Yahoo Pipes is a new beta Yahoo service that allows non-programmers to create RSS mashups using a graphical drag-and-drop interface. Pipes reminds me of the old perl data transformation project called Sprogs, though Pipes is much more fully baked.
Being a fan of RSS, I wanted to test Yahoo pipes. I first tried to do a mashup of new real estate listings in my area, but couldn’t find open MLS RSS feeds anywhere. (If anyone knows of such, please let me know in the comments.) Next I tried to do a mashup of new DVD releases of movies which take place in certain cities. Again, no luck finding RSS feeds to support this. (Around then, I stumbled onto an interesting post from Brian Clark noting that today, just about anything interesting you can do with RSS you can likely still do with email. A good point, and true — we’re still early in the RSS game.)
So, test out Yahoo pipes, I opted for something different. I took a source of geographic data (I chose USGS earthquake announcements) and mashed it up with Yahoo Local search (search for “pizza”). Here’s a screenshot:
Yahoo Pipes has a nice AJAX UI. It didn’t take long to figure it out, and it worked well. One very neat feauture is the debug window, which lets you check the output of the transformation after each widget in the pipeline. There were only a few things I couldn’t figure out, like how to retain some data from the original feed in the new feed when using the “ForEachReplace” widget.
Overall, I’d give Pipes high marks, especially considering it is still in beta.
So, without much work, I had a working live RSS feed which presents pizza joints near recent earthquake epicenters. Not terribly practical, but an interesting test case. Here’s the RSS if you’re interested: http://pipes.yahoo.com/pipes/JI1B6B662xGQQgK_rscPhQ/run?_render=rss
For online retailers, Pipes is a very interesting development worth watching. Check it out.
Related Pipes links:
- The Pipes homepage: “Using Pipes, you can create feeds that are more powerful, useful and relevant”
- Tim O’Rielly on pipes: “This is something I’ve been waiting nearly ten years for”, “a milestone in the history of the internet”
- Jeremy Zawodny on pipes: “think it’s one of the coolest web apps we’ve released in a long time”
- Matt Cutts on pipes: “This is the closest to fun that RSS has ever been for me”