Yahoo Pipes, Microformats and Extendability

I think Yahoo Pipes is really cool. The main attraction is its slick user interface and ease of use.

I just created a pipe of all of the Recent Questions of Yedda translated using Babelfish to French and it took less than 5 minutes.

I do have a couple of ideas that I think will make Yahoo Pipes into something very interesting:

  • Accept Regular HTML pages
  • Have a built-in Microformats parser
  • Support for a more complex piping scripting (perhaps in the form of a JavaScript script)
  • Support for state saving (or at least a limited way such as the ability to compare the previous version of the page/feed you are piping)

Accept Regular HTML pages
Currently, Yahoo Pipes (at least as far as I’ve figured it out) accept only feeds (Atom, RDF, RSS, etc). The other building blocks that works with Yahoo Search, Google Base and Flickr eventually output a feed to Yahoo Pipes. Having the ability to retrieve a page instead of a feed and manipulate it will make things a lot more interesting and will allow VERY interesting meshups and ideas

Built-In Microformats parser
If Yahoo Pipes will accept regular pages, having a built-in Microformats parser will allow people to extract various types of structured information stored in the Microformats on the pages, thus, creating a reacher and more interesting abilities with Yahoo pipes.

Pipes Scripting
Having custom scripting abilities to Yahoo Pipes will make it really great and will allow a burst of innovation and interesting things composed with Yahoo Pipes. Of course, this feature is the most complex one from both development and security since having 3rd party code run on your servers is always a problematic thing. But, I’m sure the fine people at Yahoo can limit that.

One idea that comes into mind is writing such scripts in JavaScript, thus the whole running of the scripts on top of a page will be contained into a JavaScript environment and can only work on the input of the file being parsed.

State Saving
State saving will allow users to create a more complex pipe that can be aware of changes. The simplest one is to compare to the previous version of the page/feed, thus allow the pipe writer to figure out what to output.

An interesting pipe example that uses some of the things I’ve talked about above would be to have a pipe that listen to a certain drivers vendor’s driver page (most of the drivers vendors don’t have a feed that I can subscribe to and know when there are newer versions of a driver and things like that). The pipe would extract the current version and date from the page and compare it to the previous version stored at Yahoo of that page. If it has changed, it will add an item to the feed’s pipe saying that a new version exists, etc.

What do you think? Will this work? Would you be interested in such things?

Recursive Definitions

If you have a cool new startup that is going to launch and all you have to say about it to better describe it is “It’s Flickr+YouTube+Riya+[Enter a cool new startup with cool technology or hype here]” something is wrong with your pitch.

If you can’t describe your startup in layman’s terms without using the name of your competitors (or, in this case, the war casualties after you kill them all and win the internet web 2.0 war) you should really start to think twice about what you are actually doing.

I keep on seeing a lot of pitches on the web in the form of cover stories on high profile blogs that companies CEOs and founders keep on using some kind of a recursive definition – defining their own company by using the name of another company (or companies).

This recursiveness needs to stop otherwise there will be only one true definition for a company and everyone else will build their pitch on that definition and the definitions that are built upon it.

I know it is sometimes very hard to describe a cool new idea, especially if it is technically oriented and you need to explain it to a non-techie person.

Being able to actually do that will give you a couple of interesting things.
First, it will allow you to better articulate yourself for non-techies, potentially (depending on your idea) drawing them closer to the understanding you have of your ideas. This is good for startups that are web based and needs non-techie crowds to succeed.

Second, it will give you a better understanding of how you need to your idea. Every question or misunderstand a non-techie will have with your description is a potential for better understanding your audience and, therefore, improving your idea/company/product.

What do you think? Is it really that important or I just got pissed on seeing yet another pitch that is recursively described?