Me, programs, examinations and coursework.

Your Feed is being Piped

 

Image representing Pipes as depicted in CrunchBase

The Yahoo! Pipes logo. Image via CrunchBase.

Yahoo! Pipes is a pretty cool thing that basically allows users to, as they put it, ‘aggregate, manipulate, and mashup content from around the web’.

The thing about Yahoo! Pipes is that it’s supposed to be a tool to let users take content from all over the place and then do interesting things with it, and reformat it so that it fits their needs. Like stock market information. Or… blog posts. Or… RSS feeds.

You see, I’m currently working on this website project that has a little tiny widget that is supposed to take my school’s online bulletin system’s built-in RSS feed and display it on the site. It’s a little feature that I like, and I’m hoping it’ll drive more student traffic onto the site.

Here's the little guy, displaying a poor error at the beginning of the project.

Now, this was set up over the holidays, when the RSS feed was empty and there was nothing on it. When I first saw it, I assumed that the error was a result of an empty feed. So I ignored it.

However, later, I soon discovered that the bulletin was being updated, and the RSS feed was, but this little guy was not. So I had a little search. The site is hosted on WordPress.com, and soon enough, I found a little line in WordPress’s support documentation:

Feed URLs that start with “https://” will not work on our RSS Widget.

And I was not even surprised to find out that the RSS feed my school provided was set by the server’s requirements to only send the feed over HTTPS. As a result, I was stumped. There was no way to directly get the RSS feed over to the widget.

Determined to fix the problem instead of just dropping the widget, I began to search for some options. As a result, I came across Yahoo! Pipes, which I soon discovered was just perfect for the widget.

I’m not a fan of Yahoo!, and I certainly use none of their products (preferring Google), but Yahoo! Pipes proved amazing. While the task I used it for (RSS reconfiguration) could possibly also have been achieved by Feedburner, Feedburner refused to load my school’s RSS feed and claimed my school’s server returned 400 errors. (Which is probably likely.)

Yahoo! Pipes uses a drag-and-drop programming method, not unlike Scratch. It’s really easy and intuitive to use and the only problem I ever encountered was that the ‘pipes’ I created occasionally refused to save and I had to duplicate-save my project six times to get it to work properly. Still, it’s a wonderful tool for anyone who needs to take information from all over the Internet and put it in one place, especially if you need to reformat that information into another form.

I haven’t tried all of it out, but I definitely will take a look at the other features offered by Yahoo! Pipes.

What really interested me was that Yahoo! allowed me to sign in with my Google account, through OpenID. I wonder why that is? Does anyone have any ideas?

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