What does Pipes do? Pipes enables the creation of custom RSS feeds tailored to specific interests. Here’s a very simple example: you could create a “pipe” which asks for a zip code, then generates a single feed containing information taken from a collection of weather feeds, news feeds, events feeds and sports feeds pertaining to that zip code. Or you could create a pipe which mixes news about a big event with Flickr photos of the same event. Or how about one that combines comments from the same person across multiple blogs?
However, while this feed filtering capability is exciting, the fact that Yahoo! is attempting a true web-based IDE is what makes Pipes stand out to me. Pipes offers a web-based development platform along with a web-based, drag-and-drop development tool which enables easily browsing, viewing and cloning code written by other developers working on the same platform.
In other words, this is Yahoo! making a platform play, not an aggregation play. Yahoo! is upping the ante in their competition with other web platform players (notably Google, Microsoft and Amazon).
I’m extremely impressed by how much Pipes tries to accomplish, but it does have sort of a “proof of concept” feel to it. Regardless of whether Pipes succeeds, though, it will be interesting to see whether Yahoo! creates other IDEs which build upon the lessons learned from this one.
BTW, if you’d like more information about Pipes, these links should help: