Blogger Hacks, Categories, Tips & Tricks

Thursday, July 13, 2006
Freshtags breaks 30
users, that is... We've probably been there for a long time, w/ some lurkers and quiet users, but with the addition of BlogU and EvelynKang we're now blogrolling 30+ declared users of the service. So what is Freshtags? Forgive me as I quote myself...
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.
Interesting, huh? To find out how to add this to your Blogger blog check out the Freshtags site and our launch post.

If you are a Freshtags user & you're not on the blogroll, leave a comment here or shoot me an e-mail. I'll be happy to add your blog.

If you want to add the Freshtags blogroll to your sidebar, & start to pass tags w/ other users, add the following code:

<script language="javascript" type="text/javascript" src=""></script>

Freshtags is still under development, & has served as an inspiration for a number of other creative blogger hacks. Let us know what you think of the service, and watch this space for more goodies!

Update 9pm: 3 additional users have declared since lunch!

Filed in: , , , , ,
Posted at 1:20 PM by John.
<    >
Blogger Disenchanted Dave said...
Freshtags looks great; I hope I can implement it at some point. You've clearly put a lot of hard work into this, and it's paid off.

I don't want to nitpick, but since this is in development, I thought you might want to get feedback so you can improve it. I'm really impressed with what you've put together, but there are a few things that I think could be improved. I apologize if this seems ungrateful or redundant--I'm writing this so that you know your work is appreciated and have an idea of what your users might like.

1. When the page "reloads" (or whatever it does), it jumps back up to the top of the page (at least on my browser [firefox on a mac]). When the page comes back, the tagged articles aren't on the screen anymore. This will baffle most users. "DumbLittleMan" seems to have figured out a workaround, but I'm not sure why. On his blog, jumping up to the top makes a lot of sense. Either way, I think that the option should be open to lay users as soon as there's time to add the code for it.

2. This one is a little tricky. I think there should be a way to put up your most common tags in alphabetical order. I tried sorting alphabetically and limiting the number of entries, but instead of putting out the most common entries from the whole alphabet, it put out all the entries from the first few letters.

3. Is there an easy way to modify the code so that descriptions and/or tags are printed along with the titles? Dumblittleman figured it out, but I think it should be in the code for the initial setup so that laypeople can do it themselves.

4. Putting the output in the main column (like dumblittleman did) is a great idea. There's a problem, though. If I pick a common tag (e.g. "bush"), then it fills up my screen with my bush articles. That's fine, but if I click on one of them and go to that article, "?&tags=bush" is still in the URL and the user will have to scroll down to get to the article. If the user doesn't think to scroll down, they won't find it. There should be an option to make the "?&tags=bush" disappear after a link is clicked to solve this problem.

5. This is more of a question than a recommendation. Could I have two tag displays on the same page with different types and lengths? What I'd like to do is have a short drop-down menu of my most popular tags (in alphabetical order) in the sidebar with a lnk to a post with an untruncated list of tags. Is that possible?

6. Some of the documentation could be a bit clearer. The "build" page would be much more user-friendly if it defined "anchor" and "fixed" and so on. I skipped right over the definitions initially and had to go hunting for them. Also, as far as I can tell, "sub" isn't defined anywhere.

7. Another question. Because it's share alike, is it legal/ethical to rip code from other people's freshtags implementations?

Again, thank you so much for making this available, and I hope these questions and suggestions help make the code even better than it already is.

<    >
Blogger Disenchanted Dave said...
Scratch number 2. I figured it out. I was limiting the rows instead of the "count."

But given that the script is only retrieving the first largest ten entries, does that make implementing #5 harder?

<    >
Blogger Disenchanted Dave said...
A few more things came up while I was tweaking.

8. I really like putting the titles in the main section instead of the sidebar. Is there a way that they could take up the whole section instead of sitting on top? I feel like it's sort of tacky to have the list of posts above a bunch of other posts. Perhaps this could be accomplished by linking to an empty post and then adding the list of posts with a given tag?

9. Also, is there any way of using my delicious tag bundles on the blog? I find they make organization a lot easier.

I know I've asked for a lot, so I'll totally understand if your answer to a lot of these is a brief "it'll be in version 1.0" or something. I hope you don't feel obligated to spend too much time helping me.

Thanks again for making this available. If I can even get a couple of these (e.g. 4, 5, and 8) taken care of, I'd be honored to be the 33rd official Freshtags user (or whatever the number is).

<    >
Blogger Greg said...
Hi Disenchanted Dave,

We love getting this kind of detailed, thoughtful feedback! Let's see if we can't get you re-enchanted and on the FreshTags blogroll ...

1) Jumps to Top of Page. Yes, this is a problem. There is a solution - it won't happen if the content loads "asynchronously". (Please see Singpolyma's FreshTags extension, below). I tend to keep my tags close to the top anyway, but often my readers are using the anchors with the Next/Previous post/comment hack so the page will jump away from the tags.

2) Alpha sort. (Fixed yourself.)

3) Title info. Dumblittleman's implementation is awesome! So as well as the post titles, you'd like to show the description field (presumably with the first 200 characters of article text) and tags too? Yes, that's very reasonable, but you'll need to use Phydeaux3 D2B or Singpolyma's FreshTags solution to realise that. (It will be in future releases of FreshTags.)

4) Persistent Results. We could look at that, but that would impact on the way FreshTags is designed to be used (ie in the sidebar, where you want related articles listed eg about Bush). If you'd prefer the "search results" look, then, again, please check out Singpolyma or Phydeaux3. We may look at this as a distinct "mode" of use for the future.

5) Multiple Tag Lists. Yes! You can do that. Just cut and paste in another "tags" chunk of code, with different parameters. You can re-use the tags, posts and archives as much as you'd like.

6) Definitions. We've identified the documentation as a particularly weakness. While the terms are defined (in the glossary and main page, respectively), the fact that you couldn't find them means there not well-sign-posted. We'll be looking at that.

7) Licensing. IANAL, but the intent of the licence is to ensure that producers of derived works can't a) claim they made it from scratch and b) put any further restrictions on it. As far as I'm concerned, if you find someone with good settings and customisation, then it's fair game. If they've put a bit of work in, then it would be polite to cite them and perhaps provide some linkage. This also encourages innovation.

8) "Search Results". If you'd like the "search results" look, you're probably better off going with Singpolyma or Phydeaux3. They use a method of linking to a really old empty post and then populating it with the post titles and descriptions. It might be more what you're after.

9) Delicious Bundles. I looked at this a while ago, but there's no way of getting at the bundles as a JSON feed. If that becomes possible, then we could look at that for future releases.

Thanks again for the detailed feedback. I recommend that you check out Singpolyma's FreshTags implementation, as it would be a better fit for your needs. Once you're setup, then we can still add you to the blogroll!



<    >
Blogger Disenchanted Dave said...
Thanks for the reply! I really appreciate that you were willing to tell me about alternative products. I think I'll go with D2B.

Keep up the great work with Freshtags, and thanks again


<    >
Blogger Greg said...
No worries. Just don't tell John - if he finds out why I missed this month's sales quota, I can kiss my annual bonus goodbye!


eXTReMe Tracker