Interview with IceBotYT: The Developer behind the Flightcuts

Interview with IceBotYT: The Developer behind the Flightcuts

In the shortcuts community we value the work of each of the developers, that's why to highlight them, we bring you this interview with @IceBotYT. In this short interview, we will talk a bit about the work of IceBotYT, one of the outstanding members of Routine Hub. IceBotYT drew the spotlight for its shortcut "Flightcuts - Flight Tracker", which has been praised for its ability to track flights in real time. We will explore the details behind this tool, as well as the vision and challenges that drive the work of this talented developer.

When did you get your start with developing Shortcuts? When did you first hear about RH?

I got my start when I was on vacation, and I first discovered Water Eject through a YouTube short. I then fell into this rabbit hole of toying around with Scriptable and a lot of different shortcuts, and thought to make my own!

Can you explain how Flightcuts scrapes data from Flightstats.com for real-time flight tracking and how the airplane model is fetched and displayed?

When you make a request to Flightcuts, it fetches the flight tracker page for your flight, and looks at the data that is embedded into the page. The airplane model is just another one of the things embedded into the page!

How do you ensure a seamless user experience in displaying real-time flight information, and how would you handle feature requests and user feedback?

I try to guide the user as much as possible. Instead of asking complicated questions about IATA and ICAO codes, I ask simple questions like, "What's your departure airport?", "What's your arrival airport?", "What's your airline?", etc. to reduce the margin for human error. I'm always reading every comment on my shortcut listing, so if you have an idea, don't hesitate to reach out!

How do you handle errors and exceptions when dealing with external data sources, and can you share an example of a challenging bug you encountered and resolved during development?

I just take a look at the data and if something is empty when it isn't supposed to be, the shortcut lets the user know, and starts from the beginning. One challenging bug I remember dealing with was how slow flight tracking was at first. When I made the initial release, up until about a year ago, I would render the entire webpage in the background, and extract the variable that way. This proved very time-consuming, and did not work out at all. I then realized that the variable is included in plain-text in the HTML code, so I could just extract it with regex!

What can we expect from you in the future?

I hope to make more travel related shortcuts! I already have some ideas, so look out for those some time in the future ;)

You can see more of his work at GitHub