Saturday, April 15, 2017

IFTTT - If This Then That

If you, by now, haven't heard about this service it is time that you did. IFTTT is a free service that can make all kind of things in your life much easier.

First if you think it looks like some kind of programming language. You are wrong. You do not have to have any programming knowledge to use the service. The term IFTTT has however indeed originated in the programming world. It looks like the IF.......THEN...... statements in many programming languages.

So what does it do. Well exactly as the name suggest.

IF THIS (an action you perform) THEN THAT (Initiate another action).

So what can we do with it.

Let me give you a simple example.

I make a lot of photo's with my Android Phone. In fact I use my phone more for photographing as I use my regular cam. Well that is just because it is so convenient. The phone has a good camera quality and I always carry it around. But there is one flaw. I make a lot of photo's but I always forget to upload them to my computer. So they are stuck on my camera and there is always the risk of loosing them. In a previous story I told you that I use cloud services like Copy, Dropbox and Google Drive to upload my photo's, but you need the discipline to actually do that and that is where it lacks me.
So wouldn't it be great if you could automate that.

And that is where IFTTT comes in.

Direct your browser to and open an account. As it is a free service there is nothing that should prevent you from doing that.

In IFTTT you can make automated actions called Recipes. So I made a recipe that works as follows:

IF (I make a photograph on my phone) THEN (upload it automatically to Google Drive).

Ok let's do that in a step by step order.

First click on the tab 'My Recipes'
And choose Create a Recipe. A new screen opens that looks like this:

 Now click on the blue 'this'

The screen changes and there is a line in which you can type what you are looking for.

As you can see I filled in that I was looking for android.
Choose Android Photo and IFTTT gives you some options.

 Choose 'any new photo'

 Now press the blue button that says 'Create trigger'

Next step is choosing what happens after the photo is taken. The IF THIS from IFTTT is IF a photo is taken. We are now going to tell IFTTT what to do: the THEN side. So click the blue 'that' and search for the Google Drive logo and click on it.

Connect to your Google Drive account by filling in the form.
Just finish the required steps (for privacy reasons I do not show them here) and you're done.

Next thing is to download the IFTTT app on your phone from the play store and activate the account on your phone and you're set to go. Each time you make a new photograph with your phone the picture will automatically upload to your Google drive account.

I made the same recipe for my dropbox account. So a picture taken is automatically written to both my Dropbox as well as Google Drive. Just for safety.

However you can make things easy by making the following recipe:

This means that any new posting in your Drop-Box account is automatically copied to your Google Drive.

There are hundreds no maybe thousands recipes to discover.

This recipe couples Blogger to twitter. So the IF is Blogger and the THAT is Twitter. This tells IFTTT to post any new web-log entry automatically to twitter.

The recipe above is just for your phone. The IF is your home location and the THAT is to turn wifi in your phone off to save battery power.

Just browse all the channels in IFTTT and use your imagination. There are hundreds of possibillities which can make life a lot easier.

And then there is one channel on IFTTT that deserves our special attention and that is the Maker Channel. Using the Maker Channel we can trigger events with an ESP-8266 for example. This gives us tremendous possibilities with the Internet of Things. I'll show you how to use that in another story.

For now. Just try it and have fun.

Luc Volders