WP-Cumulus Animates Tag Clouds

Stephen Yagielowicz
One of the most common types of adult websites today is the blog. Whether powered by the ubiquitous WordPress software, or any number of other blogging apps and services, the usefulness and value of the site may be easily enhanced with content categorization and tagging to identify themes or niches that recur throughout the site. The problem then is that you have an unattractive collection of these links, known as a tag cloud, cluttering up your webpage.

According to its creator, WP-Cumulus allows users to display their website's tags, categories or both, using a Flash movie that rotates them with a 3D sphere effect. The plugin works the same as a standard tag cloud, but with a unique, visually appealing presentation. While clicking the tags may be somewhat difficult depending on the number of tags and speed setting, it will take a visitor to the designated page.

Setting up WP-Cumulus in WordPress is easy, although it requires that you run version 2.3 or better. After downloading the zip file and extracting the contents, you upload the 'wp-cumulus' folder to your plugins directory (wp-content/plugins/) and then activate the plugin through the 'plugins' page in WP. Selecting 'Options->WP Cumulus' allows you to adjust items like display size, etc.

Three display options are available for the tag cloud. You can either create a page or post and type [wp-cumulus] anywhere in the content, which is replaced by the flash movie when viewing the page. Users can place a snippet of code anywhere in their theme to display the cloud, such as in a sidebar, although many sidebars are not wide enough to keep the tags readable. A third option is to use the sidebar widget that comes with the plugin. This is accessed through 'Appearance'->'Widgets' to customize its own settings, such as background color, size, etc.

WP-Cumulus requires Flash Player 9 or better and JavaScript. In some cases, the WordPress Automatic Plugin Upgrade feature will corrupt the Flash movie. If this happens to you, disable the plugin and then reinstall it through FTP. Many users will prefer to install via FTP anyway, limiting the problem.

WP-Cumulus also outputs the tag cloud (and/or categories listing) for non-flash users, providing links for search engines as well. The links are hidden using CSS by default, but can be optionally made visible.

Finally, WP-Cumulus is not just for WordPress users, as a number of software ports are available, including versions for Blogger, Drupal, Joomla, Movable Type and other applications supporting tags.

If you want a way to jazz up your tag cloud, WP-Cumulus is it.