Feature update: Cloud Builder 2.0

Will Poynter
Profile image of Will Poynter

Will Poynter

2 mins

Although Word Cloud Plus is still very new, some early development decisions to get us going quickly are now getting in the way of advancing the aesthetics of our clouds. Therefore, we devoted this week to writing a new Cloud Builder that is designed to create prettier clouds and work better on lower-performance computers.

Two Tone

An example of a two-tone word cloud

Our word clouds now support two different font colours. This work builds on the work discussed last week giving our users more power over the colours used to generate their clouds. Individual phrases can still be coloured any way the user likes. And of course, if you miss our original single-colour clouds, it is easy to set both the first and second colours to be the same shade.

A repetitive feature request we have received is the ability to colour phrases to denote additional meaning, e.g. colour coding sentiment analysis. Our new Cloud Builder and two-tone graphics are laying the foundations to be able to provide colour as another descriptive dimension.

Tight Boundaries

A demonstration of phrase boundaries with old and new in red and blue respectively

Our original Cloud Builder would use rectangular bounding boxes around each phrase to work out where each phrase could be placed without any collisions. These were easy to use and generate, but they had the drawback of not giving many options as to how best to pack the phrases in to create an eye-catching word cloud.

Cloud Builder 2.0 uses a much more complex process to generate tight polygons around each phrase. These new boundaries give us the ability to pack tight graphics where each term fits together more comfortably.

Future Work

Our new Cloud Builder is capable of offering a lot more configurable options, e.g. different packing algorithms, maximum and minimum font size and margins around each phrase. We plan to make these configuration options available to our users to give them full control of their word clouds.