Join Charles G. Hollins for an in-depth discussion in this video Understanding channel categories, part of Up and Running with IFTTT.
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This video outlines several categories that you can use to better understand the relationships between IFTTT channels. As you can see from the IFTTT channel page, there are over 80 currently supported channels in IFTTT. The one thing I feel that IFTTT is lacking, is a way to visualize how these channels relate to each other. Because they're arranged alphabetically, it's very difficult to see which channels and corresponding applications are similar. So we'll now explore several channel categories and gain insight into how you might use them.
I'll quickly introduce you to each category, identify the current channels, and highlight common ways that people use them in IFTTT recipes. The first category is Blogging. Blog applications such as blogger, tumbler and WordPress, enable you to quickly and easily create, publish and manage content for the web. With IFTTT, you can automatically generate a tweet when you publish an article to Blogger, or generate a Tumblr post each time you add an image to Instagram or Dropbox.
Box, Dropbox, Google Drive, and SkyDrive, are all cloud storage applications, that allow you to store just about any type of file online. There files can be accessed from smartphones and tablets, or shared publicly or with specific people. They can also be synchronized with folders on your desktop computer. Google Drive also has a cloud based software suite that includes word processor, and spreadsheet applications. Many IFTTT users have created recipes that combine cloud storage channels, with other channels to automatically download, or upload files and or links to those files.
Collaboration, applications enable groups of people to communicate by posting messages, links and files. Many IFTTT recipes trigger when content is uploaded, or posted to social networking applications such as Twitter or Facebook. And automatically relay that content to a group using one or more of these collaboration channels, T=these include campfire, Salesforce chatter and yammer. Email, Gmail, Google Talk, phone call and sms are channels that belong to the communication category.
Although very different from each other, they all have something in common. They're all used to send and receive messages. Communication channels are often used in recipe actions as a method of notification. For example, call my phone to wake me up at 7 a.m, and tell me the weather forecast. Send me a text message if my stock drops below 10%. Send me an email if there's a new post for the item that I've searched for on Craigslist. In the context of IFTT, a feed is a file that's designed to maintain the updates associated with a website, or some other source of content.
There's a single feed channel in IFTT, but it can be used to monitor any feed, also called RSS feed on any web site. So an important takeaway from this video, is that even if there is no channel explicitly defined in IFTTT for a particular blog or site, you still may be able to use the feed channel to incorporate that site into a recipe. For example, you might want to be notified when a new article is posted to your favorite blog.
Even though there may not be a channel for that blog, you can still use the feed channel to create a trigger. We'll see several examples in the last chapter. If location channels include triggers that monitor where you are, for example, iPhone users can use the IOS location channel to generate a log of when they enter or exit their work location. JetSetMe users, traveling around the world, can automatically post a tweet each time they arrive in a new country.
The media category includes channels for social media sites that allow you to view and publish images, audio and video files. Examples include Instagram, SoundCloud, Vimeo and YouTube. Triggers for these channels allow you to monitor if you Upload, Like, Favorite, Tag or Comment on a media item within these sites. And some of these media channels have actions that enable you to upload media files directly to your social media accounts.
The news category includes traditional channels such as the New York Times and ESPN, online news sources, such as BuzzFeed and Reddit, and an IFTTT channel that provides updates on new recipes and channels. News channels are typically used in recipes to trigger actions when a specific type of content is published. For example, when a popular article on technology is published in the New York Times, added it to My Pocket que.
When a BuzzFeed article with a specific badge appears, share it on Tumbler. Email me any new posts to the specified Reddit category, or subreddit. Notification involves the automated delivery of messages, usually pushed to a device that will then beep, or alert the user in some way. Using the IFTTT Boxcar, Pushover, and Google Glass channels, you can send automated messages that appear on your mobile phone or Google Glass. The actions available in the notification channels work well with triggers associated with real time channels, such as Weather and Stocks.
How do you keep up with everything you want to save online? Browsers have bookmark and favorite features that allow you to save the addresses of the web pages that you want to revisit. But many users use an external application to manage their bookmarks and sync them across a variety of devices. Delicious, Pin Board, Zootool, and Evernote are examples of bookmarking applications that are supported by IFTTT. The channels associated with these applications allow you to create triggers based on adding new links.
Or you can create actions that add links to these applications from other IFTTT channels. Although I've added Evernote to this category, it's a very versatile tool that could arguably be put in a category of its own. What do Calendar, Contacts, and To-Do Lists have in common? Each is used to maintain information that's highly personal and specific to you as an individual. Content is frequently updated, and added in these applications. And there's often a need for the same information to exist in multiple places such as your phone, computer, and online accounts.
IFTTT provides channels for Google Calendar, IOS Contacts, and IOS Reminders. As well as other tools for managing personal information. You'll find a lot of IFTTT recipes with triggers based on adding a contact, photo or event. Or monitoring when an event, or an event matching a certain search criteria starts. Other recipes automatically add other Google calendar events based on triggers from other channels. The physical category includes triggers that monitor the state of devices, and or actions that change the state of those devices.
There's a wide range of devices supported, for example, the Phillips Hue controls lighting in a house or room. There are four channels for the WeMo series of devices made by Belkin. These monitor and control lights, appliances, motion sensors, and energy usage. And the UP, by Jawbone, is a wearable wristband that tracks sleep, exercise, and other fitness related activity. We live in a world with an enormous amount of content being published daily on a seemingly endless variety of online channels.
So, it can be overwhelming trying to read and watch all of the interesting, and relevant content that we encounter. The category that I call read-later includes simple tools for storing just about any type of web content in an online profile. IFTTT supports Instapaper, Pocket, and Readability. Many recipes use actions in read later channels that are triggered when the user favorites a tweet, a video, or an article. What do weather forecasts, package tracking, stock market, and surf reports all have in common? They all involve information that changes frequently.
People are thus often interested in getting real time updates. IFTTT supports several real time channels, including date and time, package tracking, stocks, Surfline for surf reports, and weather. The social web makes it easy for anyone to share information. Unlike the other categories, this one includes three very different types of channels. They all however, relate in some way to sharing. Bitly will take a long URL or web address, and make it shorter, and that's easier to share on social networks.
Buffer is used to queue up several articles, and automatically share them across social networks based on a schedule. Storify is used to combine tweets, YouTube video, Facebook updates, and blog posts into a curated collection of themed information. Channels in the shopping and commerce category, enable you to create triggers based on the items that you sell, buy, want to buy, or have searched for. For example, you can use IFTTT to monitor a Craigslist search, and notify you when a new matching item is listed.
You can use triggers based on items that you want, purchase, or favorite in Etsy. And you can monitor the sales of your creative work in Gumroad. The social category is one of the most popular in IFTTT. It includes Facebook, Facebook groups, Facebook pages, LinkedIn, and Twitter. There's a wide variety of triggers and actions that you can use to monitor, update, and synchronize the data on you social networks. Now that we've defined categories for IFTTT channels, let's see how we can use those categories to adapt recipes, and adapt to changes in IFTTT.
- Customizing a shared recipe
- Creating your own simple recipe
- Putting IFTTT to practical use
- Automating publishing, posting, and sharing
- Managing contacts and calendars
- Working with sensors and devices