So it seems clear to me that the Pipes application is a step in a really cool direction. I don’t know if there’s anything incredibly innovative in the idea of making programming easy, but Yahoo! has gone a long way towards the goals that other people have put into place. Ning thought that letting people code would be the way forward: give them a sandbox, let them copy paste, and they’ll build applications. The idea was right: there are a lot more people out there who want to be builders that aren’t. It turned out that the people who want to be builders didn’t have the skill level that they needed to build PHP code, even with mix/match and copy/paste.
Yahoo! Pipes is the followthrough on that idea: make it possible for people to take a set of input, and get a set of output, passing it through multiple filters.
The next step is obvious: Let people turn the filter settings into a web page, with the output being another web page. Search for all content 5 miles from a given Craigslist location: Take the user input as drop down boxes or something in an HTML form, and make the output a Yahoo! Map. Boom: you’ve turned everyone who can create a pipe into a web application builder. Stick ads along the bottom, and you’ve done one of the things that Ning tried to do: make money off applications in the same way that so many have made money off content.
I’m sure that Yahoo! already has this in mind, whether they’ve written about it or done it yet or not. It’s only a matter of time. It does make me wonder if someone could build something that did this without needing Yahoo! to do it… It seems like at the moment it would require altering a pipe on the fly, which I don’t see a way to do, so either there needs to be a further API, or we’ll all just need for it to get done
Update: Looking today, you can control the input of text inputs from the URL that you fetch the RSS with. This means that I can go ahead and build the pipe thingy for my own pipes as is. That’s pretty cool. I’ll show one with MetaCarta stuff on Monday.
Perhaps I’ll build an OpenLayers based Yahoo Pipe output viewer. It wouldn’t be that different from the GeoRSS viewer… but it would need a way to visualize non-Geo content. Ponder ponder.