YQL (Yahoo! Query Language) is not new, however the concept of a Web Service that accesses Internet data with SQL-like commands, is really cool so should be mentioned on this blog!

featured image

The Yahoo! Query Language is an expressive SQL-like language that lets you query, filter, and join data across Web services. YQL hides the complexity of Web service APIs by presenting data as simple tables, rows, and columns.

In this post I work out some examples using YQL to find data of different sources. A good intro article is: Building web applications with YQL and PHP, Part 1, another very useful resource is Using YQL Sensibly - YUIConf 2010 (Christian Heilmann)

The YQL console lets you quickly test commands. Note if you click the blue button (table name) at the right you can get help building your queries, or use DESC to describe the table structure:

help query building

From here on some examples, some easy, others a bit more advanced. Of course a lot more is possible, I still need to experiment more ...

All tweets with my domain in it (or handle)

select * from twitter.search where q='bobbelderbos.com'

Note that I use a standard php script to parse the results. You can get it from here. Alternatively you can use curl

   $yql = "select * from twitter.search where q='bobbelderbos.com'";  
   // or handle bbelderbos
   $query = "http://query.yahooapis.com/v1/public/yql?q=";
   $query .= urlencode($yql);
   $query .= "&format=json&env=store://datatables.org/alltableswithkeys";
   $info = file_get_contents($query, true);
   $info = json_decode($info); // echo "<pre>"; print_r($info ); 
   	echo "</pre>"; exit; 
   foreach($info->query->results->results as $item) { 
  		// query->results->results might differ
   	//process results

Get the latest posts from my blog feed

select title, link from rss where url="http://bobbelderbos.com/feed/rss/"

Grabbing html from a page

See an example here how this is done. It shows you how you can get the XPath from firebug, see the screenshot below (corresponding to the 3rd example below):

copy xpath from firebug

Examples of web scraping:

Original MTV movie site:

movie mashup mtv

After getting data with YQL, and styling a bit:

movie mashup result

Open data tables

With the addition of Open Data Tables, developers from anywhere can contribute YQL Tables to describe any data source on the Web, making YQL easily extensible. Today, there are more than thousand community contributed tables! You can easily build your own data tables - the source code of already committed tables is on github

yql tables

Get youtube videos for instant trailers

select * from youtube.search where query='scarface trailer' limit 5

youtube response

Get movie reviews from NY times movie API

SELECT * FROM nyt.movies.reviews WHERE apikey="---" and query="inception" (again, could be interesting to add to to sharemovi.es ...)

ny times movie reviews

Get book info from google books API

This example poors the YQL parsed results in a juery/php autocomplete

SELECT * FROM google.books WHERE q='javascript' AND maxResults=10 AND startIndex=2

google books autocomplete

Links and resources

Again, you can go much further, YQL is very powerful: embedded queries, create/import your own tables, a lot more APIs (some require keys like Amazon, Facebook, Twitter and Lastfm). Below some extra resources:

Are you using YQL?

I hope you enjoyed this post. Feel free to comment below what your experience is with YQL and/or what you would get out of this service ...

Bob Belderbos

Software Developer, Pythonista, Data Geek, Student of Life. About me