Pipes is an unofficial successor of Yahoo Pipes that tries to replicate much of what Yahoo’s services offered before it was axed.
Yahoo Pipes was a useful online service that allowed you to process web data using a graphical user interface. Basically, what you did was connect data from the web, think information on a web page or RSS feed, run it through some tools, to generate custom content.
Basic examples for Pipes’ usefulness were tools to translate RSS feeds automatically, combine multiple RSS feeds into one, or customize RSS feeds.
Yahoo Pipes was a sophisticated powerful tool that you could use without any programming skills on the base level.
Pipes is a new service that can best be described as a — very — basic copy of Yahoo Pipes. While limited in its scope right now, it is already usable to create some feed related pipes.
If you have used Yahoo Pipes in the past, you will notice immediately that Pipes’ functionality is limited. The service displays five blocks right now that you can drag and drop to the interface to create or edit pipes.
A basic example would be to create a feed filter by connecting the feed block to the filter block. You simply paste a feed URL in the feed block, and enter a filter keyword in the filter block. Pipes generates a new RSS feed from this which you may subscribe to or load online.
One of the issues of Pipes right now is that it lacks documentation. It is not clear for instance what the “unique” block does. It requires input, but there is no information on that anywhere on the website. Other options that you have right now are to combine RSS feeds, or duplicate data.
Many blocks that were part of Yahoo Pipes are missing. This includes blocks like sort that process data in a way or another, load data from non RSS feed sources like CSV files, but also integration of third-party services like Yahoo Pipes’ translate integration.
Another feature that is missing right now is a library of public pipes. Yahoo Pipes supported this, and you could copy those or make use of the published pipes right away when the site was online.
Pipes has a long way to go before it grows from being a cool concept to something that will appeal to a wider audience. The developers have plans for the service, and announced already that Pipes will receive feature updates in the near future.
Pipes may already be useful to some users, but much of what it offers is already available in RSS feed readers like QuiteRSS as well (keyword filtering).
Now You: What would you like to see implemented by Pipes?
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