Yahoo! recently launched a new services called Pipes, and in short, it’s an “interactive feed aggregator and manipulator.” By using it, you can “create feeds that are more powerful, useful and relevant” Sounded interesting enough to me, so I thought I’d go check it out. Unfortunately when I went to go give it a try and create a new pipe, I got this message:
That didn’t take long! Apparently Yahoo has some more work to do before it’s ready for the masses. So, after my disappointment, I set out to find someone who has gotten to play with this, who had a first hand experience with it and could give a good explanation. I came across O’Reilly Radar where Tim O’Reilly explains it well:
Using the Pipes editor, you can fetch any data source via its RSS, Atom or other XML feed, extract the data you want, combine it with data from another source, apply various built-in filters (sort, unique (with the “ue” this time:-), count, truncate, union, join, as well as user-defined filters), and apply simple programming tools like for loops. In short, it’s a good start on the Unix shell for mashups. It can extract dates and locations and what it considers to be “text entities.” You can solicit user input and build URL lines to submit to sites. The drag and drop editor lets you view and construct your pipeline, inspecting the data at each step in the process. And of course, you can view and copy any existing pipes, just like you could with shell scripts and later, web pages.
Pipes can simply be used as a kind of “power browser.”For example, you can build a custom mashup to search for traffic along your own routes every morning, or a news aggregator that searches multiple sites for subjects you care about. All you have to do is start with one of the existing modules. (And presumably, once pipes is opened to the public tonight, there will be many more, as anyone can publish their own modules.)
After reading O’Reilly’s explanation, it appears that Pipes makes it easy for people to play and interact with their feeds in a really simplified way. It also adds the social element allowing you to share the pipes you create. Hopefully it’ll be back up soon so that you can give it a try!