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API & Mashups

The ZoomClouds API and beyond

ZoomClouds API

February 27th, 2006, 6:58

ZoomClouds has a very simple API that allows you to take the results from your cloud and do with them, well, whatever you want. Let's describe first how it works and later I'll throw a couple of suggestions.

Call format
Let's say that the name you gave your cloud is BDSV. Then, you can call ZoomClouds with the following URL:

And ZoomClouds will return an XML page, very easy to parse. In the example above, the number 30 indicates how many tags we want the tag cloud to have. You can enter a number between 5 and 100. Therefore, the format of the call is:[name of your cloud]/[number of tags]/

Response format
The response format will be something like this (we use colors here just to emphasize the different elements):

<cloud name="BDSV">
   <tags count="30" maxweight="24" minweight="2">

That is... The response starts with a <cloud> entity that has a "name" attribute, where the cloud name is described.

Within the <cloud> entity, there is one <tags> entity with three attributes:

"count" tells you how many tags are included in the results.
"maxweight" is the largest tag weight you can find in this cloud.
"minweight" is the smallest tag weight you can find in the cloud.

Within the <tags> entity you can find all the tags in the cloud, each of them within its  <tag> ...</tag> block.

Each <tag>...</tag> block comes with three sub-entities:

 <name> ... </name>    
The name of the tag, UTF-8 encoded
 <weight> ... </weight>
A positive integer indicating the weight of this tag.
 <link> ... </link>
Possibly redundant, so we'll describe it as optional. It indicates the URL associated to this tag and cloud.
And that's it. What could you do with something like this? Well, a lot of things, although obviously they won't be as trivial as copying & pasting a given piece of code.

Some ideas
The first advantage is that by using this sort-of API, you get 100% control over your cloud's data. That's not to say that you had no control over it without the API - we never stop claiming that you can customize itto your hearth's content  - but now you can also "take" the tags and use them in any other way you want, not just to build a tag cloud.

For example, something that might be interesting could be to link your cloud data with tags in Flickr and build a mosaic of Flickr pictures based in your tags. Or building a Flash app that uses your tags in whatever way you want.

You could also build your own tag cloud, or a keyword catalog, or a directory and many other things.

The only requirement is that whatever you build, you reference it with a link to ZoomClouds, whether using the
icon, or with a small text link such as "Powered by" or something along those lines.

And of course, if you build an interesting mash-up, do let us know by leaving a comment right here, and we may feature it on a special ZoomClouds mashups collection.


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