Popular productivity tool adds automation functionality

The low-code Butler solution for Trello will be available to all thanks to the acquisition.
14 December 2018

The popular productivity tool adds an edge of automation. Source: Shutterstock

As many businesses and organizations look to consolidate their IT application stack by means of automation, it seems that even on a micro scale, teams, work-groups, and departments are deploying automated tasks to make their lives easier. Tools on the market like IFTTT and Zapier let businesses trigger events based on criteria being filled.

Using very simple (yet powerful) software that’s interfaced with widely-available services like Twitter or Google G-Suite, teams can remove a great deal of dull, repetitive tasks, and get on with something less, well, boring instead.

For instance, rather than manually copy files from Dropbox for Business to the company’s Google Drive to create a backup copy, using a simple automation tool this can be done automatically, and, on each occurrence, a message can be pushed out on a specific Slack channel to say the job’s been done.

Trello, the company that launched a thousand workflows, has announced its acquisition of Butler, a company behind one of the platform’s most used “Power-Ups”. Butler automates the movement and processing of Trello cards, and the capabilities of the platform are soon going to be available to all Trello users, right out of the box.

One button takes many steps. Source: Trello

In a blog post, Michael Pryor’s (Trello’s head of product) announcement name-checks iOS Shortcuts, Zapier and the voice-controlled assistants that now grace many homes and meeting rooms.

“With tools […] and personal assistants such as Alexa and Siri, many people have experienced the value of freeing themselves up from the repetitive, mundane tasks of day to day life. […] However, in the workplace, those same benefits have been traditionally reserved for technical folks because of the complexity associated with automating processes, namely writing code.”

Even the lowest of low-code RPA (robotic process automation) platforms do require some technical knowledge, even if it’s only a broad idea of what an API actually is. But the lower end of the market, inhabited by the likes of services like IFTTT, and now Trello, users simply don’t have the time to wrestle with back-end database connections.

In Pryor’s blog post, he states, “[…] Trello will be the only tool of its kind to have native automation capabilities. That means you don’t have to install any 3rd party tools or integrations to get the benefits of automation for your team […] Butler helps teams codify business rules and processes, taking something that might take ten steps to accomplish and automating it into one click.”

Automation courtesy of Trello & Butler. Source: Trello

In Trello’s case, users will soon be able to – for instance – assign cards to specific team members once they arrive in the platform’s “Doing” list, depending on the card’s contents, all using commands parsed by simple sentences in Butler.

Butler’s algorithmic backend is expected to be available to all in time, although with higher use limits and functionality for paying users in Trello’s Business and Enterprise tiers.

Butler’s creator, Oscar Triscon, has joined the Trello team as a result of the acquisition, the value of which has not been disclosed.