox.com I use the keep my twitter archive in Evernote. It can do much more, too.

The basic concept is very simple. There are a set of channels – internet services that ifttt can interact with. These are the obvious things like Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, Evernote, Dropbox, flickr, gmail, WordPress and so on. Each channel has a set of triggers – things that happen on the service that ifttt can react to – and actions – things that ifttt can cause to happen on the service. For example, the twitter channel has the following triggers:

  • New tweet by you
  • New tweet by you with a given hashtag
  • Mention of you
  • New result in a twitter search
  • And quite a few more…

and the following actions:

  • Post a tweet
  • Add a user to a list

From these triggers and actions on channels you create tasks. A task is of the form “if this trigger happens then do that action”. For example I have a task that says “if new tweet by me, post a note to evernote”. The actions are all configurable in many ways, so for the note posted in evernote above you can control the title and body of the note, the notebook it is posted in and the tags attached to the note. All of these can contain values from the trigger – the original tweet text, the user that posted it, the URL of the tweet, the date of the tweet, etc. Very powerful stuff and very easy to set up and manage.

What can you do with it? Creating my twitter archive in evernote is the first thing I tried. I have three tasks that post my tweets, favorites and mentions into a Twitter notebook in Evernote. I have a task that posts stared items in Google Reader into Evernote. I have a task that tweets links to new posts in this blog. Those are fairly obvious “copy stuff from one service to another” tasks. More interesting are automation tasks. Using the twitter channel above I could create a search for tweets mentioning “#theapprentice” and add such users to an “Apprentice Fans” list. There’s a weather channel that I could use to send myself a twitter dm when the forecast is for rain. And as more channels, triggers and actions are added, more possibilities will arise.

After playing with ifttt.com for just a couple of hours I can see it has lots of potential. I just need to dust off my creative thinking hat to make soem good use of it now! Do you have any suggestions for things you could automate in this way? Have you tried ifttt and done something really clever with it? Do let me know in the comments.

I have a few (only a few) invites. If you want one, drop me a note on twitter – first come, first served!

 

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2 comments

  1. [...] a great write-up on how it works check out this post by Steve Rumsby (@steverumsby).  You can also read the “about” page on the ifttt [...]

  2. very interesting, thanks

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