Say you’re the owner of a local, independent restaurant. And say you’ve noticed over the years that in the fall, when the temperature drops significantly, people order more coffee. Like, a lot more. But, because coffee has been low on the priority list all summer, your people have been forgetting to brew it. And so, you’ve had some frustrated customers who’ve had to wait a long time for coffee to brew…
Now, as that business owner, imagine how cool it would be to get a text reminder to start brewing fresh coffee when the temperature drops below 60. That would be amazing, wouldn’t it?
That kind of thinking and reasoning is exactly what’s behind the web service called IFTTT.
If this, then that, or IFTTT, is the new recipe maker that brings a number of web services together for an automated and connected experience. IFTTT was developed by Linden Tibbets and was launched in 2010. His view was that the tool would generate creative and interesting interactions among web services that most people use on a daily basis, but not necessarily in conjunction with one another.
Mimicking rules in other applications, IFTTT creates a cause-effect relationship between two web applications or services through automated triggers. For example, if you are a fan of weather forecasts, IFTTT could add weather alerts to your calendar automatically. And in the example above, a weather alert could trigger a text message.
How do I use IFTTT?
To start using IFTTT, you need to create an account on www.ifttt.com. Recipes or tasks allow you to create a workflow based on some sort of conditional statement.
Once you are in, you will have to choose which channels or web services you would like to link. Channels are the basic building blocks of IFTTT. Each Channel has its own Triggers and Actions. Some example Channels are Facebook, Evernote, Email, Weather, and LinkedIn.
You will then be prompted to choose a trigger, which is the ‘this’ part of the recipe. So, if you choose to create a recipe for Facebook (channel), you will have to choose what in Facebook you would like to be notified about (trigger) and the means used to notify you (action). Action is the ‘that’ part of the recipe where you send a text message to yourself or create a status message on Facebook.
Then, it gets even better: you get to choose the ingredients of your recipe, which are the pieces of data that form your trigger. For example, if you were creating an email trigger, you may include the subject, body, attachment, received date, and the sender’s address as your ingredients.
Finally you’ve got a personal recipe! You have combined a trigger and action from your own personal channels to create an automated event. Users can share their creations or recipes with others or can choose to keep them private.
Since the launch of the service, thousands and thousands recipes have been created and many more tasks have been set in motion using one of those recipes.