Dear Yahoo, I hate you.
I mean, it’s not like I didn’t have anything to do. I’ve been trying to learn the Second Life scripting language, have a whole mad scientist’s lab of experiments I’m doing on Google, and I STILL haven’t figured out what I’m going to give my husband for Valentine’s Day.
And then YOU come along with your Yahoo Pipes product — or, as I’ve renamed it, Yahoo Nerd-Crack Pipes — and now I despair of getting anything done. That little pfft sound you heard was my free time vanishing like a snowball on Mercury.
Still and all, I might as well write this up for ResearchBuzz. I was going to go to sleep — after all, it’s almost 4am — but as soon as I lay down and closed my eyes I thought of a great pipe idea… drat you all.
I don’t know how recently Yahoo put together Yahoo Pipes — I first read about it at Jeremy Z’s blog — but it looks like an early beta: there’s some documentation missing and a couple of spelling errors. Still, there’s enough here that I’m intrigued and overwhelmed with ideas.
Yahoo Pipes ( http://pipes.yahoo.com ) allows you to query online resources and “pipe” your results through several filters, or take a set of results from one resource and apply it to a set of results on another resource, or aggregate several results. (You’ll need to have a Yahoo account to use this service.) Yahoo Pipes has an initial set of sources you can use, but to a certain extent you can also use any resource that outputs as an RSS feed — which means, thanks to tools like Feed43, almost anything.
You accomplish this by dragging and dropping a series of modules onto a grid and linking them together. There are also submodules you can create and apply them to your pipes. Some of this is intuitive, but a lot of it is not. (It took me a while to wrap my head around how to feed the results of an RSS feed into a search engine and get an output.) There is a limited amount of documentation available, though tutorials are promised eventually. There’s also a fairly active message board.
Oh heck, this is kind of hard to explain. To see what it looks like, take a look at a couple of pipes I made. The first pipe is a simple eBay search, which you can see at http://pipes.yahoo.com/pipes/KjghjVW32xGFoDPPqu5lkA . The second is a pipe that takes the overall list from Yahoo Buzz and runs each item on the list through eBay. That one you can see at http://pipes.yahoo.com/people/fh2U.zoguGp_C_bLDy8YgTw.faUl . The first pipe, the one for eBay, is used as a submodule for the second pipe, the one for running Yahoo Buzz through eBay. (These pipes did not work properly in Opera, and worked fine in Firefox.)
I have spent a crazy amount of time with Yahoo Pipes in the last several days. My initial enthusiasm was replaced by frustration, which was replaced by the desire to hit my computer with a hammer, which in turn was replaced by enthusiasm again as I did a lot of trial/error learning. I can imagine — I have imagined — literally dozens of search tools I could create with this. I have an idea for a Second Life gadget I’d create using Yahoo Pipes. (More about Second Life in another post.) There were aspects of the Pipes that I kept looking for (if/then was the biggest one, real simple if/then). I hope this is only an early iteration of what could end up being a very exciting tool. That sucks up all my free time while I sit around and crank out search gadgets.
As I noted before Yahoo Pipes doesn’t have any tutorials up yet, but Mr. Speaker has a lovely tutorial available. Thanks Mr. Speaker!