Question

How do you keep track of automations and integrations?

I try to use a lot of tools from Zapier to Hazel, but I easily forget what I've done and over time the benefits of such automation start to fade. I'd be interested in learning how other users deal with this, and whether there are ways to, well, automate the managing of automation.

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#Zapier #Automation
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YaserAhmady's avatar
almost 2 years ago

I don't but now that you mention it I should start doing it. I can't count how many interesting Apple Shortcuts, Alfred Shortcuts and so on I downloaded only to forget about them and never use them.

I have some ideas you could use as a starting point but the thing is: every automation app has a specific way of doing things, with different metadata. I think it's kinda hard to keep documenting such things because you'd really need some sort of data access/abstraction layer to glue all this info together.

Some automations can be represented as simple statements just like IFTTT but let's say you have a "Morning Routine" Apple Shortcut, you'd need to also document what it does.

I'd try documenting specific workflows maybe. This looks like a great use case for graphs. With Whimsical you could easily graph a workflow spanning multiple apps and services. Maybe even Roam?

If I imagine documenting my various automations, these are some quick ideas of ways to do that:

  • TextExpander — A CSV with Abbreviation; Expansion; Category.
  • Apple Shortcuts — A CSV with Title; Trigger; Accepted Inputs; SCPL/Text-based representation of the Shortcut. There have been some programming languages made to represent Apple Shortcuts that can seamlessly be converted back and forth.
  • IFTTT — A CSV with IF THIS; THEN THAT.

I'm gonna think about it tho! Some Python scripts could really help with this. I'll check back with you if I come up with something.

6 points
maguay's avatar
almost 2 years ago

You know, this is actually something I need as well—looking forward to any other ideas people have to share! I know I did have a few Hazel, BetterTouchTool, and Alfred workflows that I forgot about, then when I moved to a new Mac discovered they were gone after a few days and had to recreate them. Automations end up becoming something you rely on and forget aren't built-in so easily.

In Zapier, I do organize automations into folders, and try to name Zaps with descriptive enough names that I can rediscover them when needed, but you're right, it is a struggle!

4 points
Christopher_87's avatar
@Christopher_87 (replying to @maguay )
almost 2 years ago

I guess I am a bit too crazy here, and I have an airtable that lists then all. When we help clients and do our monthly automation subscription that first month we build it out for them. Then use that for errors, updates etc.

Build it once and it helps a lot! But does require updating

3 points
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @Christopher_87 )
almost 2 years ago

That's actually a good idea—worth doing to not have to track stuff down later. So easy to forget (say) which email workflows we've setup in Customer.io or Zapier.

You know I just thought, you could actually automate this with the "Zapier Manage" tool, since it has a New Zap trigger. That'd only log the Zaps and you'd have to add detail yourself, but that might work.

1 point
Christopher_87's avatar
@Christopher_87 (replying to @maguay )
almost 2 years ago

That’s exactly what we do. But we just add a few more details. Like Flag errors and if changes are made or zaps turned off. Then Using a view in airtable we use it like a ticketing system to solve issues for our clients

3 points
HtyStudio's avatar
almost 2 years ago

As mentioned, to stay organized with automation apps in the cloud...
1. Create a folder system within each app, say Zapier or Integromat
2. Global documentation of all automations and their steps within a spreadsheet (Airtable, etc)

But to connect steps 1 and 2...

Perhaps every Zap you make has a Custom Digest at the end with Title and Entry for each step of the automation and that Digest data is sent to Airtable:
https://zapier.com/blog/custom-digest-app/

In Integromat you could utilize their Data Store feature to keep track of steps in each Scenario, then create a separate Scenario which syncs all data in the global Data Store to Airtable:
https://www.integromat.com/en/feature/data-stores

4 points
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @HtyStudio )
almost 2 years ago

Ohh that'd be a pretty detailed way to close the loop and automatically document everything; great idea!

1 point
appintegrators's avatar
@appintegrators (via Twitter)
almost 2 years ago

Airtable base: “Zaps”

1 point
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