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You can find out about FreshTags, view working examples and design and deploy it for yourself.

What is FreshTags?

Pages with FreshTags provide navigation (such as hyperlinks) to other content that is likely to be of interest to the reader. It is based on the social bookmarking web application and is deployed as a small piece of JavaScript code on your pages. It is based around the idea of tags: the publisher controls the navigation (content and presentation), while the reader selects from a list of tags to determine their interests. This way, readers are more likely to see what they want and so stay on your site.

How Is It Used?

Most commonly, it is used by bloggers to overcome limitations in their blogging software: it's hard to organise your posts by category (or topic). Tagging your posts with a tool like allows readers to navigate by topic. But with FreshTags, the integration happens "on the fly" and on your page. FreshTags works with a range of blogging platforms, such as Blogger and WordPress, and many other content management systems that supports JavaScript. Since it works with HTML, you can even add it to your homepage!

What Do I Need?

It depends on how you plan to use it. If you haven't tagged your pages with, you can still use FreshTags to share your bookmarks. If you don't even have a account, you can run FreshTags in "generic mode" - let the tag community do the heavy lifting for you! But to get the most out FreshTags, we suggest you tag your content yourself with tags that make sense to you and your readers. If you've already got a blog, then there's a bunch of ways to tag your posts.

How Do I Get Started?

Check out the blogroll on the right of sites using (various versions of) FreshTags. Then, peruse the different built-in layouts (drop-downs, scroll boxes, list etc) at the Build Page to get it just right. Finally, copy and paste the provided code snippets into your page or template (if using a blog). And away you go!

What Are The Key Features?

This lists only some of the features found in FreshTags - there are lots of other goodies to be found. If you're not sure what they are or like to suggest more, please join the discussion.

Works Off The Shelf ...

FreshTags supports a number of built-in presentation modes for listing either tags or titles:

... Yet Customisable

You can also customise your FreshTags layout by defining your own presentation (as HTML code) and through the use of styles. You can control the size, colour, position and other properties of each FreshTags element using style commands on your page, or through a linked external css file. This combination of customised code and stylable elements means that you can tweak to your heart's content.

Anticipates Your Readers' Interest

While your readers can choose tags on your page, FreshTags will also let you pick up on your readers' interests before they hit your page. How? Well, FreshTags will scan your readers' previous page for keywords that match tags you've specified. The previous page (or referring URL) doesn't have to be FreshTags-enabled: these keywords could be their search query or in the title too. Examples of websites with which FreshTags integrates in this way include:

Refined Navigation

Lastly, FreshTags now supports multiple tags! That's right: why limit your readers to just one choice? With multiple tags you can offer your readers the ability to drill-down to your content that most interests them. (Please select "flat-multi", "list-multi" or "scroll" as your tag type.)

How Did FreshTags Come About?

Why and How?

FreshTags is a continuing riff on a blog hacking theme started in mid-2005 when bloggers, dissatisfied with the lack of category management in Blogger, began using social bookmarking services to tag their own pages to allow readers to find content by topic. Like all beautiful hacks, it was born of necessity but gave rise to novel and unpredictable consequences. FreshTags constitutes an open, collaborative, international jam session with ideas, discussion and code centered around the open mic stage at Freshblog (whence FreshTags got its moniker) - a blog devoted to blog hacks, extensions and news.


FreshTags' coder, frontman and principal roadie is Greg Hill - a long-time blogger and even-longer time doctoral candidate in Information Quality. Greg's interests include sprinkling rambling comments on other people's blog, avoiding his supervisor and pushing his opinions about. While he'd love to work for Google, he'd still take calls from Yahoo.

Other members of the ensemble include John at Freshblog (for ideas, discussion, bravely adopting early and shameless barrow-pushing) and Johan at ecmanaut (for more ideas, actual working code and inspiration). Shout outs to Singpolyma for adoption and extensions and Marc Morales for showing us the way with his server-side in-blog navigation.

Where Can I Read More?

How is FreshTags Being Developed?

FreshTags is a colaborative effort, released under community licensing. This openness means everyone is welcome to add to it, comment on it, extend it, suggest ideas and use it. Please attribute the author and let us know what you're doing with it by adding your blog to the BlogRoll or joining the discussion.


The current release is version 0.5. (Comments left in.)

Jan 2006FreshTags 0.5added tag-grabbing for generic modes, archiving bookmarklet, defaults feature and low(er)-impact JSON fetching.
Dec 2005FreshTags 0.4improved support for multiple tags and included web documentation.
Dec 2005FreshTags 0.3major re-write: combined list/select layouts, customisation, multiple tags, tag extraction from referrer pathnames; FreshTags given a name; build and test pages created.
Oct 2005Release 0.2separate scripts handled select and list layouts; used published JSON feeds from; added archive page recognition
Sep 2005Release 0.1used wget and grep to scrape pages for tag names and counts to augment blog navigation, ftping the resulting javasript to a server


If you want to find out what's going on, throw in some ideas or ask questions, head over to Freshblog and dive in. You can contact me directly at, although I'd prefer it if troubleshooting and support queries went through the blog, so as to build up a knowledge base and avoid redundancy.

To-do List

As a collaborative work-in-progress, there's a never-ending list of additions and enhancements to make. Feel free to share your ideas, experiences and suggestions. Or even better: code. Working, documented code. With explanations for the hard bits.

What else? You tell us. Head over to Freshblog and join the fray.

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