How Zapier made us support a hundred new services in half an hour

Hi, we’re Ducksboard and we’re addicted to APIs. We’re making online real-time dashboards for business metrics. This is a tale of how Zapier made our job a hundred times easier.

As dashboardwrights, we thrive on data, it’s the lifeblood of our service. Each new service we integrate with is like digging out a small rill that connects our pond of metrics with a fresh spring of information. There’s a certain tediousness to digging, even if the process is heavily mechanized.

That’s why when we first heard about Zapier launching their developer platform, we immediately saw it´s potential. It’s a step towards fulfilling the old dream of breaking out of the silos that current SaaS solutions tend to be. It’s a way to free the data and to make it flow, break down the artificial boundaries between bits and pieces of information loosely spread in the cloud.

Basically, it’s like having to strike your shovel once and getting the friggin’ Atlantic Ocean come down on you. We loved it. Just look at the possibilities!

An example zap

Bonus points for misreading “pings” as “pigs”

Now then, great power surely requires great sacrifice and tapping into that vast amount of resources will require utmost skill and dedication. As it turns out, adding your app to Zapier’s platform is dead simple and even a complete nincompoop like yours truly was able to complete this task in under thirty minutes.

If you run a SaaS application, have an API and are not on Zapier, here’s a simple recipe to instantly change your status from “sipping a soda in a corner, waiting for a blind date that probably won’t even come” to “being part of a giant party, chatting people up and swapping jokes all around”.

Ready? Note that you can follow these steps in any order!

  1. Add a Zapier app for your SaaS

Done!

A Ducksboard zap

The process is simple, the documentation is clear and to the point and you get just enough power to make a nice, tight integration, but not enough to bury yourself in details. All the small details you only appreciate when you write an integration yourself are there. Your zap needs an ID, but you’d rather load a list of items and use friendly names instead? Check. Want to provide sample data so people can get test your zap without going all the way through the process? Check. Need to massage the data before sending it off? You can do that too.

Finally, much to our joy, Zapier gets real-time. In the drab land of polling, they’re making a push for pushing. Webhooks support comes out of the box, the documentation makes little jabs at “polling madness” and deduplication is grudgingly admitted as unwelcome consequence of having to repeatedly ask a web service for the last few items. Ducksboard has made a big bet on real-time and it’s warming our ducky hearts to see that there are some who think alike.

The poll is dead, long live the push!

Push to exit

Photo credit: Damien Franco

2 Responses to “How Zapier made us support a hundred new services in half an hour”

  1. Bryan Helmig

    We actually use a smattering of dashboard apps, and Ducksboard is pretty incredible. When we saw them adding themselves to our platform, there was much rejoicing!

    If anyone has problems or questions, don’t hesitate to contact me!

    Reply
  2. Riley James

    Met the Zapier guys in SF, legends. I’ve been looking for a dashboard for a while, this is perfect. We’re already setup with Zapier, dashboard up, dev time zero. Awesome!!

    Reply

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