Comparison of Yahoo Pipes to Microsoft’s PopFly

I haven’t seen many comparisons yet of the new Mashup Editors so Jay Neely’s stuck out when he told me about it today. He compares Yahoo Pipes to Microsoft’s PopFly and also does an early analysis of Google’s Mashup Editor.

How about you? Have you tried any of the new RSS Mashup Editors? What do you think of them?

On Thursday I was talking with Mark Lucovsky at Google and he was explaining why Google’s Mashup Editor doesn’t yet have the flashy UI that PopFly has. He reminded me of my experience with FrontPage and how that frustrated me everytime I hit a limitation of its editor. I’d drop into HTML, try to change things, and then the code would change or I’d be frustrated because it wouldn’t let me do what I wanted. Lucovsky says that’s why the Google Mashup Editor team hasn’t done a flashy UI yet. It’s the philosophy of the Google teams: to make sure you’ll always be able to do what you want to do and then put the purty UI onto it later to make it easier to use.

Sounds interesting, but wonder what the real devs who are playing with these tools are thinking? Of course I can already hear what Lucovsky is thinking: what are the new devs who are 14 to 20 thinking?

Comments

  1. There are plenty of good GUI and code HTML toolsets, Dreamweaver for one. Frontpage, was a half decent early internet app, bought out by Microsoft, smushed together with the usual Microsoft hobbled code, output royal-buggy mismatched disaster. What frustrated you about Frontpage, was well Frontpage, don’t blame the GUI. Blame Microsoft.

    Google seemingly can’t do a real GUI app, so low functionality hobbled HTMLish AJAXy crap, is what they serve up. And the blog and geek kiddies eat all the regressive de-evolutionary junk up. Back to the Stone Age Future.

  2. There are plenty of good GUI and code HTML toolsets, Dreamweaver for one. Frontpage, was a half decent early internet app, bought out by Microsoft, smushed together with the usual Microsoft hobbled code, output royal-buggy mismatched disaster. What frustrated you about Frontpage, was well Frontpage, don’t blame the GUI. Blame Microsoft.

    Google seemingly can’t do a real GUI app, so low functionality hobbled HTMLish AJAXy crap, is what they serve up. And the blog and geek kiddies eat all the regressive de-evolutionary junk up. Back to the Stone Age Future.

  3. That Lucovsky is really saying is that at Google (as in many other companies) the engineers rule and the UI is an afterthought. This is a really stupid way to design software — you can’t just slap a “purty UI” on top of whatever the engineers built and expect it to be usable. You have to be thinking about usability all the way through.

    More often than not, this happens when the engineers don’t WANT to work with anyone other than their fellow engineers. Or they just want to design it for themselves and the way they’d want the UI to be for their own use.

    This is an incredibly important lesson that the rest of the industry ought to learn from Apple’s success.

  4. That Lucovsky is really saying is that at Google (as in many other companies) the engineers rule and the UI is an afterthought. This is a really stupid way to design software — you can’t just slap a “purty UI” on top of whatever the engineers built and expect it to be usable. You have to be thinking about usability all the way through.

    More often than not, this happens when the engineers don’t WANT to work with anyone other than their fellow engineers. Or they just want to design it for themselves and the way they’d want the UI to be for their own use.

    This is an incredibly important lesson that the rest of the industry ought to learn from Apple’s success.

  5. Christopher: I was a Frontpage user before Microsoft bought Vermeer. It was bad before and after Microsoft bought it (at least when it came to messing with hand-coded HTML). By the way, the new FrontPage (now called Expression) doesn’t mess with your code at all. It’s really a great place to develop Web sites in. Except I’ve moved my life over to WordPress and don’t really care about hand-coding anymore.
    Kevin: I agree with you, but also with Mark and I’m not doing his point of view justice, either. The two tools are developed with vastly different philosophies, though, and it’ll be interesting to see which philosophy works in the marketplace.

  6. Christopher: I was a Frontpage user before Microsoft bought Vermeer. It was bad before and after Microsoft bought it (at least when it came to messing with hand-coded HTML). By the way, the new FrontPage (now called Expression) doesn’t mess with your code at all. It’s really a great place to develop Web sites in. Except I’ve moved my life over to WordPress and don’t really care about hand-coding anymore.
    Kevin: I agree with you, but also with Mark and I’m not doing his point of view justice, either. The two tools are developed with vastly different philosophies, though, and it’ll be interesting to see which philosophy works in the marketplace.

  7. “On Thursday I was talking with Mark Lucovsky at Google and he was explaining why Google’s Mashup Editor doesn’t yet have the flashy UI that PopFly has.”

    Did he flinch when you pulled up the chair to sit down?
    Is he still traumatized?

    BTW, I think popfly and pipes look neat, but still prefer Google reader.

  8. “On Thursday I was talking with Mark Lucovsky at Google and he was explaining why Google’s Mashup Editor doesn’t yet have the flashy UI that PopFly has.”

    Did he flinch when you pulled up the chair to sit down?
    Is he still traumatized?

    BTW, I think popfly and pipes look neat, but still prefer Google reader.

  9. Chris: I’ve interviewed him before. He didn’t flinch. In the least. The dude is darn smart. You should check into what he did before he worked at Microsoft.

    Oh, you mean did Ballmer throw a chair? Not sure.

  10. Chris: I’ve interviewed him before. He didn’t flinch. In the least. The dude is darn smart. You should check into what he did before he worked at Microsoft.

    Oh, you mean did Ballmer throw a chair? Not sure.

  11. I am not familiar with the other tools in this space, but I wrote up my quick first impression of how Popfly works.

    I do know what you mean about FrontPage not quite getting what you want done. Poply does allow you to enter an ‘Advanced Area’ of a block so you can access and revise the code directly. The site also talks about interaction of Popfly with Visual Studio.

    Even though the interface is one of the main methods of interaction with Popfly it is by no means the only. If you need to you can get under the hood and do what you need.

    This to me is one of the definitions of a good application. It should initially be relatively easy to use, so you can get started right away. There should also be additional functionality that allows you to manage more facets of the application as you get more experienced.

    Unexperienced users can continue to use the Popfly interface to create and manage their objects. More advanced can integrate their work in Visual Studio for additional functionality.

    One thing I have noticed is you that quite a few people are starting to get some good samples going.

  12. I am not familiar with the other tools in this space, but I wrote up my quick first impression of how Popfly works.

    I do know what you mean about FrontPage not quite getting what you want done. Poply does allow you to enter an ‘Advanced Area’ of a block so you can access and revise the code directly. The site also talks about interaction of Popfly with Visual Studio.

    Even though the interface is one of the main methods of interaction with Popfly it is by no means the only. If you need to you can get under the hood and do what you need.

    This to me is one of the definitions of a good application. It should initially be relatively easy to use, so you can get started right away. There should also be additional functionality that allows you to manage more facets of the application as you get more experienced.

    Unexperienced users can continue to use the Popfly interface to create and manage their objects. More advanced can integrate their work in Visual Studio for additional functionality.

    One thing I have noticed is you that quite a few people are starting to get some good samples going.

  13. I know what he did at Microsoft.
    I have to ask this.

    Mark, if you are reading, were you afraid he was going to hit you at some point when he was threatening to kill Google and calling your CEO a vagina?

    Was he red faced and violent?

    We’ve all heard so much about this incident, I think it would be nice to get a first hand account. I’m aware he’s doing great things now at Google, and I use Google tools every day so I’m super thankful for that. BUT When the common person reads about him though or sees his name in print, they are instantly jolted back to September 2005 where the CEO of the fictional film antitrust was brought to life with Mark’s account of the Microsoft executive Steve Ballmer gone insane in a fit of jealous rage.

  14. I know what he did at Microsoft.
    I have to ask this.

    Mark, if you are reading, were you afraid he was going to hit you at some point when he was threatening to kill Google and calling your CEO a vagina?

    Was he red faced and violent?

    We’ve all heard so much about this incident, I think it would be nice to get a first hand account. I’m aware he’s doing great things now at Google, and I use Google tools every day so I’m super thankful for that. BUT When the common person reads about him though or sees his name in print, they are instantly jolted back to September 2005 where the CEO of the fictional film antitrust was brought to life with Mark’s account of the Microsoft executive Steve Ballmer gone insane in a fit of jealous rage.

  15. The designer/code relationship we have in Popfly is similar to the one in Visual Studio. You can drag-drop to your heart’s content and/or jump into code. There are mashups where people layout the big pieces using the designer and then tweak it with a few lines of Javascript.

    On the other hand, if you’re feeling geeky, you can do everything in code. We have some basic syntax highlighting and intellisense currently to help you write code on the site. It’s nowhere close to VS of course but then, we’re just getting started :-)

  16. The designer/code relationship we have in Popfly is similar to the one in Visual Studio. You can drag-drop to your heart’s content and/or jump into code. There are mashups where people layout the big pieces using the designer and then tweak it with a few lines of Javascript.

    On the other hand, if you’re feeling geeky, you can do everything in code. We have some basic syntax highlighting and intellisense currently to help you write code on the site. It’s nowhere close to VS of course but then, we’re just getting started :-)

  17. Hey Robert, thanks for the link! I’d love to talk with you more if you use any of these for some of the purposes I wrote about. If I implement anything really useful myself I’ll send you an e-mail about it.

    Best,
    Jay

  18. Hey Robert, thanks for the link! I’d love to talk with you more if you use any of these for some of the purposes I wrote about. If I implement anything really useful myself I’ll send you an e-mail about it.

    Best,
    Jay

  19. @7, Yes I read scoble from time to time…

    Someone on minimsft asked me to tell more as well so I won’t repeat the comments that have already been written here:

    http://minimsft.blogspot.com/2007/04/and-youre-microsoft-shareholder-because.html#comment-567439975460739278
    http://minimsft.blogspot.com/2007/04/and-youre-microsoft-shareholder-because.html#comment-8135986459981456420

    Was I afraid of Steve? Nope. Anyone who knows steve or bill well know that they both can get animated. Just like all of us. Steve lost his temper. He is human after all. Our legal system and the press sometimes forget this though…

  20. @7, Yes I read scoble from time to time…

    Someone on minimsft asked me to tell more as well so I won’t repeat the comments that have already been written here:

    http://minimsft.blogspot.com/2007/04/and-youre-microsoft-shareholder-because.html#comment-567439975460739278
    http://minimsft.blogspot.com/2007/04/and-youre-microsoft-shareholder-because.html#comment-8135986459981456420

    Was I afraid of Steve? Nope. Anyone who knows steve or bill well know that they both can get animated. Just like all of us. Steve lost his temper. He is human after all. Our legal system and the press sometimes forget this though…

  21. “If Microsoft’s BOD wants to let Steve go it should be for mis-managing the company.”

    A. Can you elaborate anymore?

    “Yes. I am still a shareholder. Not because I think Microsoft will experience an explosive growth spurt. Instead because I am lazy and my ESPP that I purchased over the years is all I have left.”

    B. Did you finally sell the shares to avoid any conflict of interest with your new position?

  22. “If Microsoft’s BOD wants to let Steve go it should be for mis-managing the company.”

    A. Can you elaborate anymore?

    “Yes. I am still a shareholder. Not because I think Microsoft will experience an explosive growth spurt. Instead because I am lazy and my ESPP that I purchased over the years is all I have left.”

    B. Did you finally sell the shares to avoid any conflict of interest with your new position?

  23. @11

    a) There is nothing for me to elaborate on. What I was saying, if you read the entire thread, is that no one should call for steve to be fired because of this incident. IF steve is going to get fired, it should be for failure to perform his duties as a ceo. I am in no position to judge him on this and neither are any of you. Thats something that the BOD is responsible for.

    b) Boy are you out of touch with reality… Owning some stock in a random technology company hardly creates a conflict of interest.

  24. @11

    a) There is nothing for me to elaborate on. What I was saying, if you read the entire thread, is that no one should call for steve to be fired because of this incident. IF steve is going to get fired, it should be for failure to perform his duties as a ceo. I am in no position to judge him on this and neither are any of you. Thats something that the BOD is responsible for.

    b) Boy are you out of touch with reality… Owning some stock in a random technology company hardly creates a conflict of interest.

  25. “If Microsoft’s BOD wants to let Steve go it should be for mis-managing the company.”

    Thanks for clearing that up. The context in which you made this statement almost makes it sound like you are suggesting that he is in fact mis-managing the company and that the BOD *should* in fact let him go for that legitimate reason, instead of his profane and colorful outburst at your meeting with him.

    “Boy are you out of touch with reality… Owning some stock in a random technology company hardly creates a conflict of interest.”

    Reality is subjective. I think that minimizing the question by qualifying your stock as “some stock” in some disparate company, when it is in fact stock in a company you worked at for quite a while and were a senior member of; which is also a direct competitor to the company where you work now, is evasive at best.

    BUT

    At least you took the time to deflect the light rays, and for that I thank you.

  26. “If Microsoft’s BOD wants to let Steve go it should be for mis-managing the company.”

    Thanks for clearing that up. The context in which you made this statement almost makes it sound like you are suggesting that he is in fact mis-managing the company and that the BOD *should* in fact let him go for that legitimate reason, instead of his profane and colorful outburst at your meeting with him.

    “Boy are you out of touch with reality… Owning some stock in a random technology company hardly creates a conflict of interest.”

    Reality is subjective. I think that minimizing the question by qualifying your stock as “some stock” in some disparate company, when it is in fact stock in a company you worked at for quite a while and were a senior member of; which is also a direct competitor to the company where you work now, is evasive at best.

    BUT

    At least you took the time to deflect the light rays, and for that I thank you.

  27. Mark, just so you know this is my reality:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/8606487@N03/

    I sell outsourced software contracts to Canada as well as write obscure high-end enterprise software. 1% of that includes Microsoft technology. Nobody ever even boots to Windows for any reason at our place. It’s been like this since 2005.
    Microsoft could blow up tomorrow and it would not effect us. I’m also in FSF, ITAC and PHP Quebec. Nothing I do really touches MS, so they are pretty irrelevant to me as far as using their products at work or home. Same with Google except for search.

    Any future time you wonder: where is he coming from? That’s where. My reality is Eclispe, Websphere, Netbeans, Beryl and Linux. I have no idea what you all are doing in “Cali”, and I could care less. I only know what I read online, and I read quite a bit about your court statements. People made a REALLY big deal about it back in 05.

  28. Mark, just so you know this is my reality:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/8606487@N03/

    I sell outsourced software contracts to Canada as well as write obscure high-end enterprise software. 1% of that includes Microsoft technology. Nobody ever even boots to Windows for any reason at our place. It’s been like this since 2005.
    Microsoft could blow up tomorrow and it would not effect us. I’m also in FSF, ITAC and PHP Quebec. Nothing I do really touches MS, so they are pretty irrelevant to me as far as using their products at work or home. Same with Google except for search.

    Any future time you wonder: where is he coming from? That’s where. My reality is Eclispe, Websphere, Netbeans, Beryl and Linux. I have no idea what you all are doing in “Cali”, and I could care less. I only know what I read online, and I read quite a bit about your court statements. People made a REALLY big deal about it back in 05.

  29. We’ve been using Yahoo! Pipes for the back end of our FeedBlitz-based newsletter for a couple of months, it was relatively easy to build in spite of very limited documentation and operates very smoothly. It gets hung up on relative timestamps, though, which can be a pain. Take a peek here at how we do it:
    http://pipes.yahoo.com/pipes/person.info?eyuid=pIAERZQ5p2v5ztCjNAQ6QmjVmVI-

    PopFly sounds like a widget machine, whereas Yahoo! Pipes is a feed machine. Different strokes for different folks.

    I agree that Google seems to be fairly clueless about interfaces at times, but it’s not as if it’s slowed them down much – so far.

    All the best,
    John Blossom

  30. We’ve been using Yahoo! Pipes for the back end of our FeedBlitz-based newsletter for a couple of months, it was relatively easy to build in spite of very limited documentation and operates very smoothly. It gets hung up on relative timestamps, though, which can be a pain. Take a peek here at how we do it:
    http://pipes.yahoo.com/pipes/person.info?eyuid=pIAERZQ5p2v5ztCjNAQ6QmjVmVI-

    PopFly sounds like a widget machine, whereas Yahoo! Pipes is a feed machine. Different strokes for different folks.

    I agree that Google seems to be fairly clueless about interfaces at times, but it’s not as if it’s slowed them down much – so far.

    All the best,
    John Blossom

  31. It’s nice Google puts functionality before flashy UI. But why are they forgetting to put a decent UI in place after they’ve finished the functionality??

  32. It’s nice Google puts functionality before flashy UI. But why are they forgetting to put a decent UI in place after they’ve finished the functionality??

  33. @Rob Sanders

    Google Reader works well. If I was going to build a web based RSS cobbler, I would have done it just as they did. Yahoo Pipes is slow to load, and Microsoft’s is just clusterfck abomination. As is often the case when they try to combine 80 different MS technologies into 1 product for no other reason than showcase them.

    Good software does it’s job(the task) and does it well, with just enough functionality to get the job done easily.

  34. @Rob Sanders

    Google Reader works well. If I was going to build a web based RSS cobbler, I would have done it just as they did. Yahoo Pipes is slow to load, and Microsoft’s is just clusterfck abomination. As is often the case when they try to combine 80 different MS technologies into 1 product for no other reason than showcase them.

    Good software does it’s job(the task) and does it well, with just enough functionality to get the job done easily.

  35. Yet another thread derailed by Beer.
    Mark, please don’t engage this guy anymore. He’s a well-known troll.

  36. Yet another thread derailed by Beer.
    Mark, please don’t engage this guy anymore. He’s a well-known troll.

  37. I think google will come in with a clear UI vision. They are just getting the core stable.

    Interesting to see who reigns though?

  38. I think google will come in with a clear UI vision. They are just getting the core stable.

    Interesting to see who reigns though?