Introducing Pipes

What Is Pipes?
Pipes is a hosted service that lets you remix feeds and create new data mashups in a visual programming environment. 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.

Philosophy Behind the Project
There is a rapidly-growing body of well-structured data available online in the form of XML feeds. These feeds range from simple lists of blog entries and news stories to more structured, machine-generated data sources like the Yahoo! Maps Traffic RSS feed. Because of the dearth of tools for manipulating these data sources in meaningful ways, their use has so far largely been limited to feed readers.

What Can Pipes Do Today?
Pipes’ initial set of modules lets you assemble personalized information sources out of existing Web services and data feeds. Pipes outputs standard RSS 2.0, so you can subscribe to and read your pipes in your favorite aggregator. You can also create pipes that accept user input and run them on our servers as a kind of miniature Web application.

Here are a few example Pipes to give you an idea of what’s possible:

* Pasha’s Apartment Search pipe combines Craigslist listings with data from Yahoo! Local to display apartments available for rent near any business.

* Daniel’s News Aggregator pipe combines feeds from Bloglines, Findory, Google News, Microsoft Live News, Technorati, and Yahoo! News, letting you subscribe to persistent searches on any topic across all of these data sources.

What’s Coming Soon?
Today’s initial release includes a basic set of modules for retrieving and manipulating RSS and Atom feeds. With your help, we hope to identify and add support for many other kinds of data formats, Web services, processing modules and output renderings.

Here are some of the things we’re already got planned for future releases:

* Programmatic access to the Pipes engine
* Support for additional data sources (such as KML)
* More built-in processing modules
* The ability to extend Pipes with external, user-contributed modules
* More ways to render output (Badges, Maps, etc…)

Pipes is a work in progress and we’ll need your help to make it a success. Try building some simple pipes and advise us what works well and what doesn’t in the online editor. Tell us how you’d like use Pipes, what we can do to make cool things possible, and show us ways you’ve found to use Pipes that never even occurred to us. In return, we promise to do our best to make Pipes a useful and enjoyable platform for creating the next generation of great Web projects.

And please have fun!

The Pipes Development Team

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