Frustrated with the WordPress tag cloud widget

As you can see if you are reading this on the blog,punchbarrel.com web site (you will need to imagine if you are using an RSS reader or some fancy blog-to-email thingy), this blog has a “tag cloud” in a sidebar. I really like the way that a tag cloud allows quick and easy access to existing posts without searching or browsing.

However, the tag cloud widget built in to the version of WordPress I am using defaults to display of a small number of tags (around 40, as I recall.) This is a piffling amount and results in most of my low-volume tags not being displayed – largely defeating the point of tags for navigation. I did find a place in the widget PHP where this value can be overridden, and that’s how I have been showing a reasonable number of tags over the last few months.

The modification I found has one big problem. It is reverted every time I upgrade WordPress, and so far I have ended up searching through the WordPress code to find where to make the change again. Each release I have hoped that this obvious value will be available as a widget parameter, but to no avail. With the latest WordPress update I could no longer be bothered to look.

So today I decided to abandon the existing tag cloud widget and look for one more suitable to my needs. The one I eventually settled on was Configurable Tag Cloud (CTC). This plugin acts a widget in the same way as the built-in one, but is much more configurable. best of all, it defaults to showing all the tags – just what I want!

As an additional bonus, and only a few months after it was pointed out to me by some of my users, I have finally fixed the CSS styling when hovering over a sidebar link, so that it no longer obscures the link text with a big opaque blue blob. Now the current link is indicated with a gentle yellow background.

Enjoy!