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Actionsflow – IFTTT/Zapier free alternative based on GitHub Actions (github.com/actionsflow)
194 points by theowenyoung 29 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 73 comments

A more general comment because I see these services popping up on here from time to time: You’re not an alternative to IFTTT or Zapier unless you have a comparable GUI, full stop.

I would love to see an alternative to these services that could be self-hosted, but the reason why these services are useful for most people is because they have a simple web-based interface, even compared to something like Yahoo Pipes. This opens up their capabilities to non-technical users. If you’re asking people to edit configuration files, you’ve already lost them, unfortunately.

If someone can do that, that’s where the opportunity lies for an open-source alternative to Zapier or IFTTT.

n8n[0] is self-hosted, has a nice GUI, and its source code is available on GitHub. It is not open-source in the strict sense though.

[0] https://n8n.io/

Agree! We have a full developer team, but I find myself using Zapier for tons of small things in the company that would be way too low value to get done all the way into production with proper unit tests, etc.

Found some strange bug that you want to create a ticket to investigate if it happens again? Just use a SQL trigger and create a ticket with details.

The SQL trigger is the #1 most under-used Zap I have found, love it.

Possible fraud cases, getting daily counts, duct-tape until a bug fix goes live, etc these are all great applications of SQL -> Slack/ticket or something similar.

this right here. the best zapier clone i've seen is automatorwp for wordpress. granted it's new so it doesn't have tons of integration yet, but new ones are being added every month. the interface is just so easy to use, no coding required.


I think it's possible to add a GUI with GitHub login.

Am I the only who thinks Zapier and IFTTT are useless? The only one that comes close to delivering on utility is autocode.

I doubt you're the only one, but that's a very narrow-minded view of the world. Do you also feel that eyeglasses, hearing aids, and other personal assistance devices are 'useless' just because you personally don't need them?

Someone who is capable of using autocode - who has the technical capability to write code - may not need something like Zapier.

On the other hand, it took me 5 minutes with Zapier to set up a fully automated system that takes a line from a spreadsheet and populates a calendar, sends a calendar invite, and sends some follow up emails for a charity thing I run. It saves me tons of time, and I never have to think about it, nor did I have to write a single line of code against an API that will change shortly for I forget how all of my code works.


I think if you said they're useless for you nobody would've batted an eye, but I think saying they're useless in general is just wrong considering how many users they have.

It's allowed, but kinda useless right? "I like cows". Okay. I can't do anything with this information.

It's not even phrased like an opinion. It's "All cows are useless except one."

What does it matter how many people think these platforms are useless? Even if 7 billion think they're useless, that leaves them with quite enough of a market segment.

A quick search shows that Zapier has over 3M users and IFTTT has 18M users, so they got that going for them.

IFTTT recently introduced a pro pack which quite heavily impacts a large portion of its userbase, which is why I personally think that their current number of users is pretty useless as a metric.

They also charge services for supporting them and want the services to make a special API for them (as opposed to plugging into existing ones), which is why I find them relatively scummy.

That being said, Zapier is just expensive. From my memory it's like $20/month if you want more than 3 automations running, and can easily rise to $50/month. I like it as a service, but that price is fairly unreachable for me.

I've only just found it but try out Integromat. So far it feels like the middle ground between IFTTT and Zapier in terms of features and price.

It also handles processing earlier data which won me over. Want GitHub tasks to get into your Todoist workflow? Easy enough to do on all 3 for future issues.

Integromat lets you process issues that already exist.


They are personally useless for me. On many occasions I wantied a no-code no-hassle "point and click" automation and I have tried them a few dozen times over last 5 years and never had any success even once - they had always lacked something and were unable to do things I wanted. And I wanted nothing extraordinary, typically something like a proper bidirectional synchronization between two services (say, Alexa todos and iOS reminders)

They seem to work for many people though, so they aren't useless in the general sense.

My brother uses Zapier to automate a lot oft the processes in bis company. Especially the backoffice processes. He is is not a tech savy Person. If you ask him what an API is, he has no idea.

It obviously only works if you use SaaS pltaforms for everything but, sadly, thats the default in a lot of companies anyway.

Interesting. I personally would never use those services for production/work. And even for personal it’s iffy at best. I wasn’t aware they had so many users.

Interesting. I personally would never pass up an opportunity to save myself ~20hr a month by automating a business process for free, or nearly free.

I don’t understand your consistent personal attack here. Do I really need to explain why I would never use those services for production? They’re not reliable and you don’t have control over them. Building an entire business on top of these services come with significant risks.

It's not personal, nor is it an attack. As far as consistent - my apologies, I didn't realize this comment was made by the same person that I had replied to earlier.

Perhaps we should grab a beer sometime on me?

Read up on the whole no-code thing. Zapier (along with the API-based services it plugs into) has essentially enabled an entire philosophy around startups that does not require the use of a code editor.

I think that we're going to see a rejection of no-code in a few years. Whatever the new word for visual programming is, it comes in cycles and the visual programming tools adopt more scripting integration and then we come back full circle.

This may be a failing of those who develop visual programming interfaces, honestly. These tools are often built for non-technical users and to build in more scripting integration harms the original value proposition … which then leads to the next generation of visual programming tools.

You can place the origin at any offset in a circle and rotate 360 degrees to get back to it. One paradigm adopts features from the other to better express complexity or lack thereof, and the cycle transitions when someone decides "there's a simpler way to do this, I shouldn't need to hold all this in my head."

And at the end of the day these tools are competing with Excel, which supports both visual and textual programming for the same reasons.

Any good links?

Here are a couple that describe the general concepts and how Zapier works into them.

https://zapier.com/blog/what-is-no-code/ https://www.sitepoint.com/how-colocated-companies-can-adapt-...

Basically, the idea is that you can build a full-on app without having to dip into code, allowing you to develop an idea and prove it works before committing to it with more in-depth development.


I personally find IFTTT useful for a few basic home automation things. I probably could write some code to do it myself, but it's much faster so for things that aren't super important to me, I might not do them at all if I didn't have IFTTT. Now that they allow multiple triggers and filter code, it does most of what I want without having to run anything myself.

I find that Integromat strike a good balance between ease of use (vs pure code) and "power" (compared to Zapier et and IFTTT)

I have actually tried Integromat and have found it interesting, though I haven’t taken a deep enough dive to decide if it’s for me. (It’s cheaper than Zapier, which is a big plus.)

I honestly find the pipes-based interface kind of a turnoff, admittedly, but functionally it’s not bad.

Never used Zapier, but IFTTT is too simple to really be useful as you can't do much with it. I had a few actions, but not after they announced it's not really free anymore.

> Actionsflow helps you to automate workflows, it's the best IFTTT/Zapier free alternative for developers.

Perhaps I'm a bit old school or not as invested in open source "marketing", but I appreciate some more humility and honesty in a project description. With amazing open source projects like n8n and nodered around, it's usually best to wait and receive the title of the "best" from others rather than give it to yourself.

I’m sorry about the description of "best", I have removed this word from the project description, Thank you for your advice, I will remember it.

I did not expect that, and sorry if I sounded harsh. I truly admire your enthusiasm, being proud of your work, and of course sharing your work with the open source community.

This is the fastest, coolest, humblest response to constructive criticism I've seen in recent memory. Wow!

related; "best practice" < "good practice"

Isnt this a ToS Violation?

> Actions should not be used for:


> any other activity unrelated to the production, testing, deployment, or publication of the software project associated with the repository where GitHub Actions are used.

Thank you, I have to say I noticed it from your reply.

I'm not sure if it's a ToS Violation, I saw some simillar scheduled actions by other people, I supposed it's ok for github actions.

I need to review it again.

There was another project on HN recently that used Actions in a manner that also was a ToS violation and there was a lot of discussion there: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=24452384

The biggest fear from a lot of devs is that a lot of projects depend on the free Actions quota for their builds, and if a lot of other services start misusing this then Microsoft may shut down or more greatly restrict the free tier.

Hey Hackers

I'm Owen, a workflow lover. A few days ago, I received an email from IFTTT that we loved has officially started a paid plan. I'm sorry that we are missing another free and great tool. I wish the IFTTT team all the best and hope they can succeed !

If you want a free, customizable alternative to IFTTT or Zapier, I hope Actionsflow can bring you a different experience.

I’d love for you to check it out and hear your thoughts!

Happy commenting!

Is there no GUI?

GUI is very important when you get past the IFTTT and into more IFTTTIFTTTIFTTIFTT workflows. The GUI makes the workflow understandable. And huginn has indicators that enable you to measure progress or identify errors on a diagram.

Yes, no GUI, it's more suitable for developers, or you can use it with IFTTT together..

This is very cool and interesting. Are there any other Zapier clones out there in the open source world?

https://n8n.io/ is not open source.

The source is open, and is available on GitHub, how is it not open source? Why does software have to be free for corporates to exploit (AWS) to be open source?

For one thing, they themselves no longer call it open source, and restrictions on how software can be used violates central tenets of what open source is. You can read about this is copious detail at https://github.com/n8n-io/n8n/issues/40

Its because of the backlash here, i still remember being on the thread on launch. I still dont understand the sentiment, People want things to be built and fixed for free, but in the end some corporate comes in and builds a saas on top of it (AWS again). The code is open to read, free to use in a personal setting and company setting, you just can't commercialise it. Thats what Commons means, gatekeeping is the reason why, there is a prevalent confusion about GPL and open-source.

But being open source is not about the code being "open" to read, it’s about users being able to use it for any purpose, modify it if they want and share changes.

Thanks! I guess none of them are amazing, which is why you built this :)

for me, the problem is all of them need to host soemwhere(like vps), but I just want a simple, free, forever service...

> simple, free, forever service

I'd argue that running something on a VPS is lot more a "forever service" than abusing Github's free tier for something that's not covered by their ToS.

I think the amount of time (work) you have put into this would have given you enough dollars to rent a smallish vps for longer than the life expectancy of GitHub.

$50/hour = assuming 10 hours total = $500

A droplet on DO costs $5/month. On few others, it's down to 3$/month.

That will run you about 8-10 years with yearly discounts.

Yes, you are right. Actually I have 3 vps of mine, but the workflows I want to do is so simple, just like rss -> telegram notice, and some filter, I don't intend to run a big process for this on vps. I believe some others have similar need too, so, I made this to help them save time.

But this is Directly against Github TOS,and could be shutdown by them like tomorrow.

Buffer? Can it feed into Buffer? Or similar? For example, Like a video on You Tube, send that to Buffer.

I like IFTTT but consistency and support are always an issue. When it's free that's part of the deal. But if we pay and there's still unreasonable wonkiness...

I haven't used Buffer, I searched Buffer at Github Actions, but there is no actions yet, but it seems that it's easy to support Buffer, I'll add it to todolist.

Actionsflow helps you to automate workflows, it's the best IFTTT/Zapier free alternative for developers. With Actionsflow, you can connect your favorite apps, data, and APIs, receive notifications of actions as they occur, sync files, collect data, and more.

You can use many triggers provided by the community (Like Slack, RSS, Webhook, Typeform, Email, Reddit, NPM, Telegram, Twitter...), you can also create your own triggers easily. You can also use Github Action as your workflow steps.

> We implemented it based on Github actions.

Is this lock in?

Thanks, yes for now. You can run it locally for testing, but you need to deploy it to github actions finally.

Anyway, this sounds a good idea for no limitation with platform.

Does anyone have examples of IFTTT flows that actually make use of the "Pro" features. I hadn't been using it much besides having rss comics sent to my email but had an account for years so figured I'd try it out. As far as I can tell it is exactly the same except I'm paying two bucks a month now.

Create a new applet - multi-step is a nice (and about time) feature add

Aren't they limiting it to three applets too?

GitHub actions isn't free

Free for open source.

been working on this long? interesting - recently just coded something my own as IFTTT limitations on things like twitter were too annoying.

Trying to visualize how could recreate my work in this format/actions setup - seems like might work....but alot of this is hanging on Github being 'ok' with Actions being used for this and their cron/scheduler being used all day? I suppose it's running tasks anyways but seems like really could bog it down with a bunch of these just running and not really using Github for anything

  Ifttt is trying to monetize.  Can’t blame them.  Thanks for this alternative.  Also discovered reddit bans on accounts who used ifttt. Wandering if anyone else has same experience

IFTTT already was monetizing. They previously did so by charging fees to IoT manufacturers which wished to allow their customers to connect their devices to IFTTT. They have raised those fees recently which led to some device manufacturers dropping IFTTT or charging their customers fees to use IFTTT with their devices. This along with IFTTT dropping some actions which resulted them incurring costs, sending SMS messages for example, has significantly reduced the usefulness of IFTTT for many. It will be interesting to see if the decision to monetize through consumers along with manufacturers will work out or alienate enough consumers that even more manufacturers decide that connecting to IFTTT is not worth the expense.

It always seems like constant searches by ifttt might violate tos, so most services I do searches like that on (or use ifttt to search on) I have separate accounts for automation.

I thought IFTTT integration was authorized by reddit. Also, can you please provide a regarding the bans?


A few users who claim to have used IFTTT even for read-only operations are saying they've had their reddit accounts banned.

This thread as well, with a response from a reddit staff member: https://old.reddit.com/r/bugs/comments/j343d2/ifttt_is_being...

My account was just banned. I don't really post or comment, and mainly use ifttt for updates on sales subreddits. No explanation or anything, just just banned it and denied the appeal.

It was just reinstated. I have no idea what's going on

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