IfThisThenThat: Internet cocktail of web services

So, what many of us do every day? Receive an e-mail in Gmail, publish messages to Twitter, collect notes in Evernote, store files in Dropboxhellip; Some of these actions must be involved in routine operations: for example, you have downloaded the video on YouTube, and to show it to your friends, post a link on Facebook or send e-mail. It may take an extra minute of time and take away some energy, which, in general, is critical, if such actions are carried out occasionally. But active Internet users the lion’s share of attention being paid to the routine processes: posting pictures on multiple photo sharing, store incoming messages in the form of notes and things like Evernote. To simplify the problem, many services provide a variety of integration capabilities – so, laquo; Vkontakteraquo, you can export status to Facebook, LiveJournal and Twitter, and Blogger – to create positions of the letters received by laquo; sekretnyyraquo; e-mail, however, all this is quite fragmented and depends on the parameters of each resource separately.

To keep your web services together, came to light mashup-application. They allow you to build sophisticated combinations, combining functionality of different services – a classic example of mashup is a bunch of Google-maps and sites with ads. One of the first web application to create custom mashups is Yahoo! Pipes – a rather complicated designer by which formed the content of many websites (in particular, the so-called laquo; splogovraquo, for example, come from RSS-flows of foreign blogs that are automatically translated by Google Translater into Russian and published). However, in this review we will focus on another mashup application called IfThisThenThat (literally laquo; if it is, then toraquo ;) , which meets the needs of ordinary users of the Internet.

Home IfThisThenThat

Service recently came out of beta testing phase, and made available for open registration. Unfortunately, the user interface is currently only supports English. The essence of the IfThisThenThat is in the title: if one action is executed in a single application, then another action will happen in the other – the service will act as a mediator between them. Resource supports about fifty Web services with open API: Dropbox, Evernote, Instagram, Twitter and others, including information standards and simple – e-mail, RSS, SMS, date and time. This list is constantly growing, unfortunately, it does not include such popular sites in Russia, as laquo; Vkontakteraquo, and LiveJournal.

list of available channels in IfThisThenThat

You can select two applications and the first to formulate the condition, and the second – the action to be taken as a result of compliance with this condition. For example, you can set as a condition of receiving a Gmail message with an attachment, but as the action – to save the attachment in your Dropbox. The site uses its own terminology to refer to all of the terms used: channel, triggers, actions, tasks, recipe. Channels – a source of information (Gmail, Dropbox); trigger – a condition for the action (receiving messages with attachments), the action – something that should make the service (copy a file to a folder), a problem – the general name of the whole chain of components, and the recipe – it circuit problem, which you can share with others. It should say that the triggers and actions for each channel are different, and their set is increasing as the number of channels themselves.

Consider how it looks like in practice is described.

Creating recipes

Site consists of several sections: laquo; My retseptyraquo;, laquo; Sozdatraquo;, laquo; Prosmotrraquo;, laquo; Kanalyraquo, and laquo; zapisiraquo Account Settings.; Before we move on to new challenges, you can activate the desired channels to facilitate future work. Initially the channel will appear in gray, and when connected they are colored. Each channel is activated own way, and in most applications there is no need to enter the password of the user account – you can be sure about the safety of added accounts. If it’s web services – Facebook, Twitter, Blogger, and others, they have to give the application access IfThisThenThat. For Google Talk contact bot@ifttt.com be added to the list and receive all the PIN-code, it also comes in a letter to activate the e-mail. You can also connect your mobile phone to receive SMS – they come for free (only in Latin), and most importantly, the service works with the Russian, Ukrainian and other operators inclusive. Before the phone number to be entered two zeros (eg 0079134489988) to activate it also will receive a message with a four digit code.

Connect SMS channel in IfThisThenThat

In the channel list contains applications that allow you to configure a task depends on external factors, – laquo; Date and vremyaraquo;, laquo; Pogodaraquo;, laquo; Quotes valyutraquo.; True, if the activation date and time enough to select the time zone, the rest of the data are taken from the service Yahoo!.

Connecting the desired channels, you can begin to create new recipes. They are visually reflected in the formula if this then that, where in place of words, and that this will be replaced with application icons to describe its purpose. Editing task starts with a click on the word of this and consists of seven consecutive steps, with each step of the web page will scroll down and gradually increase in length.

Creating a new recipe IfThisThenThat

In the first step (Choose Trigger Channel) to select the channel for which the condition will be formulated. If it is not activated, you can connect now. In the second step (Choose a Trigger) selects a condition that is the trigger. As mentioned earlier, for each type of channel they are individual, and usually there are not many – one or two, but in some cases, sometimes more (eleven to Twitter, until receiving tweets from a particular user). Consider a few examples of available triggers. For e-mail: laquo; Send email to trigger@ifttt.comraquo; and laquo; Send an email to the specified trigger@ifttt.com heshtegomraquo.; For Google Calendar: laquo; beginning of any sobytiyaraquo, and laquo; Event start containing key slovoraquo.; For YouTube: laquo; New favorites videoraquo;, laquo; New videoraquo scanned, and laquo; New videoraquo loaded;.

Trigger Selection in IfThisThenThat

In the third step (Complete Trigger Fields) field varies with the properties of the trigger, if it is present. In the above examples, it will trigger setting heshtega for e-mail and a keyword for Google Calendar. After that, you can click Create Trigger, and the problem will be half-formed – This word in the statement IfThisThenThat be filled. Then you can click on that word and customize it with the same consistency as the trigger. The fourth step (Choose Action Channel) channel is selected for the action, and here they present a much smaller amount – about thirty (available laquo; passivnyeraquo, applications that can only be used for the promotion of conditions, – the date and time, weather, etc.). The fifth step (Choose an Action) specifies the action. Available actions differ from the active direction and triggers identified by a keyword laquo; dobavitraquo;, laquo; otpravitraquo;: add new event in Google Calendar, send an e-mail, create a post in Blogger. They are available in several variations: for example, you can publish your Facebook status, post office, or upload a photo.

Sixth step (Complete Action Fields) allows you to configure the action – namely, the contents of the text message / file to add. Depending on which channel is selected, it will display a variety of fields, with the properties for the e-mail is the theme and content of the letter, to Dropbox – a source file and folder path and the like. In the fields, you can enter text and add variables that stand braces – for example, laquo; No dannyhraquo.; Variables are taken from the properties of the trigger, and e-mail are as follows: e-mail, the body and subject of the message, URL attachment, date received, and for the pictures on Flickr will be: the title and description of the photo, URL images, short and original URL, download dates, and approved by a moderator. Combining text and variables, you can create a template like the following.

setting action IfThisThenThat

At last, the seventh step (Create and activate) added through the # tags that can be used to find the recipe, then it is activated. It should say that the wait an immediate response from the service is not: new upgrade for ten to fifteen minutes. If you were going to use IFTTT for tasks such as monitoring in real time of new publications on the web, you can leave these hopes. Management creates a task carried out in the section My Recipes. This displays a list, which is filtered through the channels and tags. Recipes can delete, edit, or suspend their operation, as well as to make available to others. So, if you think that we have created a useful combination, then prepare a description and send it to the community IfThisThenThat. Your prescription will be given a unique identification number (Recipes ID), and then other users can access it under Browse. There already exists a considerable number of ideas that can benefit you. Consider some very interesting:

  • Download Facebook Tagged Photo (save to Dropbox photos uploaded to Facebook);
  • Text me the weather every morning (every morning to inform me about the weather on the SMS);
  • Add event to Google Calendar from Google Talk (add Google Calendar event via Google Talk);
  • Star a Gmail, send it to Evernote (save your notes Evernote letters marked in Gmail);
  • When Facebook profile picture changes, update Twitter profile picture (when updating Facebook profile photo edit in Twitter).

You can use ready-made recipes or use them as inspiration to generate their own ideas – for imagination you just unlimited.

Results

IfThisThenThat Service provides an unusual and very interesting possibilities for combining the functionality of the various web services. A little frustrating that is not supported by all the popular sites (I would like to see in the channel list laquo; Vkontakteraquo;, LiveJournal, Google Plus, Picasa, etc.). However, their number is growing as the number of related triggers and actions. Removed and other restrictions – for example, recently allowed the simultaneous execution of tasks to ten, although still valid main limitation associated with their long update – every 10-15 minutes. We hope that it will be charged to owners of premium accounts, the introduction of which has been on the future plans of developers.

Discuss the material in the conference