I like the Watchlist on the wiki - it helps me keep track of changes to pages I care about. When you are logged in, you will see a link to your Watchlist in the top right corner:
If you click on it, you get an overview of changes to the pages you added to your watchlist:
You can filter the output in various ways to make the result less cluttered.
Adding pages to your watchlist is simple - just click the star at the top of a page:
The biggest drawback is that you actually have to go to the page. I would rather be notified of changes on my phone.
This is where the Atom feed comes in. On your Watchlist page, you will find it in the left margin:
The Atom link provides the latest items on your watchlist as a feed, meant for software to do something useful with. Much like RSS. Actually, if you use an RSS reader, you can probably add the Atom link to your reader.
I don’t use RSS readers, but I do use IFTTT, or If This Than That. IFTTT is a very smart web site that you can feed all kinds of information from the internet, and perform actions on it based on triggers. For example, it can send you a text message whenever it is going to rain, based on weather data it gathers. IFTTT calls these things Recipes. People have come up with tons of useful recipes, and IFTTT is constantly adding interesting input options.
Let me show you how I created a simple IFTTT Recipe to get a notification on my phone every time someone updates an OSM wiki page I am watching.
First, if you don’t have an account with IFTTT yet, create one.
Once you are logged in, you will be able to create new Recipes:
The first step in creating a Recipe is defining your ‘this’ or input:
Click ‘this’ and choose ‘Feed’ from the list:
You can choose to pull this trigger on each new Feed item or just one that matches a certain string.
Choose ‘new feed item’. In the next step, you paste the Atom URL:
Then click to Create the Trigger.
This is the ‘this’ step that takes care of the input. IFTTT will monitor your Watchlist through the Atom feed and pull this Trigger every time it sees something new. I am not quite sure how often it goes and looks, but it’s about every 10-15 minutes in my experience.
Next is the ‘that’ step, or what do you want to do when the Trigger is pulled?
There are a lot of options, most of which you will need to ‘activate’ by downloading an app for your phone, linking another account, or something similar so that IFTTT knows what to talk to on your end. IFTTT has native apps for iOS and Android that it can talk to to send you notifications. This is probably your easiest option if you want notifications on your phone.
You activate these ‘Channels’ by downloading the app from your app store and linking it to your IFTTT account. I use a third party notification app called Pushover myself, because it has an API that can receive notifications from elsewhere as well. If you don’t care about that, go with the IFTTT apps or even the SMS Channel option. The example here assumes Pushover, but the steps are the same.
Once you have selected a ‘that’ Channel, you may need to choose between various output options. Pushover for example has two, normal and ‘high priority’. In the app, you can have these two types trigger different alert types / sounds.
In the next step, you get to craft what your notification looks like:
The text with a grey background will be replaced by text from the feed when the notification gets sent out. There are some more of these placeholders available under the + button:
Unfortunately, there is no ‘preview’ available, so sometimes it takes a little guess work to see what the results will look like.
I ended up with this:
The final step is to create the Recipe.
Now, when someone edits a wiki page on the OSM wiki that is on your watchlist, you will know right away!
(Note that these notifications are not about editing wiki pages :) I did not take a screen shot of those yet. The notifications you see here show whenever someone edits OSM in your area - something I wrote about on my old blog a while ago.