Category Archives: tag cloud

CloudStore – Product Catalogs using Image Clouds

If you liked tag cloud / keyword cloud concept using text, think of what can be achieved using images instead of text! That is exactly what CloudStore – Online Shopping using Image Clouds from ToCloud does. The Digital SLR Cameras Image Cloud displays all the Digital SLR Cameras from Amazon as an Image Cloud. The cameras are ordered from left-to-right and top-to-bottom using Amazon’s SalesRank while the size of the Image is set to reflect the list price of the digital cameras. So, those digital SLR cameras that are more expensive are shown big while those that are cheap are shown small. Further, the images have a border rendered with different colors. Green indicates a “too low to display” price of Amazon, orange indicates that the sales price on Amazon is less than the list price while Yellow indicates that the list and sales prices are the same.

As far as I know, this is the first instance where a Web 2.0 concept of tag clouds has been implemented for Product Catalogs. What’s cool about this is the fact that it makes use of html image maps to be able to show the user additional information about each product and clicking on a particular product takes the user to the product details page on Amazon.

I have noticed an Image Cloud from chainofthoughts.com listed at wikipedia which seems to have multiple drawbacks. They are, 1) there is no semantics to the ordering of the images 2) each image in the Image Cloud is a separate which ends up requesting several http requests. But perhaps that website is the first to come up with the concept of Image Clouds while ToCloud is perhaps the first to use Image Clouds for Product Catalogs.

Leave a comment

Filed under Image Cloud, Procurement, Product Catalog, tag cloud, Web 2.0

Cloud of Clouders

A lot of people are using tag cloud or keyword clouds these days. Many websites provide free tools to create these clouds. ToCloud.com has used it’s log of the websites that have been converted to keyword clouds, for each of those websites, got the number of bookmarks on del.icio.us and then plotted it as cloud of clouders.

Is this “cloud of clouders” a tag cloud or a keyword cloud? I think it’s neither. Because, tag clouds are based on tagging while keyword clouds are based on converting of text within a page, article or book. However, a cloud created using the names of an entity with some metric of those entities as cloud frequency can probably called as “metric cloud” or “statistical cloud”.

Leave a comment

Filed under keyword cloud, mashup, metric cloud, statistical cloud, tag cloud, word cloud

Mashup: Tag Cloud + Amazon Products

ToCloud.com has extended the Tag Cloud mashup with Google Suggest to now support exploring Amazon Products from the Tag Cloud. This gives an opportunity for bloggers to quickly check what kind of products correspond to their blogging content. This is useful for people considering placing affiliate links to generate additional revenue.

Here is an example of Photo.net tag cloud and when you click on each link, you can choose either Google Suggest or Amazon to display the related content for each of the words in the cloud. When Amazon is chosen, it is also possible to pick the product category.

Leave a comment

Filed under affiliates, keyword cloud, mashup, page cloud, tag cloud, Web 2.0, word cloud

Script.aculo.us Effects on a Tag/Keyword Cloud

Script.aculo.us is one of the popular Web 2.0 javascript library which goes with the theme of “it’s about user interface baby!”

And Tag Cloud is also a Web 2.0 concept.

So, what if we combine these two together? You get Script.aculo.us effect on a Tag Cloud. That’s exactly what the ToCloud Keyword Cloud Generator has done. Here are a few examples.

Plusate Effect on My Blog

Grow Effect on Amazon Homepage

Shake Effect on MySpace.com

BlindDown Effect on Yahoo!

Leave a comment

Filed under DHTML, javascript, keyword cloud, script.aculo.us, tag cloud, Web 2.0, word cloud

Keyword/Tag Cloud Suggest – A mashup

What happens if a keyword cloud or a tag cloud is mixed with Google Suggest? You get a Cloud Suggest. The motivation behind this is that say you have a tag cloud of your blog. The cloud gives you and your readers a quick idea of what topics you mostly cover in your blog. But what if you or your readers want to know what are the popular searches related to those tags? That’s where you can make use of Google Suggest. ToCloud.com seems to be the first keyword cloud generator that has this Cloud Suggest idea. So, once a cloud is generated, clicking on any of the word/phrase opens a popup that fetches suggestions for that word/phrase from Google Suggest.

Leave a comment

Filed under keyword cloud, mashup, tag cloud, Web 2.0

Tag Cloud Comparision

Earlier I discussed tag cloud algirhtim/logic/formula and talked about linear and logarithmic interpolation. The difference in visualization can be viewed at ToCloud.com that takes any URL and converts into a tag cloud with various options for interpolation and sorting. In addition, there is an interesting concept of comparing two pages in a single keyword cloud. And also the ability to take tag summary pages from del.icio.us or slashdot and turn them into clouds to give clouds within tags or what is referred as sub-tags. Even daily news can be converted into keyword clouds.

Leave a comment

Filed under keyword cloud, page cloud, tag cloud

Tag Cloud Algorithm/Logic/Formula

I wanted to implement a very efficient tag cloud generator. Initially I thought it’s a simple task, but realized making it efficient is a bit challenging. I came up with a bunch of ideas on how to do that and then searched on the web to find if there are any articles related to it. I noticed that most of them talk about how to divide the data into buckets, using some sort of a formula including logarithms etc. There are bits and pieces of code here and there, but somehow nothing excited me. So, let me put together some of my thoughts on this.

A tag cloud requires a tag and a number associated with that tag. That number is usually a metric. What’s so special about a tag cloud? Typically information in business applications is presented as a table which can then be sorted. So, at any time, user can sort by the name of the entity in the report or by the metric of that entity. For example, by customer name or the dollar amount spent by the customer. However, what a tag cloud offers is the ability to get the ordering of both the entity and the metric in a single visual representation. This is done by laying out the data in the order of the entity but changing the size/color intensity of that entity based on the metric value. As a result, while the user can scan top to bottom (and left to right) for alphabetical ordering of the entities, user can also scan for the font-size/color intensity at the same time. So, an extra sort is avoided to gather the ordering for each. Ofcourse, for precise details, one has to sort either for the entity or the metric explicitly.

Now, the next question is, how to vary this size/intensity metric? Is some linear interpolation sufficient enough? Does it have to be logarithmic? This to a large extent depends on the data distribution. If the difference between the highest value and the least value of the metric is so large (o(10^n)), then logirthmic interpolation may help. However, sometimes it may not be worth showing every entity in the tag cloud. Just the top N entities are good enough. If we go with the top N approach, then max and the min of the top N entities may not be that wide spread and in this case a linear interpolation should suffice.

One reason I would caution against using a logarithmic interpolation is that it’s expensive to compute and if you are doing it real-time and with huge volume, then that’s going to be CPU intensive. So, try using the topN and linear interpolation.

Next, in the linear interpolation, how do we set the min and max boundaries for the font size/color intensity? I notice that Amazon.com for example, is ranging it’s font sizes between 80% and 280%. So, the lowest tag in the cloud would get a font size of 80% and the highest tag 280%. I have decided to go with the following formula

150*(1.0+(1.5*m-maxm/2)/maxm)

This nicely gives a font size from 75% to 300% as the metric changes from a potential 0 to maxm. Check Tag Cloud Generator for this formula in action.

Ok, if we go with this topN approach, then the next question is how do we get this top N? For this, one has to invariably write a SQL statement. Something like

“select entity,metric from fact order by metric desc” which gives all the entities.

One can refine this to restrict only to the topN by doing the following

“select entity,metric from fact ordre by metric desc limit 0,<n>” where you can plugin a particular number suitable for your application.

Now, with the above SQL, we obtained the Top N entities. However, we want them in alphabetical order as that’s how we want to display the cloud. How do we do this? One approach is to fetch them all first and then do a sort in the middle-tier. Depending on the size of the N and the number of middle tiers you have, you have to chose doing this in middle tier vs database. Assuming you have a single middle tier server, then perhaps doing in the database (also a single server) may not be bad. So, the above SQL will refine to

“select * from (select entity,metric from fact order by metric desc limit 0,<n> ) order by entity”

In the above configuration of a single mt and db server, chosing to do this in database gives the advantage of not having to create an array of records in the middle-tier for doing the sort as the sort is done in the database itself (which I am assuming has more optimal sorting strategies). So, one can just loop through the result set and output the entities.

However, there is one small problem with this. By sorting the TopN alphabetically in the database itself, we don’t have the max metric value. If we don’t have the max metric value, how do we then really calculate the size/intensity? So, does it mean I have to get the results set into an array first and then scan through to get the max? Then that defeats the purpose of double sorting in the database as mentioned above.

With Oracle, it’s possible to use Analytical functions and get the max of the entire set as a column in the query. But hae, most guys out there are using MySQL for their web apps. Isn’t it? So, what next?

That’s when I thought of using the javascript to do the fontsize calculation on the client side! Yes, the idea is, loop through the results set and generate the HTML code.
And in due process maintain the max value and output it as a javascript variables that will be used in the client side computation. Now, when the tags are generated as links, make use of the link’s title attribute to capture the metric value. Like the title may read “some description: “.

Now, in the javascript, you can loop through each of the link, compute the font size, and set it for the link. A snippet of that function would look like

function processCloud(id,max) {
var cloud = getElement(id);
if(!cloud) return;
var tags = cloud.getElementsByTagName("a");
for(var i=0;i<tags.length;i++) {
var tag = tags[i];
var title = tag.getAttribute("title");
var f = title.substring(title.indexOf(":")+1);
var fontSize = (150.0*(1.0+(1.5*f-max/2)/max))+"%";
tag.style.fontSize = fontSize;
}
}

Here, getElement is a utility function that gets the element from the document based on a given id. So, your tag cloud can be placed in a div element with an id and that’s the id you pass to the processCloud function along with the max value that is computed as part of generating the html.

That’s it. This essentially does the following optimizations

1. Since we first sort by metric and limit only the top N elements, there is no need to bring in all the elements into the middle tier.
2. Since we then sort the data by name, there is no need to create an array in the middle tier and do the sort.
3. Finally, since the fontsize/intensity calculation is pushed to the client side, there is no need to create an array in the middle tier.

That’s all there is. Hope this helps in your application!

14 Comments

Filed under keyword cloud, tag cloud, tags, Tech - Tips, Web 2.0, word cloud