Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Yahoo! Developer Network: FAIL

No one's perfect, and I have a long history of rooting for the underdog, but Yahoo! is just hopeless. Case in point:

I just saw a tweet referencing this Yahoo! Developer Network (YDN)
services map. Interesting idea, I'm a sucker for that type of organizational graphic, so I'm checking it out, and there are certainly things that I've heard referenced but never had time to investigate. Ooo, shiny.

Like "pipes". Yeah, that sounds interesting. This is probably as good a time as any to take a look, so... Where can I get more info? Hmmm. The PDF has only the top-level YDN home URL. And none of the graphics or text in the PDF seem to be linked to specific topics. Th
at seems strange, but what the heck, can't expect everything, eh?.

Now I know from past experience that other YDN areas have pretty obvious name=>URL mappings, e.g. YUI is at developer.yaho, OAuth is at -- couldn't be easier, eh? So of course I should be able to go to and find -- nothing. 404. "Sorry, the page you requested was not found."

O-tay. Well, the main YDN page has a search box, so let's just enter "pipes" and see what happens. Oh, boy. Above the results list it indicates that the search was limited to -- right, good, what I wanted --
and at the top of the results list I see:

Also try -- "exhaust pipes"?? Yeah, I might want to hook a hose to one, at this rate.

OK, top result is titled "Yahoo! Maps API/Pipes - JSON example" which really doesn't sound exactly relevant, but maybe it'll lead to something else, so let's take a look.

Oh, good. It "displays" an utterly blank page.

Unreal. On the second results list page, the top entry turns out to be "Gateway to Yahoo! Services - YDN" with the URL Hmmm. Wouldn't you expect the first page of to be the "gateway"? What's it there for, then? Maybe we're a wee unclear on the concept of an "index" page.

But working my way down the Page That Has Everything I eventually find a link to:

Sheesh. If this confusion on creating a positive user experience for Yahoo! developers is indicative of the thought that went into the tools... scary, and perhaps better left unsaid.

But worse, Yahoo! is primarily a search company. And their search just doesn't seem to work. Being unable to find the most obviously relevant entry within a very restricted context -- that's really scary.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Hassan,

I just stumbled across this. Sorry you didn't have a great experience. Pipes was a bit of an experimental product which is why it's on its own domain. I've filed a bug for not pointing to the right place though and I'll make sure that gets fixed.

I'm also going to talk to the team about a linked version of the subway map. That's a great idea.

If you like Pipes you should also check out YQL, which use the same Pipes engine but has a programatic interface. Happily that is on the Developer Network site at

If you have any other questions please let us know we love to get your feedback.


8:03 PM  

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