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Drupal's built-in data presentation tools offer several ways for web designers to clearly and attractively package their data. In Drupal 6: Online Presentation of Data, Tom Geller explains how Drupal handles data so users can set up intelligent structures and implement them with Drupal's Content Construction Kit. Tom also shows how a data-driven web site can improve its interactivity by using geographic data to connect real-world addresses to maps. Exercise files accompany the course.
Somewhere between the world of text and the world of graphics lies the phenomenon, known as the tag cloud. A tag could does the simple sounding job of displaying a list of taxonomy terms or tags, in a form that makes clear which are the most often used on the site. It's easier to show than to explain, and fortunately there is a Drupal module that sets up tag clouds very quickly and very easily. It's called tagadelic. But first, let's take a look at what we are going for. Our site has only one tagging vocabulary. We tag the content type persons according to whether they were raised in the family, married into the family, a pet, or a friend of the family. So our display really won't be all that impressive, we'll only have four things in our tag cloud, but check out the use of tagadelic by a software development firm who built their site in Drupal.
This tag cloud is sorted alphabetically, however, the size of the terms tells you how often they appear on the site. Obviously, Apache is important and General discussion down here is very important. This tagadelic page sorts the tags by weight. That is, which ones appear most often on the site as opposed to alphabetically. And finally, here's one with some really nice CSS styling applied. You can learn the skills you would need to do this to yourself by watching the video, altering view's appearance through CSS. But let's get started making our own tag clouds.
First download the Tagadelic Module at drupal.org/project/tagadelic. We'll show you more information at the end with all of these URLs. We have already installed tagadelic, so now we just have to enable it. To do so, go to Administer > Site Building > Modules. And then scroll down to the Taxonomy group. You'll find it very near the bottom, since these were arranged alphabetically. There it is. You just click it on and Save. Tagadelic setup is incredibly simple, but unfortunately there's virtually no documentation built into the Module itself. Let's take a quick look at its configuration. To do so, go to Administer and then to the Site configuration link, scroll down and click Tagadelic configuration. As you can see, you can sort them by weight as we saw in one site, or by title as we saw in another, or randomly; which gives an interesting chaotic appearance. You can choose how many tags on the page, and if you setup a multi-level taxonomy, you can only have it go down to a certain level if you prefer. We are going to leave these things as they are, and Save our configuration.
The primary way that tagadelic shows you tags is through some blocks that it installs. Most notably, it creates one for each vocabulary. We'll see that by going to Administer > Site Building > Blocks. And then we scroll down to the bottom, so we can see all of the disabled blocks. Since we have only one vocabulary, we just have these tags in relationship to family, since that's the name of our vocabulary. I'm going to put that in the right sidebar, scroll down a little further, and save our blocks. Immediately we see the results here in the right column. We can see that more people were raised and married in to the family, that is, raised in the family and married into the family, than say are friends in our database.
Let's go back to Administer > Site Building > Blocks again, and scroll down, because it does install one other block here, tags for the current posts. That block will show you the tags that are related to the post that you are looking at, at any given moment. However, it has what I consider a bug at this moment. It only displays those tags if you allow people to type in their own tags, as opposed to setting a specific list of available tags as we did on our site. If you wanted to make that change, and make this block available and useful, you can do so by editing the Vocabulary to allow for free tagging, as we showed in the video using taxonomies to categorize and group data.
You can also display tags on pages. There are two ways to do so, although, they are only different if you have multiple taxonomies. Since we only have one, I'll go to one of those other sites to check them out. The first way is by chunk which tagadelic's documentation defines as being a tag cloud of the terms in the vocabularies that you select. Let's take a look at what that looks like. As you can see in our browser bar, we have /tagadelic/chunk, and then we type slash and the numbers of the vocabularies we want to use. We'll just say 1,2,3. This is choosing only those tags from those vocabularies. If we made it just chunk/1, it would cut down quite a bit, because obviously it's showing only those that were in whatever vocabulary 1 was.
The second is by list, which the documentation defines as the vocabulary you selected, listed as tag groups. The chunk format appears to be more common on the Internet at large, because it aggregates tags from multiple vocabularies into one cloud. But you should make your own decisions as to which is best for you. Let's just take a look at what that list version is. Type in list instead of chunk, add a few more vocabularies, 1, 2, and 3, and you see we now have main category, project name, forums, and so forth. I just want to make one little side note, did you notice how you can change which taxonomy vocabularies are included by changing the numbers at the end of the URL? If you've watched this entire video series, that should remind you of something. That's right, arguments. In fact, tag clouds created with tagadelic lend themselves very nicely to control via arguments in views. So you could, for example, give your users ways to narrow down on what they see in the tag cloud. For a refresher course in arguments, see the video, extending views with arguments.
As long as we are talking about views, it's also possible to narrow down which nodes are seen by tagadelic when it builds it's tag clouds. We do that through another Module called simply enough, views tagadelic. Although, in some places it's called tagadelic views. You can get it at drupal.org/project/views_tagadelic. There are others as well. One of them is called cumulus, which requires tagadelic, and it's available at drupal.org/project/cumulus. It actually displays the tags inside of Flash animation. It's kind of silly, but possibly appropriate on sites that favor graphics over text. On the up side it's really quite pretty as you can see on the cumulus project homepage on drupal. org. On the downside, it's inaccessible to some people with disabilities.
So use it judiciously, and as with the charts Module, if you decide to use the Cumulus Module, you'll have to download some additional software. Fortunately, the supporting software here for cumulus is a lot easier to find, in fact, links to it are listed right here on the cumulus homepage. The last thing that I'm going to do is disable that tags block on the right hand column. To do so of course, we just scroll down on our blocks page, change from right sidebar to none, scroll down and click Save blocks. Now throughout this video I ragged pretty hard on tagadelic's documentation. I just want to remind that it isn't open source project, and I don't mean to denigrate the Module itself, which works quite well. And remember, people did this all on volunteer time, not only was the Module programmed on volunteer time, but in fact, additional documentation is now available which people wrote on volunteer time.
You can see that documentation at the URLs you see listed here. To be honest, I have never implemented tag clouds on my sites. I think their default appearance is kind of cliche, but they really are excellent at getting across an interesting aspect of otherwise hidden information in a compact impactful way. And it's worth noting that tagadelic isn't just a tag display system. It's also an API that other Modules can hook into, for example, cumulus. Personally, I think that's where tag clouds potential really lies, and I look forward to seeing some really interesting applications of tag clouds in the near future.
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