It’s All About Flow…

One of the compelling features of Yahoo Pipes for me is the way the the user interface encourages you think of programming in terms of pipelines and feeds, in which a bundle of stuff (RSS feed, CSV data, or whatever) is processed in a sequence of steps (the pipeline), with each step being applied to each item in the feed.

A few days ago I blogged about pipe2py, a toolkit from Greg Gaughan that lets you “compile” a simple Yahoo pipe into a Python code equivalent programme (Yahoo Pipes Code Generator (Python)). Given that, in general, I don’t believe the “build it and they will come” mantra, I spent half an hour or so this morning looking round the web for people who had posted queries about how to generate code equivalents of Yahoo Pipes, so that I could point them to pipe2py.

In doing so, I came across a couple of other visual pipeline environments that are maybe worth looking at in a little more detail.

PyF is a “[flow based] open source Python programming framework and platform dedicated to large data processing, mining, transforming, reporting and more.”

PyF - flow based pythin programming

On the other hand, Orange claims to offer “[o]pen source data visualization and analysis for novice and experts. Data mining through visual programming or Python scripting. Components for machine learning. Extensions for bioinformatics and text mining. Packed with features for data analytics.”

Here’s one of their promo shots:

Orange - piped visual data analysis

I haven’t had a chance to play with either of these environments – and probably won’t for a little time yet – so whilst I feel like I’m cheating by posting about them in such a cursory way without having even a simple demo to show, they’re maybe of interest to anyone who stumbles across this blog by way of pipe2py… [Update: my Orange Visualisation tool review).]

PS as well as PyF, see also: Pypes [via @dartdog]

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...

5 thoughts on “It’s All About Flow…”

  1. For those of us working on pipelines, systems like these make a lot of sense. Who knew they were already out there, actively under development? Thanks for taking the time to look them up and post.

    1. No probs:-) I guess you’re familiar with XProc, too? (Been some time since I had a look at that… Ooh, it seems to be a @3C recommendation now…. Is there a Deri Pipes/wireit like visual environment compliant with the XProc standard, I wonder, that actually works…? )

      So what sorts of things are you working on?

  2. Great post! I completely agree that the way they setup Yahoo Pipes really gets you thinking about the different steps in the programming sequence. I find it also helps me plan out what I want to do, a lot better. Plus it makes it easier for people with no programming experience to mashup RSS feeds and content from around the web.

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