Yahoo Pipes Tutorial for Feed Mixing

Yahoo Pipes is a tool that we’ve covered a few times here on Slaw. And having fielded a few questions myself on its use for RSS feed mixing, I thought it might be nice to demonstrate how simple the process is with a tutorial.

What you’ll find below is pretty granular in detail, with way too many screen captures. But if you like the KISS principle (a.k.a. Keep It Simple for Steve), a little hand-holding never hurts. So… go over to Yahoo Pipes, create an account, click on the big blue Create A Pipe, and let’s get started!

Step One – Adding the Components:

The first step is to add three items into your edit window: fetch feed, sort, & truncate.

1a) From the Sources drop down, drag Fetch Feed onto your screen:


1b) From the Operators drop down, drag Sort onto your screen:


1c) Also from the Operators drop down, drag Truncate onto your screen:


1d) By default the Pipes Output component should already be there:


Step Two – Configure the Components:

2a) Focusing on the Fetch Feed component, click on the ‘+’ sign next to the word URL to add the exact number of source feeds you want to add to the mix. Of course, clicking on the ‘-‘ sign will get rid of unwanted fields.


Then copy in the URL for each feed source. In this example, I’m mixing the feed for Slaw post entries, with the feed for Slaw comments.


2b) Now we’ll configure the Sort component. For reference purposes, it’s the one highlighted in orange below.


Click on the drop down for the list of fields, and sort by the item date (a.k.a. item.pubDate). And then switch the order drop down from ascending to descending. Like this:


2c) Then change the Truncate component to limit the size of the end product. I chose ’50’, but it could be bigger or smaller.

Step Three – Connect the Components:

Now the fun part! We want to connect the chain of components, going from Feed Fetch to Sort to Truncate to Pipe Output. Simply put your mouse over the bottom of one component and then click & drag the blue ‘pipe’ to the top of the next component. The end product will look like this:

Step Four – The Big Finish:

Click ‘Save’ in the top right corner – the greyed out button in this image:


Which should cause a new link to become available. Run Pipe should now be in the top-middle part of your screen.


Congratulations! You’ve just created your first Yahoo Pipe!

And now that you’ve read all this, I’m going to tell you a secret … on the top of the each published Pipe’s homepage is a button that says ‘Clone’ – which will allow you to copy the handywork of others, including our sample Slaw test pipe, and not have to create things from scratch!

Bonus Advice:

Now that you’ve got a pipe, what are you going to do with it? In a world where lawyers all had personal RSS readers, you could simply hand over the pipe’s RSS feed. But in reality, my best advice is to re-publish it, either on your firm’s intranet, or to the public-web. And to do that, you will need two things: 1) the feed and 2) a publishing tool.

To get a Pipe’s RSS feed, go to the Pipe’s homepage – see our example here. Then, click on ‘More Options‘, and select Get as RSS. Copy that page’s URL from the address bar.

To re-publish the feed, there are lots of great tools. See Feedburner (using their BuzzBoost feature to re-publish), Springwidgets, Grazr, or for a very simple bulleted list without branding, try

And that’s it!



  1. Thanks for the Grazr mention!

    Did you know you can do feed blending, mixing and filtering directly with Grazr?

    The steps are, get a free hosting account. Then upload your subscription list from your feed reader (or other tool). Optionally you can then use our drag and drop editor to modify the list. Lastly you click “Create stream”, choose filters and other options, and it will blend the feeds together. I find it a lot easier than pipes, but then I’m biased. :)

    You can get the output as a feed as well as a widget directly.

  2. I think this solution, using blogger, might be easier for most people who simply want to replace their blogroll with live entries to show on their own blog

    What do you think?

  3. Michael,

    This looks like a good fit for those on blogger, with the intent of creating a live blogroll. By comparison, my tutorial was more intended for the collection developers in the crowd. Librarians & info-types looking to mass-filter content for select audiences.

    If the intent is to mix a large number of sources, either for raw output or for concept filtering, then I would still rely on Pipes.

  4. What about the use of feedity, which allows some filtering?

    I am going to try your idea out, I will let you know.

  5. Michael, Feedity is for websites that don’t have an RSS feed available. It produces a feed by watching for types of code within the page (ie a bulleted list). Then it pulls the new items out of the page, and creates a feed for the new content.

    That feed could then be plugged into a pipe like this, or just consumed in your RSS feed reader.

    For filtering, check out the filter module in Pipes. You can block or allow posts based on keywords.