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Issue 6.4


Yahoo! Pipes

Issue: 6.4 (May/June 2008)
Author: Dave Mancuso
Article Description: No description available.
Article Length (in bytes): 3,772
Starting Page Number: 10
Article Number: 6407
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I'd never heard of Yahoo! Pipes before January. A colleague showed it to me and I was stunned. I've used RSS newsfeeds for years, but I guess I've never thought about the possibilities of mashing together various content from the web for your own unique needs.

On the surface, Pipes is a way to intertwine RSS feeds into new, combined feeds. That's usually what new users try first. If you go to to http://pipes.yahoo.com, you'll be able to read an overview of the tool. You'll need a Yahoo! ID to log into Pipes, but you can see tutorial movies first to decide if the tool it for you. A number of Pipes tutorials are at http://pipes.yahoo.com/pipes/docs?doc=tutorials, but you can start with the movie linked on the main Yahoo! Pipes home page. The movie is a few minutes long, but you may want to log into Pipes in another window to follow along with the movie. You very quickly discover that Pipes is a web application with real depth.

Pipes is a visual tool; it's very interactive for a web application. As you experiment with combining feeds and other data, the action of building and connecting your modules is very fluid. You drag a module into the work are of your page, edit its criteria or source (your desired RSS feed link, for instance). Then you link it to other modules to combine information, take action on it, and output results. Pipes can look for certain things in feeds, pass them along or alter them, and then manipulate, filter, or augment them before the final mashup feed is done.

Things start getting more cool when you explore how Pipes feeds can be made intelligent. They can look for certain data to trigger actions, producing more targeted and dynamic output. It's very hard to describe; you have to try Pipes to get a sense of what it can do.

Once you create your mashup feeds and their output, you're not tied to Pipes to read them. You can go right back to your favorite RSS reader and subscribe to your created Pipes feeds. Once you reflect on Pipes, you begin to brainstorm a number of ways to use it. You could create custom feeds for your clients, create categorized or theme-based feeds, or create dynamic feeds that manipulate web information an present results to you.

Pipes clearly demonstrates that RSS is in its infancy, and has real potential for custom publishing and information aggregation. RSS is a dream market: a technology that's universally used but largely undeveloped. Even more, Pipes is an inspiration for what REALbasic could do with web and RSS information. It's a real opportunity for enterprising REALbasic developers to to exploit RSS and build really creative, popular, and profitable programs.

End of article.