APIs turn web applications you love and use everyday, like Facebook and Twitter, into more seamless and connected experiences. For instance, the Facebook app Selective Tweets allows you to update your Facebook status from Twitter with just a hashtag. But building these connections require countless apps made by different developers. With If this then that, or ifttt, you can create your own connections, allowing you to streamline your online activity to work together.
We began with the theory that as our digital tools became more domain specific and easier to use, there would be vast amounts of creative potential in how any two tools might be used in tandem. We knew that with this immense potential came a problem of equal proportions. There just aren’t enough developers and designers in the world to craft all these connections. A million developers at a million laptops wouldn’t even make a dent. So we set out to build an incredibly simple tool that anyone could use to define creative, event-driven tasks that fit the pattern “if this then that.”
The basic idea as described in a ifttt blog post shown above is using event-driven tasks to create seamless integrations between various services like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and more. For example, when you favorite a tweet, ifttt can automatically save that tweet into Instapaper. Or, if weather conditions in your area forecast rain, ifttt will send you a text message alerting you. The possibilities are endless, with support for your favorite online services continuing to grow.
How things work
Those familiar with programming understand that events are an important aspect of any piece of software. ifttt is based on that idea in which triggers lead to actions. So, at its most basic, if A happens, then B happens.
In ifttt, you create tasks that follow the “if this then that” model. There are already hundreds of premade tasks, or recipes, that you can use, but for those willing to let their imaginations flow, the sky is the limit. ifttt currently supports 35 channels, including Craigslist, Delicious, and foursquare.
“But, I don’t want ifttt to know all of my passwords!”
Adding tasks require you to connect your account to the appropriate channel. So, if the task involves your Twitter account, you would first need to grant ifttt access to your account. Facebook users should be pretty familiar with this process when adding apps to their account.
Fret not. ifttt uses OAuth for this process, which lets you share information from one site with another without handing over your login credentials. So, in other words, ifttt never sees your passwords.
My favorite recipes (so far)
Check out this video on ifttt by CNET’s Sharon Vaknin:
Have you tried out ifttt yet? Have any favorite recipes to share? Let me know in the comments section below!