Yahoo! Pipes is a free content manipulation service that lets you mix and mash up web content using a visual editor that doesn’t require any code writing experience.
The Pipes service has been around since February 7, 2007, and is the primarily the work of then Yahoo! Engineers Pasha Sadri, Ed Ho, Jonathan Trevor, Kevin Cheng and Dainial Raffel. The service, according to the official Yahoo! Pipes blog, is intended to be “a hosted service that lets you remix feeds and create new data mashups in a visual programming environment.”
Pipes for Ecommerce
There are a couple of ways that the Pipes service can be helpful for online retailers. First, it can be used to collect intelligence about industry trends or even competitive pricing. Second, Pipes can be used to place aggregated content on a retailer’s site.
As an example, one of the featured the services featured pipes, eBay Price Watch, monitors eBay, searching for products that fall into a given price range.
Creating a Pipe
Yahoo! requires registration to use Pipes. Once a user is logged in, clicking the relatively large “Create Pipe” button on the home page launches the service's visual editing tool. The tool has navigation on the top and left side. The main section of the tool looks like a piece of virtual graph paper.
To name the newly created — and at this point empty — Pipe, click the word “Untitled” in the upper left, type in the Pipe’s name, and click “OK.”
The navigation on the left side of the page lists several available modules. The modules are arranged into categories, including:
Sources. “These modules grab data from somewhere on the Internet and bring it into your Pipe for processing,” according to the Pipes website.
User Inputs. “These modules let you define parameters for your Pipe. These inputs can be fed into other modules in your Pipe.”
Operators. “These modules transform and filter data flowing through your Pipe.”
URL. "This module gives you explicit control over how a URL is constructed."
String. "These modules are for manipulating strings, which are sections of text."
Date. "This group of modules lets you define and redefine how dates are formatted."
Location. "This module converts written text into a location."
Number. “This module provides basic arithmetic operations.”
Most new Pipes will start with a source. If you know the URL to the source RSS feed, choose “Fetch Feed” from the left-hand navigation, dragging it onto the graph. The Fetch Feed module will immediately ask for a URL and create a Pipe Output.