Grabbing the JSON Description of a Yahoo Pipe from the Pipe Itself

In a series of recent posts, (The Yahoo Pipes Documentation Project – Initial Thoughts, Grabbing JSON Data from One Web Page and Displaying it in Another, . Starting to Think About a Yahoo Pipes Code Generator) I’ve started exploring some of the various ingredients that might be involved in documenting the structure of a Yahoo Pipe and potentially generating some programme code that will then implement a particular pipe.

One problem I’d come across was how to actually obtain the abstract description of a pipe. I’d found an appropriate Javascript object within an open Pipes editor, but getting that data out was a little laborious…

…and then came a comment on one of the posts from Paul Daniel/@hapdaniel, pointing me to a pipe that included a little trick he was aware of. A trick for grabbing the description of a pipe from a pipe’s feed (e.g.

Paul used something akin to this YPDP pipe’s internals pipe to grab the data from the info feed of a specified pipe (the URL of which has the form using YQL:

It’s just as easy to grab the JSON feed from YQL, e.g. using a query of the form:
select PIPE.working from json where url=”″. The pipe id is the id of the pipe you want the description of.

If you have a Yahoo account, you can try this for yourself in the YQL developer console:

We can then grab the JSON feed either from YQL or the YPDP pipe’s internals pipe into a web page and run whatever we want from it.

So for example, the demo service I have set up at will take an id argument containing the id of a pipe, and display a crude textual description of it. Like this:

So what’s next on the “to do” list? Firstly, I want to tidy up – and further unpack – the “documentation” that the above routine produces. Secondly, there’s the longer term goal of producing the code generator. If anyone fancies attacking that problem, you can get hold of the JSON description of a pipe from its ID using either the YPDP internals pipe or the YQL query that are shown above.

Author: Tony Hirst

I'm a Senior Lecturer at The Open University, with an interest in #opendata policy and practice, as well as general web tinkering...

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