For Retool, Glenn Fleishman looks back to a time when data on the internet flowed more freely and you were able to direct the streams with a click-and-drag tool called Pipes for Yahoo!
With Pipes, any user could create entries for any number of data sources. While RSS was key, Pipes also let users grab other data and feed formats, like Atom, RDF (incorporated into RSS 2.0), and CSV (comma-separated values, a simple database and spreadsheet export format).
Pipes gave visibility into internal Yahoo sites and services, particularly Flickr, and eventually supported Yahoo Query Language (YQL), a project designed for interoperable in-house and third-party scripting across all of the company’s offerings. With a little elbow grease, you could even retrieve a web page and filter it for specific data.