Create word clouds and analyse text with Textal

Word clouds are a good way to visually represent the frequency of words in a piece of writing. While there are plenty of apps available that will automatically generate word clouds, a new app for IOS devices aims to make word clouds even more useful. Textal turns a text passage into a word cloud and also includes some interesting tools for analysing word usage.

A Textal cloud can be created using the text from a web page, a Twitter feed or one of the sample books provided. There’s also an option to simply cut some text from another app and paste it into Textal. Like most word cloud apps you can choose different fonts and themes (though there are no fancy shapes like Tagxedo). You can also choose to set the number of words displayed in your cloud. Once you create the cloud you’ll be presented with a pretty standard word cloud, with the most frequent words displayed in the largest text. Check out our sample Textal word cloud of #vicpln tweets here.

Textal lets you choose basic font and theme options, and clouds can be created from text, a web page or Twitter. In this case we’re creating a cloud of VicPLN tweets.

It’s when you tap on a a particular word that Textal begins to get really useful. This will display statistics about the frequency of word usage, the relationship of this word to other words, the overall word count and the number of unique words used in the document. The word cloud is also created online (though statistics aren’t available unless you open the cloud in the Textal app). Each Textal word cloud also has a unique QR code to make sharing easier.

Textal provides a breakdown of the number of unique words used, the popularity of your chosen word and the relationship to other words.

Textal is a relatively new release and is currently only available on Apple devices. At this stage it looks like it also requires access to a Twitter account (though it doesn’t auto post without your permission). This may make it difficult for students to use unless you have a shared class Twitter account.  Despite these possible drawbacks, Textal is definitely a useful tool for helping students analyse word usage in their writing and visualising the frequency of words they have used.

Download Textal from the Itunes store


Snap is a tool that can be used if you have a blog, wiki or other webpage. Snap takes your links and automatically adds visual snap shots of them for your readers.

Snap shots home
Snap shots home

Accounts are free and easy to set up. There are only a couple of steps:

Set up page
Set up page
  • choose the colour for your theme
  • add a logo if you have one
  • select the language you want
  • register
  • copy the code automatically generated to your webpage.

The easiest way to add the Snap code to a WordPress page (including Edublogs and Globalteacher) was to:

  • copy the code given
  • go to widgets
  • add ‘text’
  • save
  • edit ‘text’ and paste the code
  • save.

All of the links, whether they be within posts or not, now appear with a snap shot once a mouse is hovered over it. Snap is a tool that is quick and easy to use and add visual appeal to blogs, wikis and websites. It adds visual information for users as they can see what the website belonging to the link looks like before they decide to visit it.

Snap shots are already used by eBay, Amazon, Google, Flickr, photobucket and Wikipedia. If you decide you don’t want to see Snaps on Bright Ideas, just click the Options icon in the upper right corner of the Snap Shot and opt-out.

Please note that you can also customise the advertising away from what Snap has selected by going to ‘Snap Shares’ within the Snap site and adding your own blog, wiki, etc. URL. And if you have a lot of links on your page, like Bright Ideas, you may find that Snap takes up too much room.