Introducing Yahoo! Pipes

I can best describe Yahoo!’s new service Pipes as a visual programming IDE for Web 2.0 mashups. Pipes allows you to gather, filter, truncate, analysis RSS feeds and other data sources to use that as input to other ‘modules’ all glued together with pipes. Pipes allows you to visually program web applications with prefab building blocks and connect them much as you would Lego blocks. There are other players in this space, Rapid Application Development for Web 2.0 applications, that allow you to define a custom web application such as Ning, DabbleDB, and Drapper.

I have some experience working with a drag and drop visual IDE framework. A visual IDE is usually limited to the functionality of the available building blocks. I wasn’t able to find an open API for Yahoo! Pipes that allows for the construction of new modules. I could see Yahoo! Pipes being more powerful still if there was an open API to construct additional modules.

Juixe TechKnow Pipes

I of course took Yahoo! Pipes for a little test drive. I cloned a simple pipe application and made it read the feed for this site. It was late when I was playing with pipes and I was tired, or I just lack imagination, but I couldn’t think of anything else that I wanted to do with this thing. As of this writing some of the ‘hot pipes’ are the New York Times thru Flickr, which analysis New York Times content for use as keywords to find pictures in Flickr, and TechCrunch Citations that scours a bunch of search engines for TechCrunch.

These ‘hot’ pipes are definitely interesting but you or I were could already have done that with some PHP, so what is the big deal? I think the big deal is not necessary the applications you can develop but the entry skills and time required developing them. The Yahoo! Pipes IDE/framework is what’s hot, not the applications. In todays Web 2.0 landscape, its all about the framework.

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