Tag Archives: Yahoo! Pipes

How to create a custom meta-search in Yahoo! Pipes

Here’s another tutorial on the mashup platform Yahoo! Pipes, showing how you can use it to create a meta-search that will push any search term by the user through a number of search engines, and present you with a combined result (and RSS feed). A finished version of the pipe can be seen here.

This tutorial builds on a previous post I published on how to create basic mashups with Yahoo! Pipes. If you haven’t any knowledge of Pipes you should probably read that first.

How to create a custom meta-search in Yahoo! Pipes

First, you obviously need to log in to Yahoo! Pipes, and click on Create a Pipe. You’ll be taken to the Pipe editing interface: on the left will be a menu with a series of sections (User Input, Url, Operators, etc.) to choose modules from. In the centre will be the canvas where you create your pipe – and at the bottom a ‘Debugger’ area where you can see the results of any particular part of your pipe.

In the area on the left, under the ‘User Input’ section, click on the ‘Text Input‘ module and drag it onto the canvas (or you can click on the + sign for it to be placed for you).

Select the Text Input module

Select the Text Input module

In the box marked ‘Prompt’ type the instruction text for users of the pipe, e.g. ‘What do you want to search for?’. If there’s a default search you want to have appear in the search box to begin with, enter it in the box marked ‘Default’. Continue reading

How to make interactive geographical timelines using Google Calendar and Yahoo Pipes

I was recently given a task where my job was to create a calendar holding around 50 events. Each event also needed to be mapped, and have a corresponding blog post.

Mapping calendar entries made me think, if this could be used for other stuff than simply putting events on a map, – which is quite useful in it’s own way. I thought it would be cool if you could create an interactive map-timeline, controlled dynamically by a (shared)calendar.

Yahoo Pipes by default uses Yahoo Maps, which is great when it comes to narratives. As you can see from the map below (If you don’t see it, click here), each entry has a little arrow that let’s you navigate from marker to marker in a specific order. Each marker also has a number indicating it’s place in a sequence. This is nothing more than entries in a Google Calender with time/date stamps, geo info and a description, mapped automatically using Yahoo Pipes.


Here’s how you do it.

1. Create a Google Calendar

Simply go to your Google Calendar and create or import a new calendar. You can do this from the settings page under calendars.

2. Make it public

You need to make the calendar public, otherwise Yahoo Pipes won’t have access to it. You can do this while you create it, or afterwards by ticking the box ‘Make this calendar public’ from the sharing settings on your specific calendar. To access the settings for a specific calendar, you click the little arrow in the box on the left hand side that contains your calendars (My Calendars).

3. Create events

Now you simply start adding events to your calendar. Specify what happened, where it happened, when and add the description. You don’t have to add the entries chronologically, they will be sorted by date/time automatically.

4. Feed the iCal file to the Pipe

Go to your calendar settings page, not the general Calendar settings, but the settings for your specific calendar. You will see a section called ‘Calendar address’ with three buttons. Click the green ICAL button and copy the link that pops up. Now go to Mapping Google Calendar Events Pipe and paste it into the ‘Calendar iCal URL’ field and hit ‘Run Pipe’. – Your events are now mapped.

5. Embed on your website

To embed the timeline/map on your website, simply select ‘Get as badge’ just above the map. This will allow you to insert it on your blog or website.

I’m sure there are ways to make this more stable. So if you know how to optimize the pipe, please feel free to do so and let me know.

As Google Maps is already a part of Google Calendar, you would think that there was a nifty way to quickly put a whole calendar on a map, but no. And after failing to use what looked like a saviour, I bumped into a post by Tony Hurst on how to display Google Calendar events on a Google Map. Unfortunately it turns out that the XML feed Tony uses, only parses the 25 most recent calendar entries.

Google Calendar releases their event-entries in iCal format which contains all events. And with a little customization of Tony’s pipe, I managed to come up with a way to map all events from a calendar.

I think this could be potentially useful for developing stories, especially if you can collaborate on the calendar. You end up with data that can be used for nearly anything, not just maps. And if locations aren’t relevant for the story, you could simply take your iCal file and make a normal timeline.

Are you a journalist using Yahoo! Pipes?

How widely is Yahoo! Pipes used in newsrooms? Could it be better used? Is there a way us Piping Journos could exchange best practice, ideas, and support?

I’d like to bring journalists using Yahoo! Pipes together, so I’ve created a little Twitter group. Hope you can join, and we can find some ways to help each other out.

If you’re not using Pipes or would still like a primer, here’s one I prepared earlier.

Maps, mashups and multimedia: online journalism students tackle interactivity

Alice Fanning's map of UK eco stories

Alice Fanning's map of UK eco stories

As a new semester begins it seems a good time to finally post about how my second year journalism degree students approached the ‘interactive’ element of their portfolio way back in May (yes, everything they do is interactive, but bear with me).

For the first time I gave them an open brief in terms of what they did interactively (in previous years I asked them to produce Flash interactives). Having been taught how to create everything from audio slideshows and image maps to multimedia interactives, Google Maps and Yahoo! Pipes mashups, I was curious to see what they would pick. Would they all plump for the same option? Continue reading

Mashups at the Liverpool Post: Yahoo Pipes for fashionistas

It’s nice when you host some training and something of use comes out of it. Alison Gow, who recently attended my Social Media for Breaking News training, has used it to build a Yahoo Pipe. It “filters all the latest news, photos and quality blog posts from the world of Fashion for the Girls Behaving Stylishly team to place on their blog as a widget, and to help them spot trends quickly without having to trawl the web.”

Her post is worth reading if you’re interested in doing it yourself, littered as it is with useful red arrow-laden screengrabs.

2 ways to get SMS text messages from Twitter – what are yours?

As soon as Twitter dumped SMS alerts for most of the world, a bunch of us started trying to find workaround solutions that would allow us to still get text messages from Twitter. After much fiddling, online discussion and frustration, I’ve come up with two solutions that seem to work: Continue reading