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Zapier – Automate your tasks

ByDiego Pinho in

Every good developer cultivates a “healthy habit”: the one of being lazy. Developers don’t like wasting time with manual and bureaucratic tasks, such as writing an API documentation, a release note, etc. What do they do? They find a way to automate the process and create everything automatically.

When we’re working on a development project, we often find ourselves forced to use many different tools, each with a different purpose, pros and cons. I, for example, deal with a lot of tools daily: Trello (tasks managing), Jira (project management), Confluence (wiki), Google Calendar (agenda), and so on.

A lot of these tools communicate “indirectly” with each other. That is, manually I associate the information for them to remain consistent on the general context of the project. A good example is the issue management. For each created issue on Jira, I have to create a card on Trello, so that my team is able to work with it inside the sprint. Or else, associate an event of my agenda with an issue of my project.

All this manual work tend to be boring, laborious – and primarily – takes a lot of time that could be used with codification and resolution of problems. To help on solving this hindrance, the Zapier tool was created.

Zapier is a web service that allows applications integration. It works in a very simple way: you configure a “Zap” that associates a trigger to an action. The trigger and the action can belong to the same application or to different applications.

Triggers and Actions

To understand how to tool works, we’re going to create a “Zap” with the following tools: ToDoist (tasks list manager) and the Google Calendar (agenda). Whenever I create an event on my calendar, I want it to automatically create a task on my ToDoist, as for example: “Dinner at Joana’s – Thu 10/22 at 8PM”.

It’s required to create a Zapier account. There are five different types of plan. We’re going to create a Free account.

Zapier plans

Once you’ve created your account, you’ll be redirected to your Dashboard. From there, we’ll go to “Make a New Zap”.

Dashboard

On this screen, we’ll chose which application and it’s correspondent action will trigger an action in other (not necessarily) application. In our example, we want that every time that I create an event on my agenda, it creates a task on my task manager. It’ll be like this:

Selecting Triggers and Actions

For each service that you want to automate with Zapier, you’ll have to authorize the access to your account, otherwise it won’t be possible to integrate the services. With that being done, it’s time to configure.

Obviously that for each different service there will be different configurations. In our case, we have to:

  • Select the agenda
  • Add filters (optional): in case you don’t add any filter on your events, they’ll result in tasks on the task manager
  • Configure: title, description, date and priority

It’s worth mentioning that we can use automatic fields on the configuration, that is, it’s possible to recover data from the trigger application to the action application. For us, the title, description and date will be data that we’ll recover on the Google Calendar’s event.

It’s worth reinforcing that, to each different service we’ll have configuration fields and different automatic fields.

Zap configuration

Now that we have configured our “Zap”, Zapier will give us the opportunity to test it. Just click the button “Test Google Calendar triggers” and follow the steps below:

  • Log on Google Calendar
  • Create an event
  • Activate manual search

Done!

Testing Zap

If everything goes right, Zapier will create a task on ToDoist with the event data that we’ve inserted on Google Calendar.

Event and task created

Done! You have automated your first task! Cool, right? Now, the imagination is the limit. Play with the applications and possibilities, and automate your tasks to increase your creativity! Zapier supports a huge variety of consecrated tools, such as: GitHub, BitBucket, Jenkins, Dropbox, Evernote, WordPress, and others.

Hail to the laziness!

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