For a little while now I have been using the online todo list Remember The Milk to keep track of the numerous disparate tasks and projects I’ve got going on at any one time.

Using lists, tags and smart searches I’ve managed to not only never lose track of a task. I estimate this has made me about a billion times more efficient, and has reduced stress levels a thousand fold.

Additionally, I use the new and increasingly indispensable ifttt beta to automate a bunch of tasks around the internet; e.g. to grab a copy of Facebook pictures I get tagged in, send me an SMS when the there’s a problem on my girlfriend’s route to work, etc.

Every so often something happens on the internet and, rather than undertaking a specific action, you want to be prompted to undertake some appropriate action. Wouldn’t it be sweet if when these things happened you could have a virtual PA drop a note on your daily todo list?

Twitter to the rescue!

Sadly, Ifttt doesn’t have a Remember the milk channel (yet) but, like many web apps, Remember the milk has a twitter bot. If you add this bot as a friend and associate your RTM account with your twitter account you are able to add things to your task list by sending the bot a direct message.

Ifttt has a twitter task, so all you need to do to add something to your task list when an action is triggered is begin the twitter message with “d rtm”, e.g.

d rtm Write about Latakoo’s latest blog ^today #work

You can use RTM markup in your message to control what list it goes to, set due dates etc.

My standard use case is to prompt me to write a blog post in response to a client updating their blog, or to tell me cover my car’s windscreen when it’s forecast to snow the next day. I’m sure there’s much more you can do with it!

One thought on “Life hack: Connecting @ifttt to @rememberthemilk

  1. As I’ve blogged before, (short for “If This Then That”) is a popular service which lets you trigger actions based on certain events that occur around the internet.
    One of the most requested features, by programmers at least, is to add WebHooks support. Webhooks are a very simple way of pinging API information about the internet between web services. It uses JSON to send an arbitrary payload over HTTP via a POST request to a specified endpoint. This is about as simple as you can get, which is of course the beauty of it.
    Support for Webhooks is an obvious extension to IFTTT, and would allow people to build on the service, connecting together more than just the hand picked menu of channels on the IFTTT dashboard. Quite why this is so slow coming is a mystery; some have speculated that it was a business decision on their part, others that it is hard to build a slick interface for something of such a highly technical nature, others that they simply haven’t gotten around to it just yet.
    Free Software to the Rescue!
    Until IFTTT implement a WebHooks channel, you can use the following workaround.
    Abhay Rana, in a project over on GitHub, has built a some code which provides a WebHooks bridge for IFTTT and other services. I have extend to add some extra functionality you might find useful.
    Currently, the IFTTT wordpress channel uses that software’s RPC endpoint to make posts, so the software works by providing a little bit of middleware, that you install on an internet facing machine, which pretends to be an installation of WordPress. You then point the wordpress IFTTT channel at this installation, passing it some special parameters.
    You specify the final endpoint URL as a tag, and by default the contents of the post, title, and categories get JSON encoded and relayed to this endpoint.
    My extensions
    Different Webhook endpoints need different fields, however, so my extension lets you provide service specific plugins. These plugins can manipulate the data sent to the upstream endpoint further, providing different fields and encoding options. This lets you support multiple webhook endpoints from a single installation, and without having to set up multiple IFTTT accounts.
    To use, create the appropriate plugin in your installation’s plugins directory containing your extension of the Plugin class, then pass a special category “plugin:NameOfClass“.
    I have included an example class and a JSON payload class. The latter assumes that the post body is valid JSON, validates it, and then sends it to the upstream endpoint. This lets you send specially crafted messages to upstream webhook endpoints.
    My extension also includes much more debug logging, as well as some extra validation code and graceful failures.
    IFTTT is a fantastically useful service, but unfortunately you are limited to using the services they choose to (or have time to) write connectors for. I find this limiting, and at times frustrating, since as well as excluding some great existing services, it places limits on my ability to hack my own stuff together!
    Previously, I’d often used twitter to glue things together. However, since Twitter are currently making concerted efforts to turn their service into just another ad serving platform, rather than the communication platform and messaging service it was growing into, it was necessary to come up with an alternative method.
    WebHooks seem a better solution anyway.
    Thanks again to Abhay Rana for the original code, and I hope people find my additions useful!
    » Visit the project on Github…
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