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March 5th, 2006

Is ZoomClouds a mashup?

March 5th, 2006, 18:38

By in FAQ
Well, it actually depends...

ZoomClouds uses two different content analysis tools. One is the Yahoo! Content Analysis API. The other is our own content analysis tool.

When ZoomClouds uses the Y! API, then ZoomClouds is acting as a mash-up, by making use of the data sent by the Y! API. When ZoomClouds doesn't use the Y! API, then it isn't.

So when does ZoomClouds use one or another tool? Simple. When you just build a cloud, update it, reload it, etc. ZoomClouds tries to use the Yahoo! API first. Why? Because it's much faster than ours (meaning where the Y! API takes 2 seconds, our content analysis tool takes 6) and sometimes it's better at picking new terms.

On the other side, our content analysis tool takes a bit longer, but it's really good at remembering things. More often than not, our content analysis tool does a better job at extracting terms from blogs it already knows. But because it's somewhat slower, we let it do its job behind the scenes when it's time to update the cloud when nobody's looking. Unfortunately that happens at most once a day.

Let's look at some examples. Here's a cloud that used only Yahoo's content analysis tool.

And here's the same feed but using only our content analysis tool:

They're a bit different, but they're both, um, good looking clouds. Notice "our" cloud has a nicer weight distribution though.

Sometimes Yahoo's tool fails miserably, we're not sure why. This is a cloud from a blog after using Yahoo's API:

And this is the cloud we've got when we noticed how terrible job Y!'s API did and we ran our tool instead:

Now we're talking!

There's one more instance when our content analysis tool will take over Yahoo's and that's if we've ran out of our daily Y! API quota. Basically, after 5,000 calls in a 24 hours period, Yahoo won't accept any more API calls. Well, if we get over that quota, we wouldn't be able to create or update any cloud until that 24 period was over, so when that happens - or anytime the Y! API fails for whatever reason - then our content analysis tool will take over.

Ideally what we'll eventually do is, when you build your cloud for the first time, run Yahoo's API first, then immediately our own content analysis tool. But for that, we need to optimize our algorithms a bit more, so that you don't have to wait say 30 seconds to get your cloud updated.

Could we live without Yahoo's API? Yes, certainly we could. But as long as we can use two content analysist tools instead of one, what's the harm?

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