What is IFTTT? Build Codeless Workflows Across Cloud Services

What is IFTTT? Find out how this no-code automation service connects multiple products and services to streamline workflows within enterprise organizations.

Richard Hay, Senior Content Producer

August 27, 2021

7 Min Read
IFTTT graphic header

Automating workflow processes is a way to ensure repetitive tasks get done in a consistent and timely way. There are now several end-user tools that break automation out of the developer to-do list and let workers offload their tedious tasks. Services like Zapier, IFTTT, and Power Automate provide building blocks that require little to no coding to automate repetitive process. Ultimately, this saves time and improves the flow of information across teams so they can be more responsive to customer inquiries.

The second part of this series on no-code automation services will answer the question “What is IFTTT?

What is IFTTT? Master Its Terminology

The IFTTT service can be accessed by a modern browser or an app on both Android and iOS. For reference purposes, IFTTT stands for “If This Than That,” which originated as a programming statement/argument.

Like other no-code automation tools, IFTTT exists so that users can connect assorted cloud-based services to automate structured and repetitive data-management tasks.

IFTTT routines are launched by specific triggers – say, a new data entry in an account like a customer database – that then follow an established set of steps. For example, IFTTT can monitor social media for the mention of a company product in tweets and then pull that data into a spreadsheet for future reference. This saves an end user the laborious work on searching social media to find these entries and then manually copying that data into a spreadsheet.

As workflows are built using IFTTT, it is important to understand the terminology that is used by the service.

Applets: These are the collections of triggers and actions that are built into a sequence by users. These are connected to various services to perform actions that the services themselves cannot accomplish on their own. For instance, the social media monitoring action noted above or saving attachments that are received by email to cloud file storage.

Services: Services are the various products, services, and devices that IFTTT can connect to and trigger through their Applets. Some examples include Twitter, Dropbox, Smart Home devices, blogging tools, and bookmarking sites such as Delicious, Instapaper, or Pocket. IFTTT has more than 650 services available to users.

Triggers: These changes in data or app-based events begin the action steps in an Applet. For example: A customer service rep answers a call on an Android device; the call is then logged to a Google sheet that tracks all customer calls. The IFTTT Trigger in this case is answering the call, because that data is logged and prompts the action (sharing that data to a spreadsheet)

Multi-Step Applets: Additional queries for information, conditional logic, and multiple actions can be included in a multi-step Applet to refine how that Applet functions. For example, these additional filtering tools allow a user to designate a certain time of day that an Applet should run when triggered or it can send the results of any Trigger to multiple services such as a tweet with specific words in it to Google Sheets and Microsoft Excel.

API: Application Programming interface is a software interface that allows services to talk to each other and share data without user intervention.

Polling Cycle: This is how often IFTTT Applets are checked to determine if a Trigger has occurred to then complete the other steps of the Applet. On IFTTT, the business plans poll approximately every five minutes while individual account tier-associated applets have a 15-minute polling cycle.

Connections: While Applets contain one Trigger that prompts actions on another service, Connections on IFTTT allow a user to set up multiple queries, triggers, and actions and link those to a single sign-on. IFTTT positions connections as a way to streamline workflows that encompass multiple triggers and actions.

There is a library of documentation for all aspects of IFTTT available for those company’s creating services for the platform or users implementing Applets for their individual or organizational use. There may be no need to reinvent the wheel to build out Applets for an organization, since there is a library of Applets, many of them created by vendors for their end users.

What is IFTTT: How Services Connect

When a service is used in an IFTTT Applet, they typically fall into two categories when making a connection:

Non-Authenticated: These services do not require an account or password before they’re integrated into an Applet’s workflow. For example, there’s an IFTTT Applet that emails a user every time the International Space Station flies overhead. Nobody needs to log into the ISS to trigger that.

Authenticated: These services require a user to provide their account credentials for the service they are attempting to connect with in their IFTTT Applet. Some examples for this type of connection include social media accounts, cloud storage systems, and calendars such as those on Google or Outlook.

Once a connection has been made to an authenticated service on IFTTT, that connection is retained in an account and can be used in other Applets created by the same user/team. No additional authentication is necessary for those subsequent uses of that authenticated service.

How to Create a Workflow: Pre-Formatted and Homemade

Rather than provide templates for various services, IFTTT allows users to publicly share the Applets they have created with the IFTTT community. Other IFTTT users can connect their own services to that Applet if it meets their needs. Otherwise, these shared Applets can be customized further by the user, or a new Applet can be built from scratch to automate a workflow process.

The IFTTT Explore Feed allows users to search for Applets created by other users based on a specific service or scenario

How to Sign Up for IFTTT

Users can utilize their existing Apple, Google, or Facebook accounts to sign into the IFTTT service – or they can use any other email address they have available.

What It Costs to Use IFTTT

The no-code automation service started off as a very consumer-focused service with individual subscription options, but in recent years it has expanded to offer business-facing plans. These prices are current as of August 2021.

Standard (Free): Users can create three Applets for personal use or turn on unlimited applets they discover on the service which have been created by other users or services.

Pro: What is IFTTT Pro? Users can create unlimited Applets and can include multi-step Applets with queries, conditional logic, and multiple actions. This plan includes a faster polling cycle overall, the ability to have real-time Applets, and customer support. The cost of this tier is $3.33 per month. There is no annual pricing plan.

Developer: This plan is for companies that offer a service that can be accessed through API calls. It provides the tools and services to potentially provide service access to the entire IFTTT community and subscribers. A single service can be built for IFTTT that enables triggers, actions, and queries for end users to configure in their IFTTT Applets. It includes an API performance and health dashboard plus email support. This service costs $199 per year/per service offered to IFTTT users.

Team: This plan includes everything offered in the Developer tier plus an option to embed integrations anywhere with IFTTT Connect; a monthly price per connected user; standard analytics and user insights; and prioritized support. There is no pricing posted for this plan as inquiries around that must be made directly with IFTTT. They do describe this plan as one where a company can pay as they grow.

Enterprise: This plan includes everything already mentioned in the Team plan plus unlimited services for any products on the IFTTT service; premium analytics and business insights; and enterprise level SLAs with dedicated account management for subscribers. This plan requires custom pricing that must be discussed directly with IFTTT.

Downgrades from Pro to Standard can be done at any time in the billing cycle online, but business plan changes (Developer, Team, and Enterprise) must be coordinated directly with IFTTT customer support.

About the Author(s)

Richard Hay

Senior Content Producer, IT Pro Today (Informa Tech)

I served for 29 plus years in the U.S. Navy and retired as a Master Chief Petty Officer in November 2011. My work background in the Navy was telecommunications related so my hobby of computers fit well with what I did for the Navy. I consider myself a tech geek and enjoy most things in that arena.

My first website – AnotherWin95.com – came online in 1995. Back then I used GeoCities Web Hosting for it and WindowsObserver.com is the result of the work I have done on that site since 1995.

In January 2010 my community contributions were recognized by Microsoft when I received my first Most Valuable Professional (MVP) Award for the Windows Operating System. Since then I have been renewed as a Microsoft MVP each subsequent year since that initial award. I am also a member of the inaugural group of Windows Insider MVPs which began in 2016.

I previously hosted the Observed Tech PODCAST for 10 years and 317 episodes and now host a new podcast called Faith, Tech, and Space. 

I began contributing to Penton Technology websites in January 2015 and in April 2017 I was hired as the Senior Content Producer for Penton Technology which is now Informa Tech. In that role, I contribute to ITPro Today and cover operating systems, enterprise technology, and productivity.


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