Quick how-to – tarpipe Developer Preview

May 9th 2008

tarpipe just launched a developer preview. Its aim is to get tarpipe out there for developers to try, test and, in the process, help detect bugs and gather early feedback. What’s tarpipe? From the tarpipe website:

tarpipe is a publishing mediation and distribution platform that simplifies regular upload activities:

* Publishing content to multiple Web locations;
* Combining different media into a single blog post or article;
* Transforming documents on-the-fly;
* Managing repeatable upload actions.

I’ve been playing around with it and it’s very cool, and promising. Since the service is alpha-ish and there’s some help content missing, I’m writing this simple how-to to guide you through the very first steps, from requesting an invite to making your first workflow.

I’ll quickly show you how to create a workflow that will post an email’s subject to Twitter, since it’s both simple and working. You’ll therefore need a Twitter account.

10 quick steps

1) To take part in the developer preview, you can request an invite.

2) Once you receive your invite code by email, you must sign-up. NB: OpenID is required.

signup - tarpipe

3) Signed-up and ready to go? Read the Developers page to have a general idea of what you can do.

4) Now, let’s create your first workflow. First, click on the accounts tab and type-in your Twitter credentials.

accounts - tarpipe

5) Now go to the workflows tab and create a new one. This is what you’ll see:

workflows - tarpipe

workflows - tarpipe

  • On the upper left hand corner, the workflow’s properties: title, description and receptor. There are two available receptors: REST API, to which you can make HTTP requests, and the Mail drop box, to which you can send emails.
  • On the bottom left hand corner, the connectors. They are the data manipulation tools that you hook together to create your workflow. Right now, there are only half a dozen connectors available but a lot more are coming.
  • The right hand part of the window is what I’ll call the “canvas”. This is where you’ll create the workflow by arranging and linking connectors.

6) To the chase: Choose a title and a description, select the “Mail drop box” receptor and click “save workflow”. Notice that an email address has appeared. This is where you’ll send your email.

workflows - tarpipe

7) Now click on the MailDecoder connector and a box will show up in the canvas. The 4 fields are pretty self-explanatory, but I’ll come back to it later.

workflows - tarpipe

8 ) Click on the TwitterUpdater connector. Drag the box to the right of the MailDecoder. There are 3 fields, of which only the first (“title”) is of concern to us for now.

workflows - tarpipe

9) Now, the very hard part (not!). On the MailDecoder connector, click on the little white/transparent ball in front of the “subject” field and drag your mouse to the “title” field on the TwitterUpdater connector. Hit save. You’re done.

workflows - tarpipe

10) Now copy the email address to your clipboard and compose a new email with your favorite email client. Paste the email address in the “To:” field and type “Trying out tarpipe, this is my first workflow!” on the “Subject:” field. Hit send!

11) To make sure it all worked, check out the activity tab in tarpipe, and of course you Twitter account. All done.

activity - tarpipe


Now go ahead and play with the other connectors, imagine what applications you could develop on top of tarpipe, and of course what workflows would make your life easier. There are already two libs you can use to develop your own app: one in Perl and one in Python. The tarpipe API guide is available here.

Update: Libs for PHP and ruby are now available as well.

I’m really impressed with tarpipe and I’m sure it’ll draw a lot of attention very soon. Some very amazing apps can be written on top of it and it can solve a lot of problems for web power users. Hope this post was a helpful apetizer.

Now go play, report bugs and have fun ;)