First up, this isn’t a Java post, but it should be of interest to you as a Java developer. O’Reilly has many categories of blogs, but not (yet) a Web2-dev one. If your world view doesn’t include Web 2, RSS or online development tools then stop reading now.
Like many other people, I’ve been playing a bit with Yahoo pipes : Yahoo Pipes in 10 easy steps. It’s a very good example of a Web 2 tool . It’s beta, and does what it says on the tin ; It allows you to combine / filter / clone and edit RSS streams. In the same way SQL allows you to query a database, pipes allows you to query XML (or to be more precise RSS) streams for the data you want.
Yahoo Pipes is worth checking out for the following reasons:
- The user interface (finally) puts Gmail to shame. Just how do they generate the dynamic / curvy pipes linking the boxes?
- It’s completely graphic. Users with at a ‘power user of Excel’ level can generate streams that would previously have taken an experienced programmer a number of days.
- It’s another piece on the Web2 infrastructure. All other desktop apps have migrated to the web. It was just a matter of time before developer tools did as well. Does it make sense for you? Your call.
Pipes, for the reasons below, is not yet going to displace teams of Java people who do nothing but code RSS streams all day. Before, the choice on many IT projects was Build , Buy or use Open Source (or various combinations of those three). Online Web 2 apps (of which pipes is only one example) gives a fourth option to put into the mix.
So what does Yahoo pipes need to overcome the ‘toy’ label and become a ’serious’ option for IT projects?
- The problem is, it’s free.How do Yahoo intend making money out of Pipes? More accurately , will they make enough money so that my project can still use it in 3 years time.
- You’re stuck with Yahoo.Meaning, if you build against pipes, you’re stuck with them. Even in the database world, it is possible, if expensive to switch product supplier. I’d love Yahoo to open source pipes to solve this dilemma, and allow them to build a business around the ‘pipes hosting’ part.
- It’s completely graphic. This is mainly a good thing (see above), but no doubt you’d still like the option (like most developers) to see / edit the generated code.
- It’s hard to extend. If there is a way of extending it with my own ‘widgets’ , then I missed it. I can host RSS-generating code on my own server, but this detracts from pipes overall ease of use.
What do you think - will Yahoo Pipes become more than a toy to Java Developers?