This is Dimagi’s former CTO and current CSO (Chief “Sabbatical” Officer) reporting five months into my sabbatical from Dimagi because I’m so excited about a feature that just launched in CommCare that I felt the need to write about it myself.
As of yesterday you can officially use Zapier to connect CommCare to hundreds of other applications.
This is a feature I have personally been advocating for us to build since way before I started my sabbatical and I’m thrilled that it’s finally out.
Why am I so excited?
Well as Dimagi said on the blog already:
Because with Zapier integration, CommCare just went from a mobile app that can manage data really well to a mobile app that can manage data really well and do anything else. Zapier unlocks the door to almost any workflow you can dream up. When combined with CommCare’s ridiculous flexibility, it’s a match made in integration heaven.
What does this look like?
Well, like any good product dogfooder, I’m not only an advocate for Zapier integration, I’m also a client.
So how have I been able to make use of our Zapier integration during my sabbatical?
Let me explain, though this will require getting into a bit of detail about my life.
Tracking My Life
So when I left Dimagi to start sabbatical life I decided that I wanted to be “productive” with that time – in whatever form productivity took. For me it was a mix of building side-projects, writing, physical activity, and enjoying life.
One thing I worried about was holding myself accountable to being productive when there was no longer any external pressure to make that happen. So I decided to continue one of the habits I picked up at Dimagi throughout the sabbatical: relentless time tracking. I’m using a time tracking app called toggl, which works great.
Another thing I wanted to do was track my physical activity. In particular, I had a goal to be active five or more times a week during the sabbatical, so I wanted to make sure to log each time I went for a run/hike/surf so I could see how well I was doing towards this goal. Yes, I’m a bit OCD.
Because I know and love CommCare, I made a little app to record all of my activities and am using CommCare’s report builder to track the data. It works great.
My activity in July – courtesy of CommCare’s report builder.
The Problem of Redundancy
Everything was going well for me, but one thing kept bugging me. Redundancy.
See my workflow went like this:
- Go for a run
- Log run in CommCare
- Log time spent running in toggl
Like any good coder, this redundancy bothered me to no end. I was already entering this information in one place – why should I have to enter it in another?
Thankfully, Zapier is a redundancy killing machine. From idea to execution it took me less than 15-minutes to set it up so that my activity app automatically synced my CommCare time data to toggl. I even recorded the process as proof. Boom. No more redundancies. Now every time I go for a run I log it in one place (CommCare), and it magically syncs to my time tracking system instantly, and with no effort on my part.
But wait, there’s more!
Of course Zapier isn’t just for eliminating redundant processes – it also opens up the door for totally new workflows that could never have been possible otherwise.
At our last Dimagi tech retreat someone made a CommCare app and connected it to Twitter through Zapier, and all of the sudden CommCare became a shared Twitter account we could all update and follow to share our favorite quotes from the retreat.
As mentioned on the blog, Zapier can be used to connect CommCare to loads of other systems like Google Sheets, SQL Databases, and any of the other 750+ apps supported out-of-the box by Zapier.
So what are you waiting for? Go make an awesome mobile app, reinvent your existing app, or eliminate some redundancies today!
Until March, 2017, Cory was the CTO of Dimagi and lead architect of CommCare HQ.
He’s currently spending most of his time learning to surf, working on a printable place card maker, and writing about his experiences.