Zapier, Duct tape for the Internet!
A remarkable consequence of the Cloud era, of affordable on-demand compute power, is the availability of services that would otherwise be unfeasible commercially or be too frivolous to spend resources on.
The good side of this trend is the availability of services that cater to every common or niche need for internet consumers. Say, you are aspiring novelist with exacting taste in online text editors, worry not, Penguin as of Dec 2017, lists 12 popular online text editors. And if you are more experiemental-ish in your tastes, then the Writing Cooperative has 64 options for you to nitpick with.
Point we are trying to make? Well, there is an almost exact internet service to do what you need. This brings us to another problem, the services we use are all disconnected from one another. Each is an island, self-sufficient to cater to a single set of needs but do not act in tandem with other services you might be consuming. For example, say you ‘heart’ or ‘like’ a tweet on Twitter, perhaps because it has a book or video you wish to watch later, you would have to scroll through your history to find that marked tweet again. A common trick that we at Red Care follow, is to send the tweet in a mail to ourselves. Not hard but imagine doing this for every tweet you wish to bookmark, quickly gets repetitive. And the rule for programmers is to automate what is repeated more than a few times.
Internet Services enable themselves to be integrated with a ecosystem of tools via APIs. Think of APIs as the electrical socket that lets you hook into power, while the socket itself has not knowledge of what electrical device is plugged in. Whether it is a toaster or a electric scooter, the electrical socket is not concerned about. As long as the socket and plug are compatible, either party does not have to be concerned about the other’s details. For example Twitter and Facebook provide APIs for developers to hook into their platforms.
But not all Internet Services provide an API, which puts us in a spot. And enter Zapier, we have the nearest thing to a clean solution for wiring up disparate internet services with minimal effort. Remember the earlier Tweet liked use case, we can automate that in a few clicks with Zapier. And many of these integrations can be done without too much developer level technical knowledge. We have been playing with Zapier for couple of client needs and thought we should share this info with the wider community.