Automation is great. Anything that can be done to reduce the amount of effort needed to achieve a goal is to be welcomed with open arms. We have looked at various tools that can be used to automate tasks you might carry out on a regular basis, including using Wappwolf to automate cloud storage and using IFTTT to automate backups.  Now we’ll show how IFTTT can be used in conjunction with Yahoo Pipes to create custom news feeds and alerts.

Yahoo Pipes is an often overlooked tool that can be used to bend and shape news feeds to meet your requirements. Even if there is a website you’re particularly keen on and you have taken the step of subscribing to its RSS feed, it is unlikely you’re going to be interested in every single post that is made – there may be some topics that you would like to avoid altogether.

Used on its own, Yahoo Pipes can be used to create your own custom RSS feeds. It is possible to combine multiple feeds from different sites into a single feed, and each separate feed can be filtered in a number of ways.

What this means is that it is possible to follow a site’s feed, but ensure that you only see the content you are interested in. Only interested in Android news? Set up a filter so that only Android related stories reach you. Want to know about everything but Linux? Build a pipe that filters out Linux related news.

Build A Pipe

Head over to the Yahoo Pipes website and sign into an existing Yahoo account, or create a new one (it’s also possible to sign in with Google and Facebook credentials). Click the ‘Create a pipe’ button at the top of the page and drag a Fetch Feed module from the Source section to the left onto the workspace.

Enter the URL of an RSS feed you’d like to work with – you can add several, so don’t spend ages deciding which one is going to be best. Each Fetch Feed module can be used to house  a single RSS feed, so  just keep adding as many as you need.

The point of creating a pipe is to design a feed that contains just the news you’re interested in, and this is where filtering comes into play. Expand the Operators section to the left and drag a Filter module onto the workspace – you can add one for each news feed you have added.

For this article, we’re going to filter news feeds so that only stories about iOS 7 and Play Station 4 are displayed. Select Permit from the first drop down menu in the Filter module and select ‘any’ from the second.

Set the first field to ‘item.title’ make sure that the second field is set to Contains and then use the final field to specify your search or filter terms. You can add more filters by clicking the + icon next to Rules to build up a custom feed for individual sites.

Having set up filters for one feed, the Filter module needs to be connected to the relevant Fetch Feed module. This can be done by simply dragging the node at the bottom of Fetch Feed to the node at the top of Filter.

Set up all of the filters you would like to use for each of the feeds you have chosen to work with and make sure that all of the modules are linked to allow for filtering. It is possible to combine feeds before filtering, but this does not allow for such finely grained filtering; you may not be interested in news about both iOS7 and Play Station 4 from one particular site, for instance.

Complete your pipe by dragging a Union module from the Operators section to the left and then linking it up to each of the Filter modules. The Union Module also needs to be connected to the top of the Pipe Output at the bottom of the workspace.

Click Save at the upper right of the page, enter a name for the Pipe and click Save. With the pipe saved, click the Run Pipe link that appears at the very top of the page. You can then grab the newly created RSS feed from the ‘Get as RSS’ link.

Monitoring With IFTTT

You could use the likes of Google Reader to manually monitor your feed, but you can also make use of IFTTT so you can be alerted when new articles appear. Pay a visit to the IFTTT website and log into or create an account. Click the Create link at the top of the page.

Click ‘this’ and then click the Feed icon. As we’re interested in being notified when articles matching specific terms appear, click ‘New feed item matches’. Selecting this option opens up the possibility of creating multiples rules to deal with different types of article – you may want to be notified via email of news stories about iOS 7, but you may prefer to add PS4 related stories to Instapaper.

Enter the term that should be used as the trigger and then paste in the URL of the RSS feed created in Yahoo Pipes. Click Create Trigger.

Click the ‘that’ link followed by Email. Click ‘Send me an email’, choose how the email should be formatted and click Create Action (the email will be sent to the address associated with your IFTTT account). Enter a description and click Create.

You can then repeat the process, this time selecting the Feed trigger and Instapaper action for articles that include reference to PS4, or whatever you have tailored your feed towards.

Have you managed to find a great use for IFTTT and Yahoo Pipes? Share your thoughts in the commends below.

Profile Photo for Mark Wyciślik-Wilson Mark Wyciślik-Wilson
Mark Wyciślik-Wilson is a software fiend and a fan of the new, shiny, and intriguing. His work has appeared everywhere from TechRadar and BetaNews to Lifehacker UK.
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