What is a Flash® Tag Cloud?

Mary Elizabeth
Mary Elizabeth

A blog is a website on which periodic entries are made by a person or a company, tagged, and archived. A tag is descriptive text assigned to a blog entry that helps to categorize it. It is customary to use multiple tags to describe a single entry in order that people searching for different types of keywords can find pertinent entries. A tag cloud is a way of displaying the tags from all blog entries, and one kind of tag cloud is a Flash® tag cloud.

Man holding computer
Man holding computer

A blog has several ways of revealing its focus. The title is one way. The design is another. The articles as a whole are a third, but once there is a large amount of material on the site and most of it is archived — often by month and year — the sense of the whole is hard to grasp. A tag cloud is created by a plug-in and draws from tags of all the articles that have been written, and helps give readers the gist of the site.

Tag clouds communicate in several ways. Inclusion, of course is the main one, but color and size are also used. After a blogger has contributed regularly to a blog for awhile, it becomes fairly difficult to fit all the tags in any reasonable space and/or read all of them. That’s where the Flash® tag cloud comes in. The Flash® tag cloud arranges the tags on a sphere, which the user can rotate by clicking near the cloud and dragging in various directions. In this conception, there is more “space” for tags, making them easier to see and click on if one wants to see the linked blog entries.

The Flash® tag cloud was developed as a WordPress® plug-in by Roy Tanck in 2008, and he originally just posted it on his blog, calling it “WP-Cumulus Flash® based tag cloud.” He provided a download after he’d developed it to his satisfaction, and provided instructions for people to repurpose it for HTML sites and other content management systems. An adaptation for Flickr®, a photo posting site, creates a cloud of image thumbnails.

Mary Elizabeth
Mary Elizabeth

Mary Elizabeth is passionate about reading, writing, and research, and has a penchant for correcting misinformation on the Internet. In addition to contributing articles to wiseGEEK about art, literature, and music, Mary Elizabeth is a teacher, composer, and author. She has a B.A. from the University of Chicago’s writing program and an M.A. from the University of Vermont, and she has written books, study guides, and teacher materials on language and literature, as well as music composition content for Sibelius Software.

You might also Like

Discussion Comments


@Vincenzo -- These used to bother me when I had a slower computer, but those days ended a long time ago. I honestly don't much notice them anymore.

Who uses them? I assume that people who like browsing tags on a site would find one of these useful.

As for them being buggy and slow, perhaps that has a lot to do with the server hosting the site rather than the actually programming behind the tag cloud.


These things actually drive me nuts. They are buggy, can cause a page to crash and almost always cause pages to load slowly. I honestly wonder how many people actually find these things useful? They come across as gimmicks that are more trouble than they are worth.

Post your comments
Forgot password?