Yahoo Launches Pipes for Data Mashups

John Musser
Feb. 08 2007, 02:50AM EST

Want to build data-centric mashups mixing together structured data like RSS feeds? As of yesterday there's a notable new player on the block: Yahoo! Pipes. From their site:

What Is Pipes? Pipes is a hosted service that lets you remix feeds and create new data mashups in a visual programming environment. The name of the service pays tribute to Unix pipes, which let programmers do astonishingly clever things by making it easy to chain simple utilities together on the command line.

Philosophy Behind the Project There is a rapidly-growing body of well-structured data available online in the form of XML feeds. These feeds range from simple lists of blog entries and news stories to more structured, machine-generated data sources like the Yahoo! Maps Traffic RSS feed. Because of the dearth of tools for manipulating these data sources in meaningful ways, their use has so far largely been limited to feed readers.
What Can Pipes Do Today? Pipes' initial set of modules lets you assemble personalized information sources out of existing Web services and data feeds. Pipes outputs standard RSS 2.0, so you can subscribe to and read your pipes in your favorite aggregator. You can also create pipes that accept user input and run them on our servers as a kind of miniature Web application.

Here are a few example Pipes to give you an idea of what's possible: Pasha's Apartment Search pipe combines Craigslist listings with data from Yahoo! Local to display apartments available for rent near any business. Daniel's News Aggregator pipe combines feeds from Bloglines, Findory, Google News, Microsoft Live News, Technorati, and Yahoo! News, letting you subscribe to persistent searches on any topic across all of these data sources.

One of the most interesting pieces is the Pipes Editor. A rich, drag-and-drop visual builder lets you create or clone and edit pipes. Choose sources like APIs and feeds, apply operators, use string and date formatters, etc. If you have a Yahoo! account you should give this a try.

Yahoo Pipes

With powerful tools like this and Grazr it looks like the data mashups space is quickly heating-up.

More on this from Tim O'Reilly, Nik Cubrilovic, Jeremy Zawodny, Anil Dash and at Techmeme.

John Musser

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