A few months back, I published a post on the Teachnet Learning Blog entitled ‘Wordclouds in Education’, which focused primarily on Wordle. Recently a new wordcloud application has emerged, called Tagxedo. The range of options available in Tagxedo for customisation is very impressive and it has expanded upon the capabilities of wordcloud generators that have gone before it (the creator of Wordle has referred to Tagxedo as “Wordle – the next generation”). Tagxedo can be found at http://www.tagxedo.com/.
There are numerous options available to you for supplying the words/tags which will form your cloud; you can simply copy and paste (or type) in the content, you can submit a URL and Tagxedo will extract the words from that page, or you can upload a text file. You can also point Tagxedo at a blog, Twitter account, Del.Icio.Us account, RSS feed, etc.
Once you have submitted your content and the initial cloud has been created, you can customise it in many way. There are dozens of colour schemes (themes) available to choose from, or you can design your own. You can choose from an array of fonts, and choose from either portrait or landscape orientation.
The real creativity however comes in specifying the shape of the wordcloud. You can have the traditional ‘cloud’ shape, or choose from a variety of pre-existing shapes (for instance, if you choose the ‘star’ shape, your wordcloud will take the shape of a star) and words (e.g: choose the word ‘love’ and your wordcloud will be shaped using the constituent letters). Even better, you can upload an image of your own choosing that you would like to shape your wordcloud (for instance, a logo, symbol, map, photo, portrait, etc) or enter a word of your own choosing (this might be a concept, theme, idea, etc). Take a look in the Tagxedo gallery to see some examples of custom shapes being used. Tagxedo will also keep a history of all the options you have tried, and you can simply revert to an earlier version at any stage. When you have finished, you can choose from a variety of settings to save your wordcloud as an image, or you can generate embed code to embed the wordcloud directly into your blog, website, etc.
Tagxedo is an excellent application with huge potential. The designer has supplied a Google presentation on “101 ways to use Tagxedo” (available here) which is well worth a look, and you can also view some links about the educational uses for wordclouds in general on my previous post (available here).