Tool of the Day: If This Then That

Data is the main currency of the modern Web. The more data you have, the more you can do with it. Lots of developers find keen ways to use data from several services together in one mail application; this is called a mashup. We’ve covered mashups of all sorts here on 10,000 Words, and we’ve even discussed what manipulating this data from APIs means for journalism. But without a knowledge of how APIs work, along with some scripting knowledge, finding ways to make the data from different services work together can be a difficult process.

And then, there was If This Then That.

If This Then That (or ifttt for short) is a dead-simple way to get more out of services you already use. ifttt’s basic building blocks are tasks, triggers, and channels. Tasks are certain actions which you want to occur based on a condition, or trigger. Triggers are tied to channels, which include several popular services such as Dropbox, YouTube and Instapaper. Once the trigger condition has been satisfied, the action occurs. Hence the simplicity of the name of the service: if this, then that.

There’s also a small social aspect to ifttt. Once you’ve finished creating a task, it can be shared to others as a recipe. There are currently close to 1,000 recipes available for public use on ifttt, such as “Archive my tweets to Google Calendar” and “Send my starred items on Google Reader to Instapaper”. ifttt currently uses 30 services, and the more services you activate, the greater the number of tasks you can create.

You can follow along with the ifttt team on Twitter and on Facebook, where they also share useful recipes you can try out for yourself. The team is adding new triggers on a regular basis, so you may see functionality of your favorite service in the near future.

Start building you own tasks and recipes today at