Vishful thinking…

Can Yahoo Pipes or Microsoft Popfly replace ArcGIS Model Builder

Posted in ArcGIS, ESRI, GIS by viswaug on September 15, 2008

Yahoo Pipes and Microsoft Popfly are powerful online tools that allow us to aggregate, mashup and process data from various sources on the Internet to produce the desired output. These tools source their data from various URLs(resources) that can be added into the pipe (or model) and they can be manipulated using “Operators” that Yahoo Pipes make available.

Capture2 Capture3

GIS data can be fetched from ArcGIS Server through its RESTful endpoints in the format desired like JSON, KML etc. The “Operators” really doesn’t do too much for us here but they can be used as desired for limited purposes. The “Sub-element” operator especially can come in quite handy to get just at the desired part of the source data.

The operators that will interest the GIS folks are the geo-processing tasks that can be again accessed at RESTful URL endpoints in ArcGIS Server. The “UrlBuilder” shown below will come in real handy to direct from the source into the geo-processing task.


The only thing that is missing right now is that I haven’t figured out how I can get a point geometry from a geo-coding task to be passed as the value for a query parameter for another geo-processing task.

But taking this line of thinking further, using Yahoo Pipes or Microsoft Popfly instead of ArcGIS model builder may not be that far fetched. I am not saying that it is going to happen, it does have a long way to go, but it could be a poor-man’s model builder.

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4 Responses

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  1. jharpster said, on September 15, 2008 at 2:20 am

    We’ve experimented with kicking off an FME Server process from Pipes. Seems you could do the same with ArcServer models via the SOAP or REST API. The trick is getting the geometry back from the GIS server into Pipes or Popfly.

  2. Adam Estrada said, on September 15, 2008 at 1:15 pm

    I have used Pipes in the past as a way to aggregate data and I must say that their Location Extractor is great. I can pass in a feed and with very little tuning have the results plotted in a Yahoo Map. I have a keen interest in plotted my Twitter feed out on a map so Pipes is the perfect solution for doing this.

  3. […] Vish wonders aloud if we are close to using online tools to replace ESRI’s venerable Model Builder. […]

  4. Rem said, on November 4, 2008 at 2:28 pm

    Nice blog…

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