Tuesday, December 30, 2008

ZoomClouds - A Better Way To Make A Label Cloud?

Today I stumbled upon ZoomClouds which bills itself as an easier way to place a much-desired label cloud on your blog. You may remember an earlier post here on Facebook Bootcamp on how to create a nifty cloud label. While the process is not easy and involves some editing of the CSS and blog template, the results are great.

So when ZoomClouds came along with what seems like an easy way to create a cloud label based on the blog's feed and customizations you add (such as font size, color, etc.), I thought I'd take it for a spin. Here are the steps involved:

1. Go to the ZoomClouds website. Click Signup.

2.  Enter your account details and once complete, a confirmation message appears.  Click define a new cloud to proceed.

3.  Enter a name for your cloud, a description and the blog feed details (you may need to log in to your FeedBurner account to check the exact details).  Click create cloud! when finished.

4.  A confirmation message appears.  Click Go update my cloud! to have ZoomClouds work with your blog feed to build the label cloud.

5.  Once the cloud is built, another confirmation message appears.  Click see the look of your cloud . . . to customize the look and feel of the label cloud.

6.  Using various options in the Define your cloud section, you can adjust the font size and colors of the label cloud.  Once your settings are the way you desire, highlight and copy the html text and paste it into a blank HTML widget in your blog.

The end result as pasted into my Destination: Austin Family blog are shown below.

While the process is much easier than dealing with cutting and pasting CSS code into my Blogger template, I have some problem with allowing a web service to generate my label cloud:

- first, if you compare ZoomClouds with my "hard coded" label cloud below, for some reason some pretty important labels (like the surname Austin) are omitted.  I used the "forever" setting when creating the label cloud (meaning it would use all posts going back to when the blog was created) and I also fooled with the font sizes.  After much frustration, on the FAQ section of ZoomClouds, it states that despite selecting "forever" it will still only use the content that is in your feed at the time (roughly 10-15 posts).

- second I can't find a terms and conditions section but the FAQ does mention use of the Yahoo! Content Analysis API as part of building the label clouds.  I have concerns about how my labeled blog posts might be linked to or used.

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