The New Improved Tweet Cloud And Why You Should Use It

Actually, this one’s long overdue. My Tweet Cloud plugin for WordPress has recently passed over the 500 download mark and, as of last week, is now on its fifth release (v 1.4).

It’s had some significant improvements over its lifetime, and has quite frankly surprised me at how popular it has become. Especially from a script written in a night with nothing more than a simple idea behind it.

The Tweaks

Having been using the Tweet Cloud on my own blog since its first release I’ve been able to actively check how it shapes up and changed anything that seemed iffy in the later releases. It’s a great way to properly get to grips with these as you end up becoming an end-user as well as a programmer, solving problems from both sides.

I played about with it and gave it more options and a cleverer way of handling words. Word linking was added to improve design and usability, and the plugin was simplified to make it easier for developers like you to add to your sidebar.

I don’t actually know that you’re a developer, but I’m settling with it as a safe assumption since you’re reading the Tweaks section.

As usual, you can find all release notes and such over at the plugin’s development page.

Where It’s Heading

Unfortunately the plugin isn’t widgetised and doesn’t use WordPress hooks for any kind of database stuff yet, so that’s definitely a direction I’d like it to go. Particularly since I was emailed by blogger Amy Armstrong on how to make it work on her WordPress.com-hosted pages. The problem is, the site does not allow you to edit any of your theme code, so she couldn’t get into the script to change it. Widgetising would definitely open this up to the people that want it, and who am I to deny you lovely people that privilege?

I also had an interesting conversation with Petri Lopia via email, who found problems with the plugin’s text parsing. He also suggested some of the things that were developed in the latest release, like support for hashtags, mentions, and excluded words. Luckily though they were already in the development pipeline and I could work on them quite easily. It’s great to know that the users of this plugin follow my line of thought.

Cheers, Amy and Petri.

I Leave You With This

The great thing about an open-source project like this is exactly that – it’s open. If you like the look of it, join myself and the 500 others and give it a go. If you want to know how it works, have a poke around with the code. Find anything weird or interesting or generally just want to fire some questions out? Post a comment or send an email – it only takes a minute to write one, and could save you hours of headaches. Trust me, it happens to me too often.

So be like Amy and Petri. Become a part of the web development community and get involved. You’ll be glad you did.


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