If you like to tinker with and automate your web, and if you are a fan of services like IFTTT, then you may or may not have heard of Yahoo Pipes. Yahoo Pipes has been around for a dog’s lifetime in Internet years – it was first introduced in early 2007. While venerable, it is still mighty useful if you spend a few moments getting to know what it can do for you.
So, what can it do for you? It’s tagline is “rewire the Web.” Pipes describes itself as a powerful composition tool to aggregate, manipulate, and mashup content from around the web. Or, stated differently, it allows you to remix feeds and create data mashups so you can better control the flow of information to your virtual doorstep.
By joining together simple commands, combine multiple feeds into a single feed and then sort, filter and translate it. Use Pipes to geocode favorite feeds and browse the items on an interactive map. Use Pipes to create widgets and badges with feed information on your web site. And this is just the beginning of it.
You start with a Yahoo account login. Then you access the visual editor wherein you can drag and drop preconfigured modules and “wire” them together. Each module performs a task like “Fetch” or “Feed Auto Discovery” or input date, location, number, text or URL. Operator modules transform and filter pipe data. URL modules manipulate the URL. Combine text strings, define and format dates, convert text strings to geographic location and perform mathematic functions. After you build a “Pipe” by stringing together modules in the visual editor, you can save it on Yahoo’s servers. You can output your data in several different formats. You also can publish your Pipe to benefit net-kind. You can discover a feed in module one, filter the feed in module two, three and four, add other functions and then connect the Pipe to the output module. You are then greeted with a Pipe that will pull and filter information and present it to you the way you want to see it. Then subscribe to the Pipe’s output in your favorite feed reeder and get only the news you want, when you want.
If you don’t feel much like building your own, check out the large number of community Pipes published by members and tailor them to your own use. Search for Pipes on the Browse tab, or check out the tagged Pipes along the left navigation pane. For example, type in “find jobs” and pull up a bunch of Pipes that will allow you to do just that. Pre-built Pipes allow you to simply add the required information into fields and run the Pipe to get the output.
What if you want to get really creative and use a search module to pull up any mention of your company or firm on the Web or on Twitter, mash the two feeds together and output them in a fancy little widget on your website? Real time, and real handy for web monitoring and promotion.
It is a little hard to explain without visual aids, so check out the video below to see how to build one yourself. And, remember, you can already use a pre-existing Pipe – chances are someone has already built the mousetrap using Pipes. Kinda like a virtual Rube Goldberg machine for your Internet information.