Building Your Own Status Board for iPad Module

Panic's Status Board for the iPad lets you see all kinds of information at a glance, but its real power comes into play when you start building your own modules to see your own customized information. Sure, that opens up opportunities for coders to design custom modules, but the Panic team also made it fairly easy for mere mortals to roll their own, too.

The easiest way to make your own custom module for Status Board is through the Graph and Table modules. As long as you have some data available online for Status Board to access, it'll build your graph or table for you, no coding required. This alone was worth the US$9.99 price for the app, and I found that building my own module wasn't a big deal at all once I thought through what I wanted to do.

I linked my Withings scale to Status Board with some help from IFTTT and DropboxI linked my Withings scale to Status Board with some help from IFTTT and Dropbox

In my case, I decided to build a graph showing my weight loss from my Withings scale. What I needed to make everything come together was my online Withings account, Dropbox, and If This Then That (IFTTT). Dropbox and IFTTT accounts are free, so you don't need to spend any extra money to pull all of the pieces together.

Every time I step on my Withings scale, my weight, body fat percentage, and heart rate are recorded in my online account. The trick is getting that data from my Withings account to Dropbox in a format that Status Board can use, and that's where IFTTT comes in.

If you don't already have a Dropbox account, go ahead and sign up for yours now. You'll need an account so IFTTT has a place to save your weight data.

Let IFTTT Do the Dirty Work
If This Then That is an amazingly handy online service that links together information for you and automatically makes other things happen. In my case, that means taking my weight readings from my Withings account and adding them to a CSV file in my Dropbox account.

Since a CSV file is really just a text document with data values separated by commas, you could update your data by hand, or by entering values into a spreadsheet application such as Numbers, and then exporting that data as a CSV file. The real magic, however, is in letting everything happen automatically so you don't have to remember to make changes yourself.

You need to sign up for a free IFTTT account so you can make your own recipe to link your Withings account to Dropbox. The easy way to do that is by starting with a recipe that does what you want, and I found one that works pretty well. I modified the recipe to include just the data I wanted by deleting everything form the Content field except for MeasuredAt and WeightLb, but if you want more data in your graph that's OK.

IFTTT can collect data from different sources and write it to a file in DropboxIFTTT can collect data from different sources and write it to a file in Dropbox

You'll also need to enable the Withings and Dropbox channels in IFTTT. Don't worry; IFTT knows this needs to happen and walks you through the process.

This recipe will create the CSV file for your Withings data if it isn't already in your Dropbox account, and it even makes and IFTTT folder to hold a Withings folder where your CSV file will live.

Once you finish customizing your recipe, click Use Recipe to activate it.

Dropbox Does the Handoff
Status Board needs to know where you're keeping the file with your weight data, so we need to make a trip to your Dropbox account. I'll show how to do this from the Dropbox website since you'll eventually end up there anyhow. Also, since Status Board is expecting your linked file to be CSV, you'll need to add the extension to the end of the file name. If you have Dropbox installed on your computer, you can rename it from there, just as you would with any other file in the Finder.

Here's how to find the URL to your data file:

  • Log in to your Dropbox account, then navigate to the Withings folder in your IFTTT folder.
  • Control-click the weight file, then choose Share link.
  • Copy the link to the file from your Web browser's URL field.
  • If you you're using your iPad, the link you need is ready to use in Status Board. If not, send the link to yourself so that you can access it from your iPad. I just emailed the link to myself so I could grab it from any device.

Use the Share link option in Dropbox to get your file's URLUse the Share link option in Dropbox to get your file's URL

Bring it All Together in Status Board
Now it's time to bring Status Board into the mix. When we're done, your weight changes from your Withings scale will appear in a nicely formatted graph that automatically updates.

Drag the graph widget onto your layout to add a new moduleDrag the graph widget onto your layout to add a new module

Launch Status Board, then tap the gear icon in the upper left corner. Drag the Graph icon from the widget bar onto your Status Board layout. If you already copied the Dropbox URL for your file, it should be in the clipboard and ready to use. If so, Status Board will ask if you want to use the link in your graph. Click OK, and you're ready to go.

Now you can resize your graph to fit your layout, and see a nice chart showing your weight loss over time.

Status Board checks the clipboard to see if you have a URL ready to goStatus Board checks the clipboard to see if you have a URL ready to go

If you take a look at my graph in the screenshot at the beginning of this how-to, you'll see along with my daily weight it also shows a weight total. That's the total of all the days on the graph, and not my actual weight. You don't have much control over how the data in your CSV files displays, but if you're willing to dive into the JSON format, you do more with formatting and appearance -- which I clearly didn't do here.

Since it's easy to link a CSV file to Status Board you can display nearly any kind of data, and not just my weight, through Dropbox. IFTTT includes plenty of other recipes that can write data to a CSV file in your Dropbox account, so if you can think of a way to get it there, Status Board can display it for you.