June 5th, 2009

Beaker

A cloud of tags

I did a small customization of my journal layour yesterday and added a tag cloud to my sidebar. This is a list of the tags I use, with the more frequently used tags in a larger font. From this you can see I travel a lot! Or more accurately, I write about it a lot, since I think that's what people will be most interested in reading.

I'm quite pleased at having achieved this, since it uses CSS (Cascaded Style Sheets). Once upon a time on the mainframe was a text processing language called GML (Generalized Markup Language), here's an interesting link on the history of GML. Which became the product DCF (Docoument Composition Facility) or 'Script' as it was commonly known.

Anyone who worked in IBM in the eighties or nineties would have had at least a passing knowledge of some of its keywords like :h1., :p., :li., etc. When HTML came along (HyperText Markup Language), it was easy to recognise the terms, for example :h1. indicating a top header in a document became <h1>. Although, it was necessary to close off the element since HTML wasn't line-based but freeform.

So then, came CSS which is a much more powerful way to present information on Web pages, and because it's more powerful, it's more complicated. Also, when it started, it tended to be more temperamental about how it was displayed in different browsers, so I avoided much contact with it. However, I've started looking into it a little more, so that I'll be able to understand it, and by combining these two tutorials: Adding a tag list to the sidebar and Adding a tag cloud to the sidebar I've customised my particular journal style to give me a tag cloud. So a sense of achievement, or "I win against computers" again :-)