Publish custom feeds with Yahoo! Pipes

I was needing to do something really classic: gather many RSS feeds from different sources, choose part of them and make it a single RSS feed to use as a newsletter. After trying different tool, I chose Yahoo! Pipes, an easy application with a nice graphic interface which is not that new but still help a lot when you need it.

The matter was that I run this blog who has a RSS, but I also publish articles on different websites, some photos on my Flickr and some works of mine on my website/portfolio. So the question was how to group all those different sources inside one single RSS feed. I could have build a little PHP script to fetch all feeds and publish it again in RSS, but I wanted to be able to modify the feed settings easily. If you suddenly don't want something to be publish or feel the need to add something, it will be a pain to edit some PHP every time. So I needed the feed configuration to be available online, as far as possible with a simple (graphic) interface. I tried several online services and I finally chose Yahoo! Pipes.

A friendly interface

Yahoo! Pipes has the main advantage to be really user-friendly. It "lets you remix feeds and create new data mashups in a visual programming environment." said the official blog. Don't be scared by complicated words, it's easy to use. It works like a building game: you have some blocks containing or filtering your data and you organize it using pipes to reach the output block. The tree structure is a good way to visualize your feed structure.

pipes-screenshot

Make your own Pipe: explaining functionalities

First you'll have to reach for Yahoo! Pipes homepage and then click on Create a new Pipe.

  • Add  your sources

pipes-add-source

Now you will have to choose the data that you want to fetch in your feed. Yahoo! Pipes allows you to create a single feed using not only RSS feed but also search engine results, Flickr, web pages and some more data. Look at the whole list here.

Now we'll had a new feed to fetch. Drag and drop the fetch feed button on your workspace. Enter the URL of the feed to fetch in the dedicated field.

pipes-add-feed

You can check the content of the feed in the debugger on the bottom of the page.

  • Filter your sources

You can add filters and different other methods (look in Operators) to collect only posts you chose from a specific feed. Let's say we just need posts from a specific author, it will be done as follow :

You can also add dates or replaces string in the content. An automatic translation tool is also available.

  • Use multiple sources

You can add multiple sources and group them together using the Union tool which is in the Operators menu on the right. Your pipe will look like that

  • Export your feed

Save the whole project and you will be able to visualize your feed. You can export it in RSS, Atom and many other newsfeed formatting. You can also view it on Yahoo's interface.

Have a look on the Popular Pipes page. It introduces many pipes already created by people that you can re-use to fit your own needs.

NB: Yahoo! Pipes was released in February 2007, the website still in beta version today.

A question? A comment?

Please send it to me by email bonjour@clementrenaud.com or on Twitter.