Zapier, Screen

Experiment with Untappd and WordPress

I try to follow the tenets of the IndieWeb movement in that I try owning all of my own data and in publishing on my own site and syndicating elsewhere (POSSE). By posting original content first on my site, and then syndicating to silos I reduce decencies on third-party services.

But I can’t always have this kind of control. I can do it on Twitter and Facebook and there is an easy way to automate pushing out links from WordPress to my content. But some services aren’t easy to use in this way.

In the last few years, I have enjoyed drinking some of the fine craft ales that are produced in the USA. I enjoy many different styles but my favourite style is the India Pale Ale (IPA). My favourite type of IPA is the New England IPA. This style of ale is cloudy and has a tropical and fruity aroma. One sip and your senses are overwhelmed with flavours of grapefruit, peach, melon, tangerine with little to no bitterness.

I started using an app, Untappd, to keep track of the ales I drink, rate and comment on them, discover new ales and new breweries, and share and connect with other craft ale fanatics, and checkin to beers and breweries. Untappd also has a gaming element, where I earn a number of cool badges for completing a variety of different criteria. It’s a fun little app.

I didn’t have a way to re-create my Untappd content on my WordPress website. Until recently I had been uploading my images and creating a post by manually copying and linking to the post on Untappd. It worked but it was a painful process. Here’s one post for the Neshaminy Creek Mango Shape of Haze to Come.

Part of the pain is self-imposed. I love photography and I love beer. Combine the two and you have beertography. I stage my shots, usually using natural light, and I post process them in Adobe Lightroom. It’s what I do. But it means that my Untappd check-in isn’t instant. And then I have to spend time creating the blog post. I wish it was more like the process I used when I used the now dead Pressgram app.

But … as I dig deeper into making my WordPress website more a part of the IndieWeb, I started to think about how I could integrate Untappd content. I looked at the Untappd API but quickly realized that POSSE would not work. But what about PESOS?

In IndieWeb lingo, PESOS is an acronym/abbreviation for Publish Elsewhere, Syndicate (to your) Own Site. The publishing workflow starts with posting to a 3rd party service such as Foursquare, then using some infrastructure backend magic an archive copy if created under on your site.

Untappd allows the syndication of check-ins to Foursquare so I tried using IFTTT to pull the Foursquare content back to WordPress. It worked. But it wasn’t what I wanted. I wanted all of the information that was siloed in Untappd — the ratings, the toasts, the badges. All of those things are lost from the Foursquare entry.

So I looked at Zapier. Zapier provides similar automation functionality to IFTTT but has more involved workflow features to control the data with actions and triggers. Zapier allows me to chain together input and output from multiple web apps. It’s like IFTTT for programmers. After a week of frustration, I finally have a working method for pulling my Untappd check-ins back to my WordPress website.

Here’s the workflow I created.

  • The Untappd Checkin action connects to Untappd and pull data from the most recent check-in.
  • The Upload Featured Image action uploads the image from the Untappd check-in data to WordPress
  • The Create Post with Featured Image actions creates a new post on WordPress and links the uploaded image to the post as a featured image.

There are few things I needed to resolve before this worked. When the Zapier action uploads the image from the check-in, it needs to give the WordPress image a unique name. I used the name of the beer and the check-in ID as a unique name for the image.


The image I chose to upload from the Untappd API is {{29756616__media__items[]photo__photo_img_og}}.

When the Zapier action uploads the image it creates a temporary object with a unique identifier, {{29831497__attachment_id}}. The attachment ID is made available to the next action.

The post title is set using the name of the brewery and the beer.

{{29756616__brewery__brewery_name}}'s {{29756616__beer__beer_name}}

The main body of the post is created using the following template. I wanted to capture as much of the original Untappd checkin as I could and I also wanted to link back to the original post. The Check-in via <a href="{{29756616__user__user_name}}/checkin/{{29756616__checkin_id}}" class="u-syndication" rel="syndication">Untappd</a> code takes care of that.

<p>I am drinking {{29756616__beer__beer_name}} by {{29756616__brewery__brewery_name}} at  {{29756616__venue__venue_name}} {{29756616__venue__location__venue_city}}.</p>


Name: <a href="{{29756616__beer__beer_slug}}/{{29756616__beer__bid}}" rel="nofollow noopener">{{29756616__beer__beer_name}}</a><br/>
Brewery: <a href="{{29756616__beer__brewery__brewery_slug}}/{{29756616__beer__brewery__brewery_id}}" rel="nofollow noopener">{{29756616__brewery__brewery_name}}</a><br/>
Location: {{29756616__beer__brewery__location__brewery_city}}, {{29756616__brewery__location__brewery_state}}<br/>
Style: {{29756616__beer__beer_style}}<br/>
Alcohol by volume (ABV): {{29756616__beer__beer_abv}}%<br/>
IBU: {{29756616__beer__beer_ibu}}<br/>
My rating: {{29756616__rating_score}}/5<br/>
Brewer's notes: {{29756616__beer__beer_description}}<br/>

<p><a href="{{29756616__user__user_name}}/checkin/{{29756616__checkin_id}}" class="u-syndication syn-link" rel="syndication nofollow noopener">Untappd</a>.</p>

<div>[exif id="{{29831497__id}}"]</div>

I set the excerpt for the post to something that would work well for syndicating to twitter.

I am drinking {{29756616__beer__beer_name}} by {{29756616__brewery__brewery_name}} at  {{29756616__venue__venue_name}} {{29756616__venue__location__venue_city}}.

The date of the WordPress post is set to the same date as the Untappd check-in.


So with a bit of persistence, I have a way to get the best of both worlds. I can check-in using the native Untappd app. I will have an entry on my blog with the details of that check-in.

The title of the post was inspired by Chris Aldrich, who used the hashtag #ManualUntilItHurts on a comment to one of my posts.


  1. Camera : Nikon D40
    Focal length : 50mm
    Aperture : ƒ/6.3
    Shutter speed : 1/250s
    ISO : 200
    Credit : Khürt L. Williams
    Captured : 22 November, 2010

    As quite often happens when I discover some new thing or concept that peaks my interests, I become obsessive, descending into a rabbit hole of exploration and experimentation and lose myself. Because I want to learn as much as I can in as short a period as possible. So I’ll spend hours and days reading and testing and poking the edges of things. I become laser focused pushing other (sometimes important) things aside.
    But as I’ve worked my way through trying various experiments with various tools in the IndieWeb toolbox I felt my frustration building. Some things were beneficial1 to my way of working, some things were more problem2 than a solution, and some things just didn’t produce the results3 I wanted.
    I stumbled upon a blog post by Peter Molnar that I think captures what I was feeling and made me pause to rethink my efforts.

    After encountering the IndieWeb movement I started developing the idea of centralising one’s self. I wrote about it not once4 but twice, but going through with importing bookmarks and favourites had an unexpected outcome: they heavily outweighed my original content.
    I kept long journal entries; notes, for replies to other websites and for short entries; photos; and tech articles – the rest needs to continue it’s life either archived privately or forgotten for good.

    I think Peter and I have different use cases for our sites and I think we both initially tried to centralize everything on our websites. But, I think I’ve come to the same place where Peter is now and some conclusions of my own. If my IndieWeb experiment has become a distraction then perhaps I need to abandon some part of the experiment and do only what works well for me.
    The IndieWeb plugins — Publish, Webmentions, Semantic Linkbacks, Syndication Links — have all worked well for me. They all scratched an itch I’ve had for some time. I no longer worry about speed writing in-the-moment too short or too long comments on articles I encounter. With Webmentions and Semantic Linkbacks I can take my time to think before writing. I no longer worry that the comments to my posts are stuck on Twitter or Facebook. They make it back to my website.
    But some things I just need to do the way I did them before I found these new tools. I feel like the problem with posting on one’s site is that one loses some of the social aspect of some silos as well as the discovery aspect. Especially the discovery aspect. I also lose access to some of the analytics.
    For example, I use Untappd to log and rate the ales I drink. Untappd can analyze that data and make recommendations for ales that I might like. I can also see a breakdown of my check-ins and ratings. I like drinking New England style IPA from home and my top-rated ales are from Troon Brewing. I also see what other beer geeks in the area are drinking and discover new locations and ales. I sometimes meet in person some of the people I’ve connected with on Untappd. And sometimes strangers I meet in-person becomes Untappd connections.
    I think it would be very challenging to duplicate that experience publishing only on my site. So I used Zapier to push Untappd checkins back to Island in the Net and I manually link them.
    It’s been a struggle to find a solution to integrate information from the other silos. Until I do, I will return to my former process of posting first on my website while creating a separate post on the silo. Before IndieWeb, that’s what I did for Instagram posts. But now I can link the Instagram post to my originating post via the Syndication Links plugin.
    As Peter said:

    Don’t let your ideas take over the things you enjoy. Some ideas can be beneficial, others are passing experiments.

    I’m going to use what works and is easy but focus on my content. When it doesn’t work; when it’s not easy. I’ll move on. Try another time.

    The following IndieWeb plugins are highly recommended: IndieWeb, Webmentions, Semantic Linkbacks, Bridgy Publish, Syndication Links ?

    I’m looking at you SNAP Pro! ?

    Experiments with Instagram and WordPress ?

    Indieweb – decentralize the web while centralizing ourselves ?

  2. No! It’s hurts too much. It isn’t worth that effort to me. I don’t know what the solution is, but it isn’t this. I don’t want to spend that much time constructing a post and being that involved in thinking about the technical elements of the post in addition to thinking about actual content.
    I’ve certainly in into some frustration integrating certain silos with my blog. Foursquare? No. Untappd? Yes, after spending a LOT of time leveraging another service. Actually that one is a success.
    SNAP Pro has turned out to be utter shit. I’ve removed it. So I’m back to where I was weeks ago. Posting my content to Instagram, Faceboook, Twitter and Flipboard. But at least now I can use the Syndication Links plugin to enter the syndicated links. For Instagram it means I’m recreating my posts there. After creating a post, I spend another 10 minutes copy-pasting links. It’s starting to feel like the I spend more on the technical bits than on the content. I don’t think journalist are going to adopt this way of building posts.
    I think I’ve reached the point where I’ve decided that it’s getting in the way. It’s taking way more time and effort that the reward provided.

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