There are several changes and new features with this version. The most significant is an expansion of the services that Freshtags can interface with, and the introduction of "listening" and "fixed tags" modes, making it possible for you to implement Freshtags even if you don't have a del.icio.us account of your own. New to tagging? Want to call some tagged content into your sidebar to see what's hot on del.icio.us & what all the fuss is about? Listen in to the tag-o-sphere with Freshtags.
If you're familiar with the service or are already running the script, feel free to scroll down to "what's new" below. If FreshTags is new to you, here's a brief explanation and a set of prerequisites. Please give serious thought to helping us test and publicize FreshTags. This section tells you how, & explains the features and benefits of the system.
1. History & Context:
Much of the material published here in 2005 has focussed on user-contributed add-ons for Blogger, and especially those that enable bloggers to organise their material into categories. The Del.icio.us category system explored here substitutes for categories in blogger by using Del.icio.us as a bookmark manager. An author tags their post, bookmarks that post to their account on Del.icio.us with the same tags, and, over time, creates a list of posts in the same category.
One limitation of the Del.icio.us category system has been the difficulty of displaying a list of your tags / categories in the sidebar of your blog. As the method caught on, and more bloggers became comfortable with the process, some users looked for ways to export a tag list from Del.icio.us. A number of tools were developed to make this possible. Del.icio.us recently added a tagroll feature. Pappmaskin and Marc Morales independently developed scripts to create tag lists in special posts on their blogs. Greg pushed the envelope to develop FreshTags, a tool that is context sensitive and interactive.
For a detailed account of the history of Freshtags, see Johan's post at Ecmanaut describing the evolution of the service.
2. What's so special about FreshTags?
The Freshtags system features an expandable category menu that reacts to other sites running the script, as well as to search engines, and will expand a menu of posts in your sidebar to match a search term or previously viewed tag. Your site can become interactive, and responsive to reader interests, automatically. There are two main modes of operation for this feature.
The first is tag-grabbing. FreshTags can "grab" tags from search queries, and some other sites with taggable content, and reflect those "previously viewed" tags on the currently displayed page of your site. This is best explained by example. If you do a Google Search for "Freshblog", then visit this site from Google, you’ll notice my sidebar Freshtags menu expanded and “Freshblog” is pre-selected, with a list of all the posts in that category open for your browsing pleasure.
The second mode is tag-passing. FreshTags can "pass" tags between sites that are running the service. As an example, If you expand the “Culture” category on Freshblog, then visit Greg’s Vent blog, you’ll find the “Culture” category there pre-expanded.
The goal of both of these modes of operation is to enable context-sensitive surfing between blogs, and to customize the presentation of your content for the reader.
One additional Freshtags tool allows you to include a post-count in your archive menu, as you see in the sidebar at Freshblog. This gives readers a sense of the frequency & regularity of your blogging.
3: How does it work?
Freshtags is a companion tool to the del.icio.us category method. To see maximum benefit from FreshTags, you need to have an account of tagged content for the Freshtags menu to pull from. For an intro to the category process, see my introductory post on the Bookmarklets Method, and the linked posts.
If you don't have an account of tagged content, and want to use Freshtags anyway, you can use it in Listening or Fixed Tags modes (see below).
You should also be comfortable making simple template edits. You’ll need to add three short sections of code to your template, save, & republish your whole blog to enable the features of FreshTags.
5. New Features in v0.5:
- FreshTags now has a website complete with instructions, links and screencaps for new users.
- FreshTags has a reciprocal blogroll. When you notify us that you're using FreshTags, we'll add you to the blogroll, and send you the code to include the blogroll in your sidebar.
- Listening Mode: If you don't have a del.icio.us account, but want to run the service anyway to see what all the fuss is about, the FreshTags Menu will "listen" to the search queries of your visitors, and display content from the Del.icio.us front-page that has been tagged with the same terms.
- Fixed Tags Mode: Add specific del.icio.us tags to your sidebar to prompt your readers. FreshTags will notice when a visitor comes in with one of those tags as a search term, and will display content from Del.icio.us that matches those tags.
- Customisation: This new version includes more display options for the menus, to better match your blog. The display options for your tags are visible from the build page, and include a flat display on a single line, a flat list without hyperlinks, an unordered list, and a drop-down list.
- Licensing: Distribution of the service and associated scripts are now governed by a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.1 Australia License.
- Preview and testing tools: You can see the available menu options on the FreshTags Layout Test Page, and personalise a FreshTags layout for your del.icio.us tags on the FreshTags Build Page. The Build page will generate custom code for the layout options that you select, and tell you exactly where to paste the code blocks in your template.
- Multiple Tags: Now your readers can refine their interests by selecting (and de-selecting!) a number of tags at the same time. This means they can drill down on more specific topics by combining tags.
- Integration: FreshTags can now grab tags out of a wider range of web applications, including
aolsearch, technorati (tags and searches), wikis (eg wikipedia) and some blogging platforms (eg ".../category/politics"). Put Freshtags to work for you even if you don’t categorise with del.icio.us. Want to watch a set of tags on Del.icio.us & pull a FreshTags list of recent content to your sidebar? You can.
- Archives: Tag your archive pages with a post-count using the bookmarklet provided, and FreshTags will give you a sidebar menu of post titles for that month. You can also use the same zippy layouts to format your archives – drop downs, scroll boxes, lists etc.
- FreshTags is styleable. If you want even more control over how the elements display on your blog, you can use from an external file or embedded between style tags to control the display elements. Size, colour, borders etc can all be controlled by using the class="showtags" for tag display elements, and class="showtitles" for title display elements.
- Search Interface. Freshtags will load your currently selected tag into the "search this blog" box on the blogger nav-bar, allowing you to search for Freshtags content with Google Blog Search.
For this context-sensitive browsing to be effective, a number of us need to add the FreshTags service, and make use of it by visiting one another's blogs. To get started, visit the FreshTags site and explore.
On the main page you can read more about the service.
A support page defines the terms used on the site and explains advanced features in more detail.
The build page allows you to select the options that will best suit your blog, and generate the code for your template.
To discuss FreshTags, report bugs, clear up your questions and suggest improvements, leave a comment or trackback on this post, & we'll respond.
When you've added FreshTags to your blog, leave a comment or trackback to let us know that you've adopted the service. We'll add you to the blogroll of users, and send you the code to insert the blogroll in your sidebar.
Have fun adding context to your blogsurfing, with FreshTags!!
Update: For discussion re: programming and operation, & updates of an alternative version, see SingpolymaSee Freshtags on Digg
Update 7/24/06: If you want to highlight your use of Freshtags for all the world to see, you can now add the Freshtags chicklet to your template, courtesy of Annie Bluesky from Blog U. Rockin' the Freshblog favicon too. Now that's branding! Thanks, Annie!
To add the chicklet, insert the following code:
<a href="http://ghill.customer.netspace.net.au/freshtags/" title="Categories by FreshTags"><img src=" http://ghill.customer.netspace.net.au/freshtags/freshtags-btn.png" alt="FreshTags"/></a>