17 Jan

IFTTT: Another Time Saving Tool for Webmasters

Keith Lock Oct 06, 2016
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I spoke before about some of the tools that I use to save time in my day. First I have the what I now call the “text macro tool.” The official name is AutoHotkey which has saved me a bundle of time since I installed it. Secondly, there is the Image Resizer software package that I call my “image macro tool.”

Today I want to talk about IFTTT which is an acronym (sort of) that stand for “If This Then That.” It is a word in it’s own right and is pronounced as “gift” but without the “g.” It can be found online at ifttt.com. I learned about it last week and I setup an account just yesterday and I already have some “recipes” in play working on my behalf. Oh, did I mention it’s free? There is a premium version to come from what I understand and I think I already know what features it will have, but let me tell you about the free version and what I know about it.

IFTTT recipe samples

Automate Online Tasks and Even Let your Online World Affect your Offline World

With IFTTT you create what are called recipes. Each recipe currently has two channels. In the future I anticipate more (probably in the paid version). Each channel may or may not have “ingredients” associated with them. When creating a recipe you craft up a “trigger” and an “action” and get the two channels to work together in some way.

Examples of channels include many of the social online apps like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. There are also channels for Craigslist, DropBox, Google Drive, WordPress, Email, RSS, and much more. Other unique channels are Weather, Sports, and Home Lighting.

For a wacky example of a “recipe” you could use the Weather and Home Lighting channels together. You can say, everytime it rains in Vancouver, British Columbia, dim the lights in my kitchen.

A more “on the level” web master type example would be: Every time I add a post to my WordPress blog, submit the post to my Facebook page. If you also want to submit it to your Twitter feed, another recipe would need to be created. Again, I expect that drawback to be lifted in the next or premium version, but that’s just a guess. You can pick from the WordPress “ingredients” on what to include in the Facebook post. Examples include: first image URL, link URL, post title, and so on.

Also, if you want two “triggers” to happen before initiating an “action,” my guess is we’ll be able to do that in the next iteration of IFTTT, or worse, in the premium version. Sadly there is no work-around for that.

Create a New Recipe

It only takes a couple minutes to setup a recipe. First, you need to create an account. You could browse through existing recipes that people chose to share to get an idea of what you can accomplish with it, or jump right in to create your own if you are flowing with ideas.

You will need to “activate” channels for the first time through. This grants IFTTT with some serious access to your accounts. Read their terms and privacy docs if you have any concern. Most people skip that stuff (even when installing apps on their phones) and we could potentially be granting access we do not want to grant (blindly). I’m comfortable with IFTTT though.

Advanced Automation Example

My friend currently uses the DropBox app on her phone in combination with IFTTT to accomplish the following:

“Anytime I take a photo with my smartphone, add it to my DropBox account for safe keeping.” The DropBox app takes care of this part. “Now, anytime a photo is added to my DropBox, add it to my Facebook page.” IFTTT handles this.

Note: This is how she keeps her business Facebook page up to date with photos related to her niche. DropBox is used as the auto-backup tool.

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