RSS is not dead, but Yahoo Pipes is: an overview of possible alternatives

Yahoo have recently announced they are sunsetting Yahoo Pipes, a sad but not entirely unexpected decision. One of the many awesome abilities of Pipes was that you could easily combine and manipulate multiple RSS feeds. This was great for creating a curated, multi-source RSS feed around a particular topic. What tool available still does this? A lot of people see IFTTT and Zapier as the nature successors to Pipes (and the Zapier founder readily admits the influence of Pipes on Zapier’s development ) but it doesn’t quite have the same emphasis on syndication that made Yahoo Pipes such a powerhouse as a current awareness tool. We've been looking at some of the tools that might fill the gap left by Yahoo Pipes and this is what we've found so far.

RSS Mix is a great, straightforward tool that let’s you easily combine multiple RSS feeds and outputs the combined feed in RSS or JSON. There’s no editing functionality available but it’s great for quickly putting together a master feed.

Chimpfeedr is a tool created by MailChimp that I hadn’t come across before. It’s mostly for Mailchimp’s RSS to Email functionality, but it does let you combine multiple RSS feeds.

Zapier Feed to Feed

IFTTT and Zapier both have an impressive list of RSS-related 'channels' or 'zaps' respectively but most of these are more about sharing the RSS feed content to other apps like email or social media. Zapier does have the option to create an RSS to RSS zap and this can be filtered but it seems to only let you manipulate one source feed so doesn’t really fit the bill.

Similarly, you can set up a trigger for RSS feeds in IFTTT that can either detect new items or new items that match certain criteria but this is mostly aimed at automating the sharing of this content. There are integrations available for RSS Readers like Feedly but there’s no clear way to combine feeds together and there's no RSS Action Channel.

Screenshot of Inoreader Adding rules to content bundles in Inoreader

Speaking of RSS readers, Inoreader has some pretty impressive features that let you find, generate and combine feeds into content bundles and even edit the feeds using rules and filters. It’s a freemium platform but even the free accounts are able to generate a combined RSS feed or an HTML clip to embed in a webpage (though you'll need to upgrade if you want to fully customise the HTML output).

Feedity is a commercial option that comes with a pretty impressive visual editor for feed content so worth checking out if you are looking for a visual approach.

FeedsAPI is another commercial option that has a similar approach but without the handy UI.

FiveFilters produce a lot of impressive apps (the Send to Kindle one being one of my favs) and their Feed Creator is a quick and easy way to create feeds from sites that may not have their own RSS available. You can also use Request parameters to manipulate the feeds (though this requires a bit of knowledge and/or trial and error about parsing content). As well as creating a feed for a website, you can create a combined feed from a list of URLs. This generates a simple RSS feed but does also tie into the ‘PDF Newspaper’ tool that FiveFilters produce. The supporting documentation available makes it easy to get started with and best of all, they have a self-hosted version available for purchase.

This is very much a whistle-stop tour of RSS tools that offer comparable functionality to Yahoo Pipes for our particular use case and it will of course depend on how you were using it. As well as feed tools, a lot of bookmarking apps (like Pocket, Pinboard and Wallabag) offer a way to share saved articles and other content via RSS feed so these can also make good current awareness tools (but that's probably a whole other blog post).

We haven’t yet settled on any of these as a replacement for Yahoo Pipes but so far we’ve found Inoreader, RSSMix and the FiveFilters Feed Creator to be pretty impressive tools. We'll continue testing and will report back any other valuable options that we stumble across in the search, but feel free to add additional suggestions in the comments.

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