Pipe any RSS mashup via your webpage

Two items of good news about Yahoo! Pipes. The data normalization problem between different data formats in RSS feeds is solved. And now there's a simple way of publishing live output from a Pipes mashup on any web page just by pasting a few lines of HTML and JavaScript.

I have two further items of good news to report about Yahoo! Pipes for anyone intrigued by the RSS mashup tutorial I posted earlier this week.

First of all, the Pipes team a few hours ago introduced a workaround to the date normalization problem that had been preventing a mashup of RSS feeds that use different date formats. Pipes now automatically appends a pubDate tag to any RSS feed that has any of the other allowable date tags. So provided the items in the source feed are dated, you can sort them on pubDate without having to worry about what date format they use in the source.

The second item of good news is that you can now publish headings and links from any Yahoo! Pipes feed in any web page, simply by adding 26 lines of straightforward HTML  and Javascript code to the page source. Writer and Yahoo! evangelist Kent Brewster explains how here: Badger : Badge Any RSS Feed With Yahoo! Pipe. Brewster is obviously a lot more technically astute than I am, because I have no idea how this works, but I've tested it and it does: simply paste his 26 lines of code into any web page (even a test page stored on your own PC), substitute the 'Get as JSON' URL of your chosen Pipe, bring up the page in your browser, and the browser fetches the JSON output and presents it as a list of clickable headlines.

What I find incredibly powerful about this is that it really doesn't matter where your web page is hosted, because all the host has to do is serve the DHTML. You don't need to install or even call up any special server software. All the server-side programming happens inside Yahoo's Pipes infrastructure, which takes care of reading the source feeds, along with whatever mashup functions you've built into the pipe, and outputs it in valid JSON. The user's browser does the rest. Or as Kent puts it [with my emphasis added]:

" ... any RSS feed is now mashable using nothing-but-Net technology: Javascript, CSS, and a little bit of HTML. Once the page loads, the intermediary server (my page, in this case) faces no further bandwidth cost to host the feed. Everything comes down from Pipes, which in turn grabs its information from the source of your choice. ... When the feed shows up, it's grabbed straight from Pipes and inserted into the document. This will work for any feed; no need to clone the pipe or otherwise play around with it."

With these two elements now in place, I now have the full answer to my prayers that I wrote about a week ago: a self-updating, 'river-of-news' aggregated feed that I can publish on my website — even better, one that I can do without having to write a single line of server-side script. If this is what's possible with Pipes after just a week, imagine what other innovations are going to surface in the coming months.

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