Update: Got through to give Yahoo Pipes a whirl and did a gallery. Let's just say novices need not apply at this juncture. Great interface though.
Who knew that an RSS remixer would become so popular on its first day that site would be down due to a crush of visitors?
Such is the case with Yahoo Pipes (http://pipes.yahoo.com/), which has sparked a lot of buzz today and appears to be down at the moment. The short version: Yahoo Pipes is groundbreaking even though it's a bit hard to explain. From a corporate strategy standpoint, Yahoo Pipes is a big deal because it's beating Google to the punch on something.
I managed to play with it a bit this morning and the user interface is does make the complicated relatively simple. Here's what Yahoo says:
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.
Meanwhile, the early reviews are impressive:
Yahoo!'s new Pipes service is a milestone in the history of the internet. It's a service that generalizes the idea of the mashup, providing a drag and drop editor that allows you to connect internet data sources, process them, and redirect the output. Yahoo! describes it as "an interactive feed aggregator and manipulator" that allows you to "create feeds that are more powerful, useful and relevant." While it's still a bit rough around the edges, it has enormous promise in turning the web into a programmable environment for everyone.
Is Pipes going to be a success? In many ways it already is. It lets Yahoo unequivocally be first at something, and if you count the broader market of web-based application development tools, it lets Yahoo be best at something, too. It's innovative, exciting, and well-done. There are still rough edges and inexplicable nods to the Big Purple Monster. (Whose idea was it to have the Yahoo Messenger anime avatars next to developer names on the site?) But the web needs a way to rip, mix and burn feeds, and Yahoo has stepped up to provide an essential platform in a way that seems open and approachable.
Yahoo! Pipes is one of a very small set of completely amazing on-line data manipulation and data mashup environments that can really change the way we work with on-line data sources. (The others are DabbleDB and Dapper.)
The idea of Yahoo Pipes, as far as I can tell from a quick look, is to allow that same pipe behavior on RSS feeds. The system also outputs RSS urls. There are operators like sorting, counting, truncating, etc. If you wanted to make a mash-up of different feeds, this would be a neat way to prototype it.