in Links, Reviews, Tech

Yahoo Pipes

The new Yahoo Pipes service is something I really want to like, but am pretty frustrated with right now.

The concept of the pipes service isn’t easily explainable. The best I can do is to say it provides an intuitive drag and drop interface for mashing up content from different sites. Ebay searches, flickr photos, rss feeds, etc. In theory, anyway.

I’ve spent the last couple days trying to put together a pipe that would merge all of my online presences into one RSS feed: posts from this site, my flickr photos, updates on what games I’ve played on my 360, etc, all sorted by date with the most recent item at the top. Not the most useful feed in the world to be sure, but it would be handy to be able to give it out to friends and family.

I can get to the step where I mash all the feeds together just fine. But the sorting algorithm does absolutely nothing. The resulting feed shows all my blog posts, then all the blog comments, then all the flickr photos, then all the 360 updates. The date isn’t taken into account for any of them, there’s no actual sorting and merging of the feeds done at all. All four of these feeds have the pubdate attribute in their raw code, so there should be no reason I can’t sort by it.

I think you can see my pipe here, if anybody wants to take a crack at telling me what I’m doing wrong:

I think there’s a lot of potential in the Pipes concept – lowering the technical barrier to entry on mashups would be a great thing. I just wish I could figure out how it works. Maybe the promised eventual tutorials will help.

I’m also really interested to see any useful library-related projects that have come from Pipes.