Friday, November 5, 2010

Word clouds: a nice way to review your documents

I've recently discovered on Kieren McCarthy's blog a picture of a word cloud. In essence, it's a cloud of words where each word occupies a space relative to its height.

The site Wordle lets you create such clouds for free, with a terrific design. I've pasted my whole architecture documents on this site to check out the results. Here is an example of what it results in:

In the above cloud, a few elements stand out: Acquisition (Data collection), PI, Données (data), PI-SMP, and points (tags). Anyone familiar with PI or Cooper's SMP will easily guess what that document is talking about.

Such clouds can be used to make a pro-looking cover page (or back page) for any official document; in my case, I just hang them in my cubicule. One can also use word clouds hem to size up a document, any document, in a quick glance: By looking at what words have the most weight, it is possible to have a quick idea of the document itself. And yes, it does look really nice.