How to build Zapier apps: the framework

Steal the framework I've used to build 100+ apps all in Zapier


You can build almost anything in Zapier. Did you catch my newsletter’s name? 

Today I’m going to give you the framework I’ve used to create 100+ apps in Zapier including:

  • Newsbrew, a Mailbrew re-build
  • Client portals
  • A two-sided marketplace
  • Applicant tracker
  • Job board
  • CRM
  • AI image generator
  • RSVP/Event website

…the list continues to grow, but the framework for building hasn’t changed one bit. 

Lean in and eat this so that you can build whatever you want.

Here it is and it starts with chairs.

How to start thinking about building in Zapier 

Think of a chair. Go ahead.

Think of a chair in your head. 

Now, I’ll do a trick. 

That chair has four legs and is made of wood. 

Did I get it right? Yeah, I probably did. 

Building in Zapier has a similar trick. Find an app and break it down into its most essential pieces. Just like the chair. 

A daily habit tracker, for instance. It’s going to have a way to add habits and a way to mark them as done each day (and sometimes a way to reduce guilt).

It takes practice to narrow down the must-haves for an app. 

Building the must-haves  

Now, take the main character must-have of your app (the habit) and rudely digitize him into a row.

You really gotta rip the soul out of the app during this process. Don’t hold back. Now squeeze him into a table.

Apps are made out of these rows or records. That’s really all apps are. Records in a table.

Yes, you build these must-haves in Zapier Tables.

So each habit is a row and each row has a name and a checkbox for completing the habit. 

Next let’s breathe life into these lifeless habit-rows.

Making things snap, crackle, and…

Take all the unnecessary yoohoo out of the table by popping it into Zapier Interfaces. Interfaces is your app-maker. It looks good and allows you to only show logged-in users their own habits. 

Otherwise people would visit your app and everyone would see everyone else’s habits and we’d all start judging each other based on our habit choices and habit completion.

So, you put the table of habits into Interfaces, add a splish splash of color, and then add some filters to only show habits where the email address associated with the habit is the same as the user who is logged in. 

This is starting to feel like a math equation. 


Because it’s starting to become one. 

Zaps, automation, workflows and giant math problems

There’s a reason why Zapier is hard to learn. 

It’s stuffed with logic, math, equations, quantum physics, chalkboards etc. If you don’t like it, go use AI for everything since you’ll never get an error. 

But if you want your app to have a brain, you have to think like a brain. And every app has a problem.

Here’s the habit tracker problem: How do we get each habit to show up each day? Cause if we complete one right now, it’s completed forever. There are no dates. 

The solution: We have to create new habits each day so that each habit shows up each day and can be toggled as complete or not.

Every new feature is a new problem. But with Zapier, you’ve got the brain matter to solve almost all of these problems. 

You get to be creative. You get to be an artist. 

In case you’re curious, here are the two Zaps the habit tracker needed to solve its problem.

Every day, go find all the habits. Then run through each habit and create a new record for that habit plus today’s date. Use a checkbox for “Today?” to tell the habit that it’s active! 

Every night, go find all the habits for today and uncheck the “Today?” box to deactivate those habits and prepare for the next day’s new list of habits.

Go steal the habit tracker template and see how it all works. There’s even one more element that keeps track of completed days.

To recap:

  • Use the framework (bones-skin-brain) to build anything in Zapier
  • Reduce an idea down to its must-have bones
  • Use Tables, Interfaces, Zaps to build it all

That’s all for this week!

Happy Building,


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