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Friday, December 12, 2014

1532. Connecting different services.

I subscribe to a bunch of different Web services, like DropBox and Gmail and Evernote and more. I’d love it if these services could “communicate” better. For example, wouldn’t it be great if, when I mark an email as important, it sends it to a special notebook in Evernote? Or when it’s going to rain tomorrow, get a text on my phone to let me know? Is there some service that does something like this?
Good question! There’s not only one such “uber” service, we know of two of them! One service, If This Then That (or IFTTT, as it’s known) can link together multiple online services and add actions that cause the services to interact. It’s simple to use existing “recipes” that IFTTT provides, or to create your own. Visit IFTTT.com to sign up and check it out.
Ken uses IFTTT.com for several purposes. He does, in fact, receive a text message if the weather is going to be rainy. Using the device attached to the OBD-II port in his car, IFTTT logs every trip he takes to a spreadsheet. (Clearly, someone’s a little retentive.) You can select channels corresponding to services, like BuzzFeed, ESPN, Facebook, Evernote, Gmail, and tons more, use recipes that handle data from the service for you. IFTTT’s ESPN channel includes sample recipes to do things like make your home lights flash when  team scores, or send you an email with the latest Fantasy Baseball news. The Facebook channel has sample recipes—one of them updates your Twitter profile picture if you update your Facebook profile picture.
The possibilities are endless, and IFTTT.com is free.
If you really, seriously get into this sort of cross-product interaction, another site, Zapier.com, does it even better then IFTTT.com. Zapier.com supports more services, with more interactions, than does IFTTT.com. Of course, for this power, there is a cost—Zapier.com lets you “taste” its service for free, but for production use, you must pay a small fee.

Check out both IFTTT.com and Zapier.com—you’ll be amazed at the kinds of things you can do with online services that you never would have thought possible. You’re only limited by your imagination (and the particular services these sites support).

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