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Mashing Up Multiple Web Services 59

Posted by Soulskill
from the one-size-bits-fits-all dept.
GMGruman writes "Ted Samson reports on a new Web application dubbed ifttt.com that mashes up all those Web services we routinely use. Today's Web is brimming with a staggering number of services where users can speak their mind (Twitter), grab vital information (any news or blog source), store important files (Dropbox or Box.net), collaborate with peers (Facebook or Google+), and much more. The dream has long been to devise ways to get these often disparate and siloed services to interact with one another, creating something greater than the sum of its parts. It serves as a measure of how far we've come from the early days of specialized, single-purpose mashups, or more complicated SOAs where services were cobbled together with complex tools and the coding equivalent of duct tape."
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Mashing Up Multiple Web Services

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  • by suso (153703) * on Saturday September 17, 2011 @03:22PM (#37430224) Homepage Journal

    Neat idea and I like the interface, but obviously they need conditionals. You can't just say Every tweet I make also call this number, you should be able to do something like every time I post about X then call this phone number and say Y that includes this part of X. If this catches on, Google will be kicking themselves that they don't have an API for G+ with write access yet.

    • by derGoldstein (1494129) on Saturday September 17, 2011 @06:24PM (#37431102) Homepage
      For this to be useful, you're gonna need counters, nested conditions, decision trees, etc.. Most people will only use part of them, or even just the one "if/then" functionality, but there's an opportunity to cater to "power users" by offering a more robust system.

      That said, I think this thing is proof of how neurotic all of these "social services" have become. If we're setting up triggering mechanisms to make the multiple services work together, something's gone wrong with either the way we live, or how much bureaucracy we're willing to put up with. Are we really heading in a direction where we have to *program* how we communicate with friends? Isn't that what these services are supposed to *solve*?
      • by c0lo (1497653)

        Are we really heading in a direction where we have to *program* how we communicate with friends? Isn't that what these services are supposed to *solve*?

        No, we are heading in a direction where no only FB, G+ and others will know more or less complete "fragments" of our identities, but there will be an entity (ifttt.com) that will know about all of them in the same time.

      • Yes. Unfortunately, capitalism (gives people a reason to try and build a better version, not that the lack of money wouldn't.) Hopefully, more capitalism (will cause someone to build a system that fixes all of these problems.)

        Everyone's still stuck on the Parable Of OS/2, and so no one wants to be fully interoperable, unless it means importing users and locking them in forever.
      • by slim (1652)

        The social messaging services are not all that this is for. For example, one of the recipes is for it to send you an SMS if weather.com says it'll rain in your town tomorrow. Another copies content into your Dropbox if you start it in Google Reader.

        These are neat ways to streamline the way you consume these services. Too simple to really be called programming, but useful nonetheless.

        • by tehcyder (746570)

          For example, one of the recipes is for it to send you an SMS if weather.com says it'll rain in your town tomorrow

          Wow, truly the internet's killer app has arrived.

          • by slim (1652)

            Be fair. If Slashdot waited for earth shattering news before posting, as you seem to expect, we'd go months at a time without a post.

            It's a neat tool for those who want it.
            Nobody *needs* it, but some people may find it useful. I do.

    • by slim (1652)

      There are conditionals built into some of the triggers. For example, it can look for tweets containing a string.

      I'm already finding it useful. I wanted a Facebook page and a Twitter feed to update every time a blog gets updated. Using ittt gives me more control than Facebook built in feed -> note mechanism, and polls more frequently.

      I could roll my own of course, but why bother when this is here and it works. I thought about the security aspects and decided it was OK given my use case.

  • by RightSaidFred99 (874576) on Saturday September 17, 2011 @03:32PM (#37430274)

    It's confusing. I assumed it was a web service that somehow aggregated the interfaces of all these other web services. My immediate response was "Well, that's pointless. Why wouldn't I do that in my own code - that's what a web service is for.".

    Only to go on and read that it's not a web service.

    • It's a service which is offered over the web. Isn't that the very definition of a web service?
      However, what this is not is a mashup. It doesn't recombine content, but offers functionality across services.

      • Because "web service" is a separate term of art. It's like a news article saying a "fully automatic rifle" was used in a shooting, when it was a semi-automatic rifle. Reporter could say "Well, you pull the trigger 3 times and 3 bullets come out, that's fully automatic!". No, it isn't.
      • by luis_a_espinal (1810296) on Saturday September 17, 2011 @03:47PM (#37430372) Homepage

        It's a service which is offered over the web. Isn't that the very definition of a web service? However, what this is not is a mashup. It doesn't recombine content, but offers functionality across services.

        No. There are several (not necessarily equivalent) definitions of what a web service is, but they have, at their core, define a web service as a function or functionality that one can invoke programmatically (and that was designed with this in mind) over an IP-based protocol in general, and over HTTP in particular, either way exploiting, relying and/or being affected by the characteristics, positive and negative, of the so-called Internet architecture.

        What it is being reported here is a web-based application (not a web service) that aggregates information from other web-based applications using web services provided by the later. So RightSaidFred99 is pretty much correct in voicing his objection for calling a web application a web service.

        One can understand a non-tech reporter making such a confusion. But, in a supposedly tech-savvy site such as slashdot, I can only think what the fuck? We are not in the eras that preceded the widespread adoption of Internet technology, and it's not like web services are something new either.

        • No. There are several (not necessarily equivalent) definitions of what a web service is, but they have, at their core, define a web service as a function or functionality that one can invoke programmatically (and that was designed with this in mind) over an IP-based protocol in general, and over HTTP in particular, either way exploiting, relying and/or being affected by the characteristics, positive and negative, of the so-called Internet architecture.

          Well, AFAICT all those things this site accesses fulfill

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Web service does have a very different definition in software engineering, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_service
        It is not just a website...

  • Um. Hooray? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Saturday September 17, 2011 @03:36PM (#37430314) Journal
    So, if I understand this correctly, I get the exciting chance to hand login credentials to a variety those accounts I deem important to some nascent .bomb outfit, whose TOS specifically says that it can change at any time, my responsibility to check(is there a trigger for that, by any chance?), and which currently doesn't make any mention of limitations on what they can do with those credentials(never mind what their eventual aquirerer might do...); but which is quite clear on just how hard I indemnify and hold them harmless pretty much no matter what?

    Sounds Awesome!
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Haven't looked through all the channels, but at least the services that support it (Facebook, Google stuff) are using OAuth so you can authorize a third party to perform actions or get data from your account in a way that can be revoked at any time without giving them your credentials.

    • So, if I understand this correctly, I get the exciting chance to hand login credentials to a variety those accounts I deem important to some nascent .bomb outfit, whose TOS specifically says that it can change at any time, my responsibility to check(is there a trigger for that, by any chance?), and which currently doesn't make any mention of limitations on what they can do with those credentials(never mind what their eventual aquirerer might do...); but which is quite clear on just how hard I indemnify and hold them harmless pretty much no matter what?

      Sounds Awesome!

      It's still too limited. It doesn't support your bank account yet. Just having unfortunate automatic twitters in your name is not sufficient. Automatic money movement is much more interesting. Especially when combined with the possibility to select from existing rules ... this could result in some very interesting money flows. :-)

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      yes, it would be best as a traditional application, where everyone would just run it on their own servers.

      no need for apis then. just hack it to work through the web interface - all else failing by mimicking human actions, no need for write api's, theyre not going to place captchas on everything, nobody would use those services(blogger is killing itself with that already).

    • HTC's "Friend Stream" will already post to Facebook and Twitter simultaneously. Other apps will post to more social networks simultaneously. The contact list in the phone already shows you everybody's latest Tweet, Facebook post, and QIK video status, among other things.

      What exactly are these people doing that is so special?

      • This is not a "mashup" program. It's much different.

        Ifttt stands for "If This Then That", and basically allows users to easily build their own cross-site scripting.

        It's a pretty simple setup, but does require some creativity. There are hundreds of triggers and hundreds of actions - most of which are very highly customizable.

        For example, I have a trigger set up so when my wife stars an RSS article in Google Reader I'll get a SMS message, with custom formatted text.

        While it's not particularly complex to build

  • by proverbialcow (177020) on Saturday September 17, 2011 @03:38PM (#37430328) Journal
    If we could aggregate these services into a single site, that site could become a web 'portal' where you could accomplish some of your most routine web tasks. If you could get a service provider to create their own 'portal' that comes free with their internet access, that would be even better. Of course, you'd want to distribute sample copies to as many people as possible - preferably by sending them CDs several times a week. Maybe then you could truly get all of America online.
    • Somebody didn't read the article... This is basically an easy interface to making "cron job-like" things involving popular websites, like "call me every time somebody favorites one of my Twitter posts" or "when someone tags me in a photo, upload the photo to my Dropbox" and so on. This isn't a "portal" any more than a bash script is.

      • So you're saying that I've actually hit upon a 20+year-old idea that offers more functionality than a web service that counts as 'news'?
  • by OzPeter (195038) on Saturday September 17, 2011 @03:44PM (#37430354)
    so it makes it easier to get rid of them all at once?

    Who is this "we" that the TFS mentions?? .. now git off my lawn.
    • by drb226 (1938360)

      Who is this "we" that the TFS mentions?? .. now git off my lawn.

      We == all teh hipstas?

  • I tried Hootsuite for awhile, which promised similar management of multiple web services. It felt like a house of mirrors. I'm already getting my slashdot headlines on Facebook. Ultimately, it looks like the "portals" will pass like fashion and musical tastes, and maybe all will wind up with MySpace playing guest parts on Love Boat.
  • by geekmux (1040042) on Saturday September 17, 2011 @04:05PM (#37430440)

    "Ted Samson reports on a new Web application..."

    Ah, "new"? Where the hell has he been the last 5 years? Under a rock?

    Facebook "Like" buttons popping up everywhere, Google map links embedded into every web interface and email program, practically Internet-wide single-sign-on capability with far too many websites acting as proxy authenticators to all of the major accounts (Google, Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, etc.)

    Tweetdeck, Trillion, Adium...the list goes on and on. There's nothing "new" about yet another program to "mash-up" the 17 accounts that everyone seems to have in yet another effort to create a single visual aggregator of endless streams of crap that you probably would have never had a reason to know your 4,471th "friend" said or did in the first place, yet somehow feel the undying pressure to get plugged in and monitor such nonsense with an almost childish infatuation to refresh it all every 14 seconds.

  • Twitter's capabilities (follow, retweet, etc) have all been copied and become a subset of the features available on just about any collaboration suite (Facebook, google+). I've even seen it hacked into microsoft sharepoint. Why is the ability to publish a small message constantly defined as being separate from the standard features of most social sites? Just because they were first doesn't mean that we need to keep mentioning them. It's like being unable to not mention ford whenever an assembly line is brou
  • For starters, they're calling it a "mash up" which is an instant reason to reach for the puke bucket. What's wrong with going to each "service" as and when you need them? Why trust some ".bomb" with all these services? You're just asking for trouble.

  • by LibRT (1966204)
    Didn't RTFA - is this WUPHF, finally realized?!? Man, I've been waiting forever for WUPHF!
  • I have been using Tarpipe.com, a really nice service to publish to multiple social media services, with conditional rules, etc. Just needs some additional work on the interface to make it user-friendly for the less tech savvy.
  • So I can upload a video to my facetube whenever I tweet my iBlog?

    What problem is this trying to solve, again?

  • This site [ifttt.com] is not a mashup but an automation tool for the non-programmer folks on the web. To an extent I always knew that most web 2.0 users could be easily automated using simple scripts but I didn't suspect it was that easy.
  • I know I'm way behind on this, just now discovered IFTTT, but I have to say it's an awesome idea. I love the ability to automatically link up some of these web apps without requiring code. Could I code those linkages? Sure, but that makes me spend time, and host that code, and maintain it...with IFTTT all that work is abstracted away. This is just like the adapter integration model...build one adapter for each of your end applications, then hook up the adapters. Swap out an end application, and as long as y

  • more like a rules engine for the web, where you can do actions based on certain conditionals with the input/output being webservices on the net. I got invited to the beta and I quite liked the concept.

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