Web managers: Here’s how you can use Yahoo Pipes to create custom content feeds and data mashups. Possible uses:
- Create a single RSS feed that combines information from national, state, and local health agencies
- Create your own H1N1 specific RSS feed by filtering your general news feed for H1N1 related stories.
- Create embeddable widgets of your H1N1 content and offer them to your local partner organizations.
What is it?
Yahoo Pipes is a web application that provides a user-friendly interface for building data mashups that aggregate web feeds, web pages, and other services. The results are then available for use in a number of easy to implement formats for publishing on your website. Pipes works by enabling users to grab information from various sources around the web and organize how that content should be filtered and sorted.
Pipes is a powerful tool (and addictive, so watch out!). Stations can use the service to mashup data, feeds, photos and content from all over the web. But what Pipes can produce is only as good as the information that goes into it. With the H1N1 pandemic, there has been a lack of official data and information about the number of cases.
How do I use it?
First, you need to register for a Yahoo Pipes account.
For a quick and easy demonstration on using Pipes, here is how you can combine multiple RSS feeds into a single feed to display on your station site. Take the example screenshot below. Here we have selected 3 H1N1 related RSS feeds, one each from the CDC, Flu.gov and the WHO. We entered the RSS feed urls into Pipes using the Fetch Feed tool. We then added an Operator (think of it as an organizing rule) to the output feed. In this case, we sorted the feed items in descending order based on publishing date.
Then we run the pipe and view the results on the Pipes website. You are able to export the results in a number of way, including RSS, JSON, and an embed widget code.
The output options allow you to display your Pipes content in a number of ways. For quick H1N1 additions to your website, you can display headlines from the RSS feed or embed the Badge output on your homepage sidebar. The badge option provides a scrolling list of stories and brief descriptions (example screenshot to the right).
Get Local: A great use of Pipes is combining H1N1 feeds from local, state, and national health agencies. Take a look at this H1N1 Pipe for the state of California. You’ll see that we took the H1N1 RSS feed from the CDC and combined it with the RSS feed for the California Department of Health. However, the California RSS feed is not H1N1 specific, so we had to filter the feed to display only stories that have the term “H1N1″ in either the title or description. Then we combinded those feeds to create one content output. If your local town or city has an RSS feed, you could add to create a national, state, local feed RSS trifecta.
An important tip in learning to use Yahoo Pipes: You’re able to view the source of any existing Pipe. Here’s the source page for our example Pipe above. Users have the option to “clone” the any Pipe and modify it to fit your project. Think of it as letting someone else build the frame of the house, and then you can come in the decide which rooms go where. You are welcome to use any of the Pipes we have created for FluPortal, clone them and brand them for your station. But we also encourage you to use existing Pipes as a launching point for building your own Pipes to fit your H1N1 coverage.