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Clouds, clouds, everywhere

When I told my family I wrote an article about tag clouds for O’Reilly, they went “Huh? What’s that?” But then again, these are the same folks that thought I was writing an article for this guy, instead of these guys.

Anyway, this is a tag cloud:

This particular tag cloud is a map of my interests for the past few weeks, based on the bookmarks I have been saving to my account.

My new article, “Build Tag Clouds in Perl and PHP,” shows you how to build one of these amorphous wonders for your website. More importantly, it shows you how to use them effectively, and it contains the word “pie.” Doesn’t get much better than that. Here’s the official blurb:

Tag clouds are everywhere on the web these days. First popularized by the web sites Flickr, Technorati, and, these amorphous clumps of words now appear on a slew of web sites as visual evidence of their membership in the elite corps of “Web 2.0.” This PDF analyzes what is and isn’t a tag cloud, offers design tips for using them effectively, and then goes on to show how to collect tags and display them in the tag cloud format. Scripts are provided in Perl and PHP.

Yes, some have said tag clouds are a fad. But as you will see, tag clouds, when used properly, have real merits. More importantly, the skills you learn in making your own tag clouds enable you to make other interesting kinds of interfaces that will outlast the mercurial fads of this year or the next.

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