Codeless Automation: IFTTT vs Zapier vs Microsoft Flow

Finding the automation option that is right for you

John Gruber
Oct 10, 2018 · 3 min read

With IFTTT’s total fundraising at over 62 million dollars, the codeless automation workspace has really heated up. With products like IFTTT, Zapier, and Microsoft Flow on the market, automating day-to-day tasks has never been easier. These tools allow you to connect your apps and build automated workflows to be more productive. But these apps each have their own strengths and choosing the right one can be difficult.

In broad strokes IFTTT, Zapier, and Microsoft Flow all perform the same function, to connect apps and automate workflows. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses. Choosing the right app has proven difficult because each app fits a different niche. At first glance, choosing the right app is daunting. The interfaces, approach, and verbiage are different on each app, yet the most important difference is the connections to third-party apps. The connectors in each app drastically change how each app is used and who uses them.


IFTTT

The simplest of the three. Each workflow has one trigger and one action. Beautifully designed, IFTTT is a great starting place with automation. The clean simple structure of the app ranks IFTTT as a top contender. The low learning curve and easy registration make it quick and painless to begin rolling out automated workflows. The simplicity comes with drawbacks, however, as IFTTT only has single action workflows. As long as your workflows don’t require complex calculations IFTTT may be the perfect fit for what you need to do.


Zapier

With multi-step workflows, Zapier has more options than IFTTT. While not quite as simple as IFTTT, Zapier has a fantastic interface and many find the trade-off between simplicity and power worth it. Zapier will allow your workflows to grow more complex than IFTTT, making it a strong competitor. Zapier has the most connections to third-party apps. These connections along with the elegant design make Zapier a strong competitor in this fierce battle.


Microsoft Flow

The most complex of the three, Flow doesn’t stop with multi-step workflows. Microsoft has designed For-Each and Do-While loops directly into the toolset. If-Then-Else conditionals are included too making it the most powerful codeless automation tool on the market. The other unique aspect of Flow is its direct integration to Office 365 and the Microsoft Office product line. This added power makes it more difficult to learn than its competitors IFTTT and Zapier, but the direct integration into your e-mail, OneDrive, and other products you use every day make it worth learning. If your organization is using Office 365, Microsoft Flow will have the most integrations for your work.


So Which Is Right for You?

While each app has huge differences in simplicity and power, the largest variation comes from the connectors. IFTTT integrates nicely with IOT and tech you’ll find around the house. Turning lights on and off or reminders to meditate each day are some of the most common workflows. IFTTT is the perfect choice if you're looking for home and personal automation. Zapier’s most common connectors come from Google’s G Suite. Zapier is the go-to choice for people looking to automate their workday while living in Google’s productivity suite. Microsoft Flow’s direct integration with Office 365 makes it an easy choice for those working in Office 365 all day long. Plus the added complexity of Microsoft Flow is a favorite among the hardcore automaters.


Conclusion

In summary, all three are fantastic and worth looking into. If you’re not sure where to start, go with IFTTT. It’s simple and easy to get started. If you’re interested in automating your work life you may want to look into Zapier and Microsoft Flow. If you have any questions don’t hesitate to reach out below or find me on Twitter @gruberjl or LinkedIn.

Better Programming

Advice for programmers.

John Gruber

Written by

Productivity and technology to make the world a better place. Because we all need a little help and motivation sometimes.

Better Programming

Advice for programmers.

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade