How to create a blogger’s newsroom with IFTTT and WordPress

I’ve been searching for an easy way to move stories I want to blog about from my RSS reader to WordPress for a long time. Thanks to recent changes in IFTTT’s WordPress actions, I can now do exactly that with a single keystroke. I’m elated about this, as it’s going to save me a lot of time. If you write about news, re-blog or comment on interesting stories of the day, you’ll like this, too. Here’s how to create a blogger’s “newsroom” with IFTTT and WordPress.

The setup

Before you begin, you’ll need the following pre-requisites:

  1. A WordPress blog
  2. An IFTTT account
  3. Google Reader for RSS

That’s it. Note that you aren’t required to use Google Reader in a browser. In this tutorial, I’m using Reeder for Mac. All you need is an application capable of starring Google Reader items. Here’s how to set it up.

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Create a blog backup with IFTTT and Dropbox

My colleague TJ Luoma inspried this post in the TUAW offices earlier this week. I thought I’d share a version of his idea with all of you.

Anyone who’s lost blog posts knows that particular pain. Database backups are important and shouldn’t be overlooked. But simpler plans can also be very helpful when worse comes to worst. Here’s a simple IFTTT recipe to create a plain text backup of every new post in Dropbox. It’s bare-bones for sure but still useful and could save you a lot of hassle.

The idea is to have IFTTT monitor your blog for  new posts. When it finds one, it makes a plain text copy in a Dropbox folder of your choosing, including the path to any images. Let’s set it up.

Set up

Before you begin, log into IFTTT and enable the Feed channel and Dropbox channel. Also, make a destination folder in your Dropbox account. Once that’s done, follow these steps:

  1. Create A Recipe.
  2. The “If this then that” prompt appears. Click “This.”
  3. A grid of trigger channel appears. This is the condition that must exist to prompt the next step. Click Feed.
  4. Two options appear. Click New Feed Item. This will cause the next step to fire every time you publish a new post.
  5. Paste your blog’s RSS address into the field. Click Create Trigger.
  6.  The “If this then that” prompt reappears with our feed action in place of “this.” Click “that.”
  7. The Action menu appears. Click Dropbox.
  8. Click Append to a Text File. This will add the new post to a single file. Once that file reaches 2 MB, a new one will be created.
  9. Enter the path to your destination folder and the name of the plain text document in there (a new one will be created if you leave that field blank).
  10. Click Create Action. Give your recipe a name and click Create Recipe.

Why Plain Text?

That’s it! Now, whenever you create a new blog post, it will be saved as a plain text file in your Dropbox account. Why plain text? David Sparks answers that question more eloquently than I could:

“There’s something to be said for the use of plain text files. Text is simple. Text files are easy to read on any computer running any operating system and don’t require any proprietary word processor to interpret. Even more important, text files can be read by humans. Keeping your writings in text makes them digitally immortal.

Moreover, text is internet friendly. The files are small and can jump among connected devices with poor connections like hopped up Disney faeries. It is really easy to work with your text files on any device from anywhere.”

If you ever find yourself recovering lost posts, you’ll be glad they’re in a simple format that you can work with from almost any machine. Have fun with this recipe and let me know if/how you use/modify it.

Print from iOS with Dropbox, IFTTT and Automator

My printer, a Kodak 5250, 1 does not support Apple’s AirPrint and likely never will. That’s too bad, because I’d like to print from my iPhone and iPad. Today I worked up a convoluted work-around with some additional benefits. 2 Best of all, it didn’t cost me a dime.

The idea is to create a folder in Dropbox and attach a Folder Action to it that prints new additions. I use email to populate that folder and thereby trigger print jobs. Here’s how to set it up with IFTTT, Dropbox and Apple’s Automator.

Preparation

To get started, you’ll need an IFTTT account and a Dropbox account. Go to IFTTT.com and GetDropbox.com to sign up. Both are free 3. Once you’ve done that, it’s time to get started.

Dropbox and Automator

The first step is to create a destination folder in Dropbox. I made one called “Print.” Next, create a Folder Action with Automator and attach it to that folder. The action will print any document that’s added to the folder (below). Here’s how to create it.

  1. Launch Automator, which can be found in your Applications folder.
  2. Automator asks you to select a template. Click Folder Action and then click Choose.
  3. Click Utilities in the Action Library on the left and then find Print Finder Items in the next column. Drag it into window on the right.
  4. Choose your destination folder (“Print” in my case) from the drop-down at the top of the window.
  5. Select the printer you’d like to use from the Print To drop-down.
  6. Click Save and you’re done.

Easy, right? To test it out, drop a text file into the folder. If you did it correctly, your printer should spring to life and produce the document. 4. Now, on to the next step: getting stuff into that folder easily from an iPhone or iPad.

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  1. So close.
  2. Printopia is a fine solution and I recommend it. Set it up and it works. But where’s the fun in that?
  3. Dropbox offers 2 GB of storage for free. Additional storage is available for a fee.
  4. Bonus feature: Place an alias to that folder on your desktop for easy drag-and-drop printing.

Building a blogging newsroom

The act of browsing RSS and Twitter for news stories I’d like the write about, identifying the good ones and finally getting them written, into the CMS and published is cumbersome. As a nerd, I know that an elegant, automated system is possible, yet I haven’t found it. But not for lack of trying.

Right now, I’m tossing “postable” stories into Trello. As a system, it’s OK. There’s lots of copy-and-paste to do, plus I’ve got to keep Trello.com open in a tab. The resulting list is tidy and well organized, but I’ve still got to move things to WordPress. I can do better.

I’ve been trying to use ifttt with limited success. I’ve got a recipe that will send any item I star in Google Reader to WordPress. That much is awesome. With Reeder for Mac, all I need to do is press a single key — S — and a post is created in WordPress. I love it. But there’s a problem.

Ifttt publishes the WordPress post. I want it to create a draft without publishing. That way, I can star a bunch of posts and have several drafts waiting for me. I tried creating a new user with Contributor privileges, but that caused the ifttt script to fail. I’m still working on it. Tips welcome.