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If This Then Basically Anything
February 11, 2013 8:41 PM   Subscribe

Though it was discussed before in beta, If This Then That lets you do amazing things by connecting web services together. There is a good Lifehacker guide to getting started, but then you can create your own "recipes:" automate job searches, download torrents by sending emails from your phone, text to escape awkward situations and much more

Some other favorites:
Download any Facebook photo in which you are tagged to Dropbox
Get notified when packages change status in shipping
Transcribe voicemail to Evernote
Send any Google reader articles that you tag to a Kindle
Save starred Google Reader items to Pocket
Lots of cool stuff if you have Belkin Web Switches attached to lights.
posted by blahblahblah (56 comments total) 172 users marked this as a favorite

 
Is there a reason why Web 3.0 is only being offered in the Large-Print Edition?
posted by schmod at 8:44 PM on February 11, 2013 [9 favorites]


Oh, neat! They're scraping Craigslist. This has ended well for literally everybody else who's tried doing that.... *Grabs popcorn*

Also, would it have been too hard for them to have built an interface to allow me to define my own "that" services? This thing would be 500x more useful if it let me fire off HTTP requests at a server of my choosing (or let me define my own services).
posted by schmod at 8:49 PM on February 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


As a fun demo, I put together a recipe that sends me an email whenever Filthy Light Thief posts an FPP. It should work, but feel free to modify as needed.
posted by blahblahblah at 8:53 PM on February 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I hope their security is good, because I could see this wrecking your life if you got hacked.
posted by empath at 9:00 PM on February 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


I adore ifttt. My current favorite is "Email me if it's supposed to rain tomorrow." Because the sad truth is I can't be bothered to look out the window, but I can certainly check my email. It adapts to meeee!
posted by samthemander at 9:01 PM on February 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


Ok. I'm less dismissive of this now that I've gotten a chance to play around with it. The ability to arbitrarily define a REST interface would still be pretty rad, but they've done a magnificent job of this.

I'm going to very sad when Google buys it and shuts it down.
posted by schmod at 9:19 PM on February 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


This seems really cool, but I'm basically terrified to give it access to anything personal like twitter, facebook, and so on.
posted by Joh at 9:24 PM on February 11, 2013


I just set this up to send me a text when it's not raining out, so I'll be motivated to leave the house... (Vancouver in winter blues, man.)
posted by lookoutbelow at 9:40 PM on February 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've been using this for my company's web presence for a few months. Everytime someone tags a personal instagram photo or tweet with an agreed upon phrase it creates a tumblr post with the content. After years of trying in vain to convince people to contribute to the site, now everyone has become content creators without even realizing it. And our tumblr has become an awesome snapshot of what we're up to day to day. Not that the technology to aggregate content in that way didn't already exist, but this took 5 minutes to setup and works flawlessly.
posted by billyfleetwood at 9:41 PM on February 11, 2013 [6 favorites]


Sorry to be That Guy, but shouldn't there be a search/replace so "than" becomes "then"?
posted by hippybear at 9:48 PM on February 11, 2013 [5 favorites]


Sorry to be That Guy, but shouldn't there be a search/replace so "than" becomes "then"?

If I make an embarrassing grammar mistake then please fix it, mods, before I get mocked too much
posted by blahblahblah at 9:59 PM on February 11, 2013 [5 favorites]


hippybear: the site has it right, it's just a typo/misspelling in this post.

Thanks for the post - this is interesting/worth looking into.
posted by el io at 10:00 PM on February 11, 2013


I used ittt to find a really nice accordion for $100. It was easy!*

*not a paid spokesperson. results may vary.
posted by not_on_display at 10:01 PM on February 11, 2013


blahblahblah: naw, we won't mock you too much.... (and good post!)
posted by el io at 10:01 PM on February 11, 2013


I'd probably start a bunch of separate email addresses for this sort of thing.

I do that anyone, one more won't hurt.
posted by solarion at 10:18 PM on February 11, 2013


Spelling fixed, carry on.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 10:25 PM on February 11, 2013


blahblahblah, don't worry, you are just following in the sloppy footsteps of "one-typo-per-post-swell-foop"
posted by oneswellfoop at 11:14 PM on February 11, 2013


Every year on ___ date, post on Facebook "Thanks for the birthday wishes". This will do battle against all the bots posting birthday wishes. Pretty soon FB will become "a perfect facsimile or simulacrum of goodwill without goodwill's real spirit" (DFW).
posted by stbalbach at 11:22 PM on February 11, 2013 [9 favorites]


But how much is too much?
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 11:51 PM on February 11, 2013


I am personally obsessed with IFTTT.

Using a combination of Yahoo Pipes and IFTTT, I have it set up to scrape all of my favorite blogs and news sites based on certain parameters and then dump full text articles into Pocket, which I can read on my phone whenever I have a little bit of down time. It's totally, totally brilliant.
posted by daniel striped tiger at 11:56 PM on February 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


Does anyone know how Zapier and IFTTT are related? Did someone from IFTTT decide to break off and get VC funding, or did they just decide that if IFTTT isn't going to offer it as a paid service, they will? Because they seem like pretty much the exact same thing.

I can't even recall how I ran across it the other day, and it has waaay more predefined services. Many of which I've never heard of, but such is the life of SaaS. It'd be nice if there was an open source version, but I guess we kinda already have that.
posted by pwnguin at 12:08 AM on February 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Decent github support would be nice "if I star a project add it to my pinboard.io account with these tags"…
posted by schwa at 12:22 AM on February 12, 2013


Zapier? Heck, some of us still remember Deepleap. (Oh, wow, I actually said that.)
posted by dhartung at 12:36 AM on February 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Reminds me of this. Can I get Netflix for YouTube yet?
posted by Afroblanco at 1:06 AM on February 12, 2013


Can you use AND and OR, etc?
posted by Yowser at 1:56 AM on February 12, 2013


I guess I should say, can you use NAND. The rest can take care of itself.
posted by Yowser at 1:56 AM on February 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I have to give my passwords to all these sites? No way.
posted by unliteral at 2:13 AM on February 12, 2013


AND BUT and OR will get you pretty far!
posted by newdaddy at 3:31 AM on February 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've been using this for yonks. One of my favourites is a recipe that appends a text file on Dropbox with every check-in I make on Foursquare. It's nice have a low-friction record of things I do.
posted by Magnakai at 3:50 AM on February 12, 2013


Is there a reason why Web 3.0 is only being offered in the Large-Print Edition?

Tablets and other touchscreen devices that benefit from big jolly, candy-like buttons.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 3:53 AM on February 12, 2013


Wait, what's wrong with scraping craigslist? I just want a service that lets me grep it for the things I'm looking for. I know people misspell and so forth, but an 80% solution is a lot better than what I have now.
posted by DU at 4:08 AM on February 12, 2013


Okay, I just tried this and am now getting messages from someone going by the handle of LipstickActor and CosmeticShakespeare. They all look slightly like me and something horrible is happening where they are now.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 4:58 AM on February 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Created a recipe over 30 minutes ago. It says it'll run every 15 minutes. Hasn't run once ("never triggered"). Not relishing the prospect of click-and-drooling my way through the dozen search terms I look for on CL. Off to find a less top-heavy tool.
posted by DU at 5:01 AM on February 12, 2013


I'm curious if anyone has a perspective relating this to the first big wave of Web 2.0 "mashup" services that seemed to peek all the way back in 2007 (Yahoo Pipes, OpenKapow, Dapper, etc.). In particular, it reminds me a lot of the short-lived Teqlo, which was a mashup editor for nontechnical users that used graphic "widgets" to allow you to create integrations between various web services.
posted by drlith at 5:34 AM on February 12, 2013


Between this and Dropbox, I feel like there's some really interesting potential... unfortunately, I also feel like the monkeys in 2001 just as the Monolith appears, only nothing happens.
posted by backseatpilot at 5:50 AM on February 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


I use this all the time and it works well for me. I don't do anything mission-critical with it, so if a recipe doesn't run every time it's no big deal. They do a lot of customer support via Twitter and seem to be very responsive, if that's a concern.
posted by tommasz at 5:51 AM on February 12, 2013


Decent github support would be nice "if I star a project add it to my pinboard.io account with these tags"…

A lot of operations on sites without a proper channel can be accomplished with the basic RSS channel. (Adding mefi favourites to pinboard for example.) Plug your github name.atom into something like this:

RSS feed matches starred > Pinboard.in

By the way, the "trigger" count on IFTTT only goes up when the "that" part of the equation is fulfilled.
posted by Lorin at 6:04 AM on February 12, 2013


IF I give you my passwords
THEN get hacked to fuck and force me to change them all
posted by fullerine at 6:11 AM on February 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm thinking the same thing, Fullerine. Of course, there are lots of cool things you can still do with it without entering any sensitive account info.
posted by KGMoney at 6:28 AM on February 12, 2013


I have spent the last 12 hours since this was posted trying to figure out what useless combination of things would actually be productive to implement.
posted by thorny at 6:48 AM on February 12, 2013


Is it possible to be notified (via RSS or something) when a webpage is updated, any web page, not just one of these service icon sites?
posted by stbalbach at 8:10 AM on February 12, 2013


Is it possible to be notified (via RSS or something) when a webpage is updated, any web page, not just one of these service icon sites?

I use page2rss.com for that task. Most of my internet life is run via Google Reader.
posted by Theta States at 8:22 AM on February 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Does anyone know how Zapier and IFTTT are related?

Not at all, I'm pretty sure.
posted by kenko at 8:37 AM on February 12, 2013


Using a combination of Yahoo Pipes and IFTTT, I have it set up to scrape all of my favorite blogs and news sites based on certain parameters and then dump full text articles into Pocket, which I can read on my phone whenever I have a little bit of down time.

The sheer amount of time our society will spend to avoid having to use RSS still astonishes me. This is a solved problem.
posted by gd779 at 8:39 AM on February 12, 2013 [8 favorites]


I think Pipes takes RSS input mainly. Pocket does not.
posted by LogicalDash at 9:02 AM on February 12, 2013


stbalbach: "Is it possible to be notified (via RSS or something) when a webpage is updated, any web page, not just one of these service icon sites?"

I wrote a small bash script that wget's a webpage, and checks it into SVN. From there you can use any manner of post recieves or SVNWeb's RSS feed. At some point I need to switch to using make, and git. Make should make it more robust to transient errors, and git should make setup simpler.

gd779: "The sheer amount of time our society will spend to avoid having to use RSS still astonishes me. This is a solved problem."

While I generally agree that software as a service is a bit like digital sharecropping, and many people would benefit from becoming digital land owners, there are times when RSS is not available, or RSS is incomplete (damn you, partial feeds), or the RSS is too noisy. Most feed reader tools don't come with any way to filter out or transform requests. And those that do are ... less than user friendly. Liferea, the Linux feed reader, supports XSLT (admittedly, you can also use XPath expressions which are simple, but given how far the world is from universal regex literacy, even XPath is doomed.)
posted by pwnguin at 9:02 AM on February 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Like Theta States I use page2rss with google reader as well. I have it linked to Byline on my phone - it's a perfedct way of reading everything. The news of a google reader issue this week and the neglect of reader by google is very worrying - anyone know of a good replacement so I can start to plan a move?
posted by Gilgongo at 10:02 AM on February 12, 2013


Does ifttt get any of your passwords? I've authorized a few services (tumblr, instagram, dropbox), and each time it's opened up that service's authorization page in another window, where I authorize that service to play with ifttt.
posted by benbenson at 10:07 AM on February 12, 2013


Thanks gd779, but I know how RSS works. Did you really think that if I had gone to the trouble of creating a custom solution for my internet reading habits, I hadn't considered using Reeder or similar?

To elaborate on what I said earlier:

What the Pipes actually do is take the RSS feeds of various sites, modify them to my liking, and send them to IFTTT which then sends them to Pocket. The real value is the filtering and full text. I don't always have wifi, and like to read stuff on my (non 3G) ipad.

For example: with Grantland, which sends out a partial feed (usually 150 char descriptions and a link); I have it set up to pull in everything that Rembert Browne writes, unless it's about Pretty Little Liars or it's part of the "Rembert Explains" series; everything Alex Pappademas writes unless it's about the Kardashians, everything Jonah Keri writes about baseball, and everything Chuck Klosterman writes. Then, it goes into the webpage, finds the print version of the page, and then adds that to the feed in a <content> tag. IFTTT then sends new feed items to my Pocket account, which will download everything pending onto my phone and tablet whenever I get some of that sweet, sweet wifi. I don't have to browse the site, I don't have to read about whatever ridiculous thing Jalen Rose said on Bill Simmon's podcast this week, I just get the stuff I want. It's pretty cool.

Pipes actually does have a real scraping feature, which I use for a very specific purpose: I scrape www.downforeveryone.com and send the data to IFTTT as an RSS feed, so if any of the sites I'm responsible for go down, I get a text about it no more than about 30 min later. (This is a good example of actually useful stuff you can do with these services). Here is a good walkthrough of how to do that if you're curious.
posted by daniel striped tiger at 10:10 AM on February 12, 2013 [7 favorites]


After years of working in the internet industry, this is basically why I tossed my smartphone two years ago. Happy times! Reading a book in the train, having actual conversations with people, no more foursquare battles to fight in the supermarket! I even went so far to ditch my internet connection at my work place. I check my email in the morning, check it again during lunch in a wifi café. If I see interesting pieces to read, I save them on my iPad. This is basically it. When in my studio, I'm more productive then ever. Also: I'm getting too old for this shit.
posted by ouke at 10:28 AM on February 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


IFTTT solved one very important problem for a website I admin: the tendency for people to post updates only on Facebook, where about 40% of our audience sees it, instead of on the website. Two years of reminders ranging from gentle to strident failed to make an impression, and so IFTTT now crossposts anything from that FB page to the website. (I mmmay have bent FB's rules a little and the actual user whose FB credentials IFTTT uses mmmay not be, strictly speaking, real. The user who posts the updates to our site is definitely not real.)
posted by telophase at 10:33 AM on February 12, 2013


People! The site does NOT get "access to your passwords."

Specifically, by linking accounts you provide explicit permission (that you can later revoke) to IFTTT to look for specific information to look for triggers, or to edit your data within a service.

For example, your evernote account gives "permission" to IFTT to write into a particular note or notebook. It does not get carte blanche to read through your notebooks, it can only edit data that it has been given access to.
posted by stratastar at 1:09 PM on February 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


I'm really excited about the potential here, but I can't seem to find any recipe that I actually could use.
posted by murfed13 at 7:30 PM on February 12, 2013


There's alot of fun stuff if you can imagine them... I really want more killer examples, but this is my favorite one. It uses the service as a passthrough to really enable the features in other services..

I have it setup to automatically pull every single article I read online into an evernote folder.
Articles I read, I send (through instapaper via fulltextrss) to evernote.

Now if I'm looking for data I read once, or an article to send to someone, I have my own personal database of the universe of articles that I'VE READ. A google search (with the evernote plugin) now additionally goes through my evernote directory, no more bookmarks, no more tagging, a passive full-text instantly searchable database of everything I've read.

Another one: anything I favorite on twitter is placed in a giant rolling list of favorited tweets on evernote. You know what's miserable, looking through your favorites on a twitter client/ the twitter website...

(I can give more details if anyone is interested.)
posted by stratastar at 2:51 PM on February 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


I've used ifttt for a while, really find it useful.

Combined with pinboard.in and gmail, bookmarking a page with a couple of tags, triggers either a forward of the article to friend or gets added to my task list via Omnifocus maildrop.

I'm unsure how they make any money from me though, which is (naively?) worrying.
posted by ben30 at 6:38 AM on February 14, 2013


oh maaannnn. I am getting no sleep tonight but this is changing my life.
posted by iamkimiam at 5:19 PM on February 15, 2013


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