Thoughts on Pipes on the Web
By way of my meme tracker, I found something like 15 entries linking to Yahoo! Pipes from my feed subscriptions. That's crazy — I've usually never seen more than 3-5 feeds linking to anyone thing, maybe as many as 8 if it's something really hot. I read about it over morning coffee and aggregator skimming; I heard about it on TWiT on the bus to work; I was told all about it in the hallway once I got to work. Yahoo! Pipes has been hard to miss.
With that in mind, it seems weird to me that I didn't get as excited about the release of Pipes as everyone else in my local blogosphere seems to have. Pipes has all the ingredients of something that should really set me off. Pipes, filters, mashups, RSS, Atom, RDF — (singing) these are a few of my favorite things! So, what gives? I'm genuinely worried that I'm sick, depressed, losing it, or otherwise replaced by a pod alien. Possibly all the above.
I knew about Pipes as an internal project at Yahoo! quite awhile ago — possibly even in my first week or two after having joined. I'm fuzzy on the timing here, but it's not important. Someone mentioned it to me at some point, I poked at it a bit from the internal network, and thought it was neat / keen. My main impression at the time was, "Cool, someone's doing FeedMagick, but done right and with a slick visual layout tool."
Then, I got really busy with del.icio.us and wandered off. So, the release wasn't big surprising news to me — my reaction was something like, "Huh, so they did a public release of that? Nice." Clearly I need more caffeine.
The thing is that the idea of pipes on the web is not itself a new concept to me. I think my XmlRpcFilteringPipes seems kinda silly in retrospect, and I'm all about the Power of the URL-line nowadays — but suffice it to say that I've been thinking about pipes on the web since as long ago as 2002 or so.
So, while I'm all jaded and apparently incapable of feeling the wonder, this seems to be one of the biggest revelations to people playing with Yahoo! Pipes:
Pipes? On the web? BRILLIANT!
So, it's not you, it's me. I think I've got a serious deficit of enthusiasm for what's really a pretty cool thing. I want to think a bit more about why that is.
Might have been buried in all the buzz about Yahoo, but this sounds like a neat idea.
You're not alone. I was excited when I learned about Pipes, but ultimately I was let down by the lack of parsing tools. Pipes is seriously limited without any XPath/regular expression parsing capabilities. Fortunately, there is a post on XPath in the feature request page.