Discover new design resources faster than Smashing Magazine: Use Yahoo Pipes

Ever since I first heard about Yahoo Pipes more than a year ago, I’ve been looking for reasons to put it to work for me. But for some reason or another, it always ended up in the “cool but of little use” category. Today I really hunkered down in the Pipe builder and set out to create the ultimate Design Resource RSS feed.

Here’s what’ll be happening in this post:
1. How the Pipe was built
2. How to customize the Pipe for yourself
3. I don’t care – just feed me design candy!

1. How the Pipe was Built

I was searching around for a hairy Illustrator art brush, and came to Deviant Art’s Illustrator Brush page. There were some cool brushes (and a lot of crap), but I made a mental note to visit the page more often to build my collection of Illustrator brushes. But really, let’s be honest, that was never going to happen. There are just two many squeaky wheels of coolness around the web these days for me to really have the time to check Deviant Art more often. Yahoo Pipes to the rescue!

So after many false starts, and a little help from from a fellow pipe builder, I was able to use the “Feed Auto Discover” module to fetch updates to a bunch of Deviant Art’s resource pages as RSS feeds with preview images. By default, Deviant Art’s RSS feed is text only, kinda defeating the purpose.

To add to Deviant Art’s resources I added another module, “Fetch Feed” and added design resource feeds from the Go Mediazine itself, Brusheezy, Vecteezy, and IHeartVector.

I piped all of these feeds into a “Union” module, then to a “Sort” module that sorted the resources by date published. Output to RSS and voila – a huge RSS feed of graphic design resources. Here’s what the final Pipe looked like:

And here’s what the output looked like in my trusty Google Reader:

The beauty of this feed is that I can stay up to date on new design resources published on all of these pages at once, and they come to me in one feed. That’s also the curse of it – too much to handle (and scrolling past a bunch of crap to get to the good stuff). That’s where customization comes in.

2. How to Customize the Pipe for Yourself

Well first you’re going to have to have a Yahoo account. If you have a Yahoo mail account or a Flickr account, you’ve got one already. So let’s get started and sign into Pipes:

Now, in the search box go ahead and type “Design Resource”. The Design Resource Megafeed should be the first result. Click “View Results”.

Now you should see a list of results returned from the Design Resource Megafeed. But you want to customize this, right? Then click on “Edit Source”.

Alright, we’re almost there. You should now see that mess of boxes and tubes like in the first screen shot in this guide. Here is where you’ll be editing the sources of the pipe so that it only outputs stuff you want to see. Don’t care about getting latest scoop of Illustrator Actions from Deviant Art? Then click the little ‘minus’ button to the left of the Illustrator Actions source.

Note: You’ll have to select the URL and scroll to the left to see the whole thing and figure out which is which.

Of course you don’t have to stop at removing sources. Add in your favorite sources not on this list to make it your own.

If you want to get real fancy you can set up a filter. In the left menu under Sources and and User Inputs, click Operators to unfold the modules. See ‘Filter’? That’s what we’ll use to further limit the list of design resources based on your preferences. Drag it into the editing space.

Personally, I don’t want to see any of the anime crap that Deviant Art is famous for (sorry anime fans). So, I set up my filter to block any posts that contain “anime” in the description.

Once I got the filter set up, I grabbed the output tube (Pipe) from the ‘Sort’ module and dragged it into the input circle of the ‘Filter’ module. Then, I connected the ‘Filter’ module to the ‘Output’ module in the same way.

And there you have it – your own customized design resource feed! This is what my final customized Pipe looks like:

3. I Don’t Care – Just Feed me Design Candy!

Okay already! Click for the Design Resource Megafeed
Click the RSS Button shown in the screen shot below to add to your favorite reader (which of course is Google Reader, right?).

Hope you enjoyed this little guide to Yahoo Pipes. If you use this Pipe to make an even sweeter mashup, be sure to link it here in the comments!