7 Reasons to Use Yahoo! Pipes in Your Blogging Toolkit

If you haven’t heard of Yahoo! Pipes, you’re missing out on an incredibly powerful, multi-purpose Web 2.0 service that you should seriously consider for your blogging research and SEO (Search Engine Optimization) toolbox. Here are just seven reasons to do that.

  1. Feed mashups.
    The fundamental purpose of Yahoo! Pipes appears to be the ability to take numerous RSS feeds from endless sources and mashup them up. This includes filtering (which doubles as search), sorting, and data transformation. Of course, since Pipes outputs results in RSS format, you can subscribe to the results of any Pipe. They have subscribe buttons for several feed readers, or you can copy the auto-generated RSS URL.
  2. Data analysis.
    At the time of this writing, Pipes just released eight new modules, many of which allow transformation and/or analysis of input feed data. They’ll likely be adding more modules in the future, possibly until the point that Pipes’ operators rivals XSLT – a poorly supported, standard XML querying language. (RSS feeds are a form of XML – eXtensible Markup Language.)
  3. Plug and play Web 2.0 logo components.
    Not only can you take the output of a Pipe and send it to a compatible Web 2.0 application, you can pull information into Pipes from numerous Web 2.0 services. There are both custom and generic modules to do this. Or you can simply take the output of a pipe and feed it to an HTML badging, to display a block of snippets on your website.
  4. Visual interface.
    Pipe-building is done on an empty, visual canvas, with drag-and-drop blocks that you drag-and-connect up with “tubes”. Pipes is sort of the visual equivalent of XSLT, which requires learning a whole ‘nother language.
  5. No need to be a programmer.
    Photographers that I know managed to learn Perl and PHP web programming. But with Pipes, there isn’t any regular programming. There is the visual equivalent of programming operations, but if you understand their functionality, you can learn to string the modules together to do what you need.
  6. Complex applications.
    Multiple Pipes can be snapped together like blocks to build complex Web 2.0 mashups.
  7. Resusable applications.
    Each Yahoo! Pipe has one of two modes that it can be in: published or unpublished (default). Once you publish a Pipe, someone else can use it, either just to run it, or they can clone it and tweak it to customize. You can also clone and tweak your own Pipes, even if they’re not published. Cloning saves a great deal of time for Pipes development.

Yahoo! Pipes is still in beta mode, so on occasion there’s quirky behavior, unresponsive servers, and changing modules. And yet, it is arguably one of the most powerful Web 2.0 services to date. It’s free, although you do need to be signed up for a Yahoo! Mail account.

Watch this blog for custom Pipes, as well as the occasional video screencast tutorial explaining how to to build a Pipe.