Programming models based on algorithmic skeletons promise to raise the level of abstraction perceived by programmers when implementing parallel applications, while guaranteeing good performance figures. At the same time, however, they restrict the freedom of programmers to implement arbitrary parallelism exploitation patterns. In fact, efficiency is achieved by restricting the parallelism exploitation patterns provided to the programmer to the useful ones for which efficient implementations, as well as useful and efficient compositions, are known. In this work we introduce muskel, a full Java library targeting workstation clusters, networks and grids and providing the programmers with a skeleton based parallel programming environment. muskel is implemented exploiting (macro) data flow technology, rather than the more usual skeleton technology relying on the use of implementation templates. Using data flow, muskel easily and efficiently implements both classical, predefined skeletons, and user-defined parallelism exploitation patterns. This provides a means to overcome some of the problems that Cole identified in his skeleton manifesto as the issues impairing skeleton success in the parallel programming arena. We discuss fully how user-defined skeletons are supported by exploiting a data flow implementation, experimental results and we also discuss extensions supporting the further characterization of skeletons with non-functional properties, such as security, through the use of Aspect Oriented Programming and annotations.