Yahoo has launched a fairly impressive visual programming environment for the creation of customized mashups called Yahoo Pipes.
Why pipes? “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.”
The service seems to be a much more in depth mashup creation system than Ning.com, a service which lets anyone easily create a mashup or social website.
At first glance however, it is not as easy to use as Ning, and will take some time to grab an understanding of all of its functionality.
Tim O’Reilly describes Yahoo Pipes:
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.
Using the Pipes editor, you can fetch any data source via its RSS, Atom or other XML feed, extract the data you want, combine it with data from another source, apply various built-in filters (sort, unique (with the “ue” this time:-), count, truncate, union, join, as well as user-defined filters), and apply simple programming tools like for loops.
In short, it’s a good start on the Unix shell for mashups. It can extract dates and locations and what it considers to be “text entities.”
You can solicit user input and build URL lines to submit to sites. The drag and drop editor lets you view and construct your pipeline, inspecting the data at each step in the process. And of course, you can view and copy any existing pipes, just like you could with shell scripts and later, web pages.
Have you used Yahoo Pipes? If so, please let us know of your experiences in the comments below.
If not, what re you waiting for? Go over to Yahoo and lay some pipe!