Using Siri or Alexa with IFTTT, Google Sheets & Tableau (IoT)

Using Siri or Alexa with IFTTT, Google Sheets & Tableau (IoT)


IFTTT is Pretty Great


Have you heard of IFTTT?  It stands for IF THIS THEN THAT.  It’s awesome and you should check it out.  You can use it to connect all kinds of services like Social Networks, Voice Assistants, iOS, Android, Alexa, Google Docs, Fitbit, your smart toilet, and so much more.

It is pretty amazing what we can can do this day and age.  Did you ever wish you could…

You’re welcome.  You can do all that stuff today.


So What?


So what, how did we get here?

The other day, I was eating dinner with my girls and they were bickering about some nonsense.  I’m pretty sure I said “Girls, relax, stop, just eat you dinner.”  I know this because I heard myself say it like a dozen times.  Then I said, “Alexa, nag my kids to eat their dinner.”  She replied, “Hmmm, maybe the skill nag my kids can help.  Do you want to try it?”

Hell yes, I want to try it.

She walks you through the simple process of nagging your kids to do anything.  Alexa changes up the delivery calling them knuckleheads or something.  I sent it to my Mom and she asked if they have a nag my husband skill.  You can repurpose nag my kids for this skill in case you are wondering.

This became a fun little game for a few days, well, at least fun for me.  I don’t know how much fun the girls were having with this.

But, it got me thinking…can I just tell Alexa to track the kids so I can visualize it?  I mean who doesn’t want a visualization to track your kid’s bad good behavior?  Flashback….I wish I thought of this during #DearDuo (Our Quantified-Self data project)…

All the data you see below is fake.  My kids are perfect angels…😇


Let’s Do This – Siri


This workflow will allow us to use Siri to create a reminder on a specific list and to automatically write the reminder to a Google Sheet (which can then be automated to serve data to a Tableau dashboard).  It will give you a TimeStamp, Title and List Name (The notes and priority fields were blank for me).

If you have an iPhone, download the IFTTT app and create an account or login.  I connected with my Google account because we are going to do some Google stuff here too.  Make sure to authorize the app to use Siri and Search and turn on Reminders.

Open this applet to control google docs with Siri.  Turn it on and click on the gear to configure it.  You will have to connect and authorize the Google Drive service.  I changed the title, list name, spreadsheet name, and Drive path in the configuration below.

Save the configuration.  Wait a few minutes.  It doesn’t start running right away.  I was trying to test it and started screwing with the drive path (because I had spaces in it) and then the sheet name and then the Reminder list name and about a half hour later all this stuff appeared in Drive.  Do yourself a favor and test it, but wait for it to show up in Drive.

You probably also noticed above I have two applets here.  I created a second copy of the same applet.  The only difference is the title and list name were changed to good behavior.  Both of these applets will write records to the same sheet (giving me another dimension to visualize via the list name).


Magic Words for Siri


Below is the script I used for Siri.  The things in bold are where you insert the list names and dirt about your kids.  Things to avoid are saying today, this morning, etc.  Siri tries to be all smart and update the reminder with notification times and then she forgets what she is doing.  Keep it simple so she can keep up (just avoid those words).  Also, I hope you have a better accent than my Upstate New York accent.  She translates me horribly at times.

Finally, bonus points for Siri as she doesn’t respond to anyone else who says “Hey Siri” which is a nice security feature.  Pretty soon the kids catch on and try and track your bad behavior.  Siri doesn’t allow it.  Thanks Siri!

Me: “Hey Siri, add a reminder to the [good/bad] behavior list.”  

Siri: “What should I add to your ‘[Good/Bad] Behavior’ list?”

Me: [insert kid] was [good/bad] [description] at [location].”


Siri Data in Google Sheets


This is what the data looks like in Google Sheets.  Just connect this to Tableau and visualize however you want.

It took a few years, but I finally got Pooja to help me with some RegEx.  Here are a few calculations I used to create additional dimensions in the data.

Location | I was consistent with saying at in my description.  This extracts all the text after ‘ at ‘.

REGEXP_EXTRACT([Title],'\sat\s(.*)')

Timestamp | This removes the ‘ at ‘ from the CreatedAt field. I explicitly cast the data types due to errors upon refreshing from Google Sheets.

DATEPARSE ( "yyyy-MM-dd HH:mm:ss", Replace(STR(DATETIME([Created At]))," at "," ") )

Interactive Viz | Siri



 Let’s Do This – Alexa


Setting up Alexa is a little easier.  We are going to use this workflow to tell Alexa to add an item to a to-do list.  IFTTT will write the to-do item to a Google Sheet (which can then be automated to serve data to a Tableau dashboard).

Open this applet to add new Alexa To Dos to a Google spreadsheet.  Turn it on and click on the gear to configure it.  You will have to connect and authorize the Google Drive and Alexa services.  I removed the third cell in the configuration below as it was a duplicate.

Save the configuration.  This one runs more frequently than the Siri one.  I saw the new sheet right away.


Magic Words for Alexa


Alexa doesn’t give us as many fields, but if you are consistent in your script, we can extract the same dimensions with some more RegEx.  I used essentially the same script as with Siri.  Additionally, Alexa was far more accepting of words like today, this morning, etc.  The key is the consistent script.

Me: “Alexa, add an item to my to-do list.”  

Alexa: “What’s the to-do?”

Me: [insert kid] was [good/bad] [description] at [location].”

Fair warning: Alexa will respond to anyone so your kids might start tracking you!


Alexa Data in Google Sheets


Location | I was consistent with saying at in my description.  This extracts all the text after ‘ at ‘.

REGEXP_EXTRACT([Title],'\sat\s(.*)')

List | This extracts three to four digits the text after ‘ was ‘ appears.  Wrapped this in Trim to drop the extra space on bad.  Returns ‘good/bad’

TRIM(REGEXP_EXTRACT([Title],'\swas\s(\w{3,4})'))

Timestamp | This removes the ‘ at ‘ from the CreatedAt field. I explicitly cast the data types due to errors upon refreshing from Google Sheets.

DATEPARSE ( "yyyy-MM-dd HH:mm:ss", Replace(STR(DATETIME([Created At]))," at "," ") )

Interactive Viz | Alexa



Thanks for reading!

One thought on “Using Siri or Alexa with IFTTT, Google Sheets & Tableau (IoT)

  1. Debbie Crahen

    I love this article. Good thing they didn’t have this when MY BOYS were growing up, although I’m sure they would have found a way to skew the data!

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