Yahoo Pipes Insider's Tips: Custom RSS Feeds: Page 2

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URL Builder Module: Parameters within an RSS Feed

Sadri recommends that users explore the URL Builder Module, which he says is one of Pipes’s more powerful modules. This module allows users to access data beyond the usual RSS feeds that many Pipes users access.

Typically, Sadri notes, Pipes users find an RSS feed and copy and paste it into a Pipes Fetch module to get that data. However, some RSS feeds accept parameters.

“For example, again, Craigslist. If you do a search in Craigslist, at the URL for the RSS feed, you’ll see that there is a parameter, like ‘Q = your search term.’ This offers a lot of possibilities. Because if you could build that URL dynamically you can get the remote service to build different types of data for you.”

In the case of Craigslist Apartments, the location parameter is a user input, and whatever value the user enters is used with the URL builder module to construct a URL dynamically. That value is then used to fetch something from Craigslist.

Many online services offer this type of search interface, Sadri says, such as databases of real estate or stocks, or blog search services.

Dynamic Date Manipulation

One pipe building technique that’s not yet very well known, Sadri says, is the relative date parameter. (A lot of people have asked for data manipulation, he notes.)

Pipes allows input of not just exact dates, like April 1, 2007, but also accepts relative dates. So you can specify ‘two weeks from now,’ or ‘two days ago.’ This relative date parameter translates to an actual date at the time the pipe is executed. Using this technique, you can construct queries that change over time.

“Let’s say you want to look for events that are happening within the next few days,” Sadri says. “You have a source of events but you want to filter it, based on dates so that it’s always two or three days in the future. If you had used a hardcoded date you’d always have to come back and update your pipes. But with this dynamic date input, you can say ‘three days in the future’ and it will compute three days in the future.”

User Votes Make a Difference

Pipes has a Suggestion Board that Sadri says the Yahoo developers pay a lot of attention to.

(Note that you can view the Suggestion Board by “Most Recent” post or “Most Rated” post – this latter option shows you the updates that users are clamoring for.)

“We are actually paying attention to the number of votes that people have assigned to different features, and using that to prioritize the sequence of how we work on new features,” Sadri says. “It’s not a guarantee, because some of them are harder than others. So it’s a mixture of how easy it is to roll out and how much demand there is for it.”

He encourages people to post to the Board if they want a new module or an enhancement to an existing one. “And we’ll try to address it as soon as possible.”

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