Embed ALOE information into your web pages

May 1st, 2010 by Martin

We now offer to embed information from ALOE into other web pages! Simply put this code on your web page:

<script type="text/javascript">
// <![CDATA[
var aloeUrl = 'http://aloe-project.de';
var borderWidth = '1px';
var borderColor = '#FF9933';
document.writeln( '<iframe width="190" height="120" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" marginheight="0" marginwidth="0" src="' + aloeUrl + '/AloeView/ajax/getResourceMetadataAsHtmlPage?bookmarkUri=' + encodeURIComponent( location.href ) + '&bookmarkTitle=' + encodeURIComponent(document.title) + '〈=en' + '&borderWidth=' + encodeURIComponent(borderWidth) + '&borderColor=' + encodeURIComponent(borderColor) + '" ></iframe>' );
// ]]>

As a result, you’ll get something like this with information from ALOE about the respective page:

Embeddable ALOE information

You can specify the color and size of the border with the variables borderWidth and borderColor.

New features: Enhanced Collection and Group Support

December 16th, 2009 by Martin

In the recent weeks, we added some additional support for collections and groups (especially for group administrators). Some of the added functionality was already on our list for a long time, but sometimes things that seem pretty straightforward turn out to be quite tricky…


Like you put photos in an album, you can also put resources in a collection. A collection can be related to a certain event, a topic, whatever you like. To create such a collection, simply click on My Collections. You can add resources to and remove resources from collections on the respective resource detail page by clicking on the link Add to Collection.

In the last updates, we added the following functionalities for collections:

  • Collections are public now: When a resource is part of a collection, this information is displayed in the the right column of the respective resource detail page, and people can see what other resources are part of this collection - of course respecting the visibility of the resources, i.e., you can of course have resources with restricted visibility in your collections, they can only be accessed by yourself or the users in the respective closed groups.
  • Edit collections: For every collection that you find on the My Collections page, you will now find a link Edit. There, you can edit the title and description of a collection, and you can also delete it.
  • Easy removing of resources from collections: When you look at the list of resources inside your collections, you will now see a new link Remove from Collection under each resource description.

    Remove a resource from a Collection


Most of the changes here only affect group administrators. For them, we offer two new functionalities:

  • Remove resources from a group: In group resource search results and the list of all group resources, you now find a new button Remove from Group under each resource description (similar to the one that allows to remove resources from a collection). You can also do this now in a more convenient way on the detail page of a resource - we added a respective link for group administrators in the right column where the groups are shown.

    Remove a Resource from a Group

    Please note that for resources with visibility ‘group’, removing them from the group means deleting the resources as well as all bookmarks on them! So take care…

  • Delete a group: On the group administration page, you now also find a button I want to delete this group. We recommend that before deleting a group, you first send a message to the group members and tell them that they have the possibility to export the group resources by using Export Resources (some more information about this functionality in the next post). When you delete a group, ALOE will send a message to all members to inform them that the group has been deleted.
    Important: If you delete a closed group, all group resources with visibility ‘group’ as well as the annotations for them (tags, comments, ratings etc.) will be deleted from the system!

Finally, we also added some new sort criteria for group lists: We now offer to sort groups by Alphabet, Date, Number of Members and Number of Resources.

New features: email reports

November 18th, 2009 by Martin

In the last post, I wrote about the feeds that we now offer in ALOE. Bringing information to users in a convenient way is an important issue - but what about users that don’t like feeds, and what about information that is not publicly available, but only in closed groups? Well, you already know the answer: For these scenarios, we offer several email reports you can subscribe to!
Once you are member of a group, you can subscribe to daily or weekly group activity reports. This is offered on the respective group overview page, and you can also see all your subscriptions on the page My Preferences.
By the way - after several discussions with our early adopters, we decided not to send any information in daily reports when nothing happened in a group, and we also decided to aggregate the information of several reports into just one email. We hope that this feature is useful for you, and we’re of course open for any feedback and suggestions!

New features - feeds, feeds, feeds!

November 16th, 2009 by Martin

It’s always interesting to see what’s going on in your network. Especially, when this information comes to you in a convenient way. For a long time, we only offered feeds that contained information about new resources in an open group. Now, we offer a variety of feeds with information about a broad range of activities:

  • Feed for activities on your resources: This feed provides information about all activities on your resources. See who commented on stuff, see who added something to his/her portfolio, etc. You find the feed URL on the page My Resources or under your buddy icon on the page My Profile.
  • User resource feed: Do you like the contributions of certain users? You can get information about new public resources of a user by subscribing to this feed. You find the URL under the buddy icon of the respective user’s profile page.
  • Group activities feed: All public activities related to the group (e.g., ‘join’ or ‘unsubscribe’) and group resources (e.g., when someone commented on a group resource) will be show here. You can find the feed URL on the new overview page for the respective group.
  • Resource search feed: If your are interested in new resources matching a certain search criterion, you can simply subscribe to the respective feed! Simply do the search that you like, and you’ll find a little feed icon in the upper right corner (close to the Sort Criterion Selector).

The feeds are all valid Atom 1.0 feeds, and even Thunderbird can read them. But that’s a different story about specs and how some people ignore them ;-)
What is very important: Of course we respect your privacy! Nobody can see when a resource was viewed, and also rating information will always be anonymous. Only information that a user without login could also see will be provided. Thus, we also don’t offer any feeds for closed groups. But you can still follow what’s going on with our new email reports - these will be covered in the next post, stay tuned!

Introducing new features - Parallel bookmarking

November 12th, 2009 by Martin

A lot has happened in the recent months, I guess it’s also time to talk about some of the news! So in the coming posts, I’ll introduce some new ALOE features and write about diverse improvements. I’ll start with a feature that was essential for me: the parallel upload of bookmarks to other platforms.

I’m using social bookmarking systems (especially Diigo and Delicious) for a long time. First of all, because these tools are great and really helpful if I can access my bookmarks wherever I am and whatever computer I use. Secondly, because this offers the chance to exchange information with friends and colleagues that also use these platforms. So although I like ALOE a lot (hey, it’s my baby), I still don’t want to miss the other systems. So I’m happy when I can use ALOE, but simultaneously add the respective information to my other social bookmarking systems with no extra effort. This is extra nice when you use a closed version of ALOE that is not visible for everyone. E.g., here in the Knowledge Management Department of DFKI, our group uses an ALOE instance (we call it ALOE@KM) which is not accessible from outside DFKI. We use it to share a variety of stuff, sometimes about research, science, and technology, and sometimes (I guess even more often) about fun stuff (wait, of course research, science and technology can also be fun stuff!) When I want to share stuff that should not be visible to anyone else, this is fine. But when it’s a public content that I also want to share with my colleagues, I don’t want to contribute the stuff twice. So now I can simply click the bookmarklet and decide if I also want to upload it to other systems (including the public ALOE!).

Enough talking: If you want to use this feature, click on MyPreferences and enter your credentials for the services you also want to use:

Parallel Bookmarking in ALOE (Preferences page)

As you see, you can also decide to have an automatic status update in Twitter whenever you add a new bookmark!

Once you’ve chosen one ore more services, you’ll see some additional information whenever you add new bookmark to ALOE:


To have full control of what you do (e.g., when you want to distinguish between internal and external resources), you always can unselect chosen services when adding a bookmark. And of course you will be notified when something didn’t work - it would be nasty to find out later that all the stuff you thought would also be available on your selected bookmarking services didn’t arrive!

I hope you enjoy this functionality as much as I do! And if you want us to add other services (by the way, we already integrated BibSonomy in our KM instance of ALOE, but have to do some fine-tuning first) - simply send an email, we’ll check what we can do.

New features for ALOE!

May 6th, 2009 by Martin

ALOE got some useful and long-expected new features. Maybe they are also exciting, I leave this up to you ;-)

  • My Tags allows you to manage your tags.
  • Group membership is now shown on the resource detail pages. Group admins can resign resources from a group.
  • Overview pages for groups.
  • New feeds for activities in groups, on your resources, and about a user’s new resources.
  • The new advanced search offers a lot of filtering capabilities.

Check them out now! Or read on and get some more details…

My Tags: Here you can manage your tags. See what tags you already used, rename your tags, delete them…

My Tags

Resource detail page: In the right column, you now can see to which groups the resource already had been shared to. This of course excludes closed groups where you are not a member! In the menu ‘Share to group’, you now can also see to which groups the resource already had been shared to. Furthermore, you can now resign resources from a group, when you are the group admin. Otherwise, the checkbox will be disabled.

Resource detail view

Groups: Until now, clicking on a group’s title always led to the group resources. This has changed: the title now links to the new overview page for the group. Of course you can still get to the group resources, using the link “Show Resources”. Furthermore, you can now also search for resources within groups, and you can invite others to join a group by clicking “Invite a Friend”.

Overview page for a group

Feeds: We offer the following new feeds:

  • Group activities feed: All public activities related to the group (e.g., ‘join’ or ‘unsubscribe’) and group resources (e.g., when someone commented on a group resource) will be show here. You can find the feed URL on the new overview page for the respective group.
  • Feed for activities on your resources: This feed provides information about all activities on resources that you find in “My Resources”. You find the feed URL on the page “My Resources” or under your buddy icon on the page “My Profile”.
  • User resource feed: You can get information about new public resources of a user by subscribing to this feed. You find the URL under the buddy icon of the respective user’s profile page.

IMPORTANT: Of course we respect your privacy! Nobody can see when a resource was viewed, and also ratings will be anonymous. Only information that a user without login could also see will be provided. This also means that we can’t offer any feeds for closed groups. We work on this topic and will soon also provide reports in a different way.

Explore Members: Explore -> Members now directly leads to the ALOE users.

Advanced Search: The new advanced search offers a broad range of new possibilities to query the ALOE resources:

  • Search fields: Different search terms can be used for different fields (e.g., title, tags, creator, description).
  • Filter by resource type: You can restrict your search to bookmark resources or file resources with specific mime types (e.g., audio, video, documents).
  • Filter by date: Choose a certain period of time for the date the resources were first added.
  • Filter by license: Only search within creative commons licensed resources, or even more specific, within contents that may be commercially used and/or modified.

Advanced Search

And of course we VERY MUCH appreciate your feedback!!

OPENEER @ BBC+Goldsmiths - “UK Science Roadshow”

April 24th, 2009 by Stephan


Yves Raimond finished his Ph.D at Queen Mary and moved on to BBC. To lay his hands on the real digital world of music experiences. His baby DBTune is an exciting way to use the Linking Open Data resources with a special focus on music. I thought it would be a good idea to meet him and discuss about the potential for combining DBTune with OPENEER. Around our discussion Yves arranged a seminar talk where I presented OPENEER to a group of BBC engineers and designers.

The next day I did the same thing for the researchers at Goldsmiths. Daniel Müllensiefen, an expert for symbolic music features, is currently expanding his work on melody features towards emotional findings. Again I received valuable expert feedback about features for future releases of OPENEER.

Generating Tag Clouds

April 23rd, 2009 by Martin

Currently, ALOE provides tag clouds in two different contexts: On the welcome page we display a cloud with the most popular tags in the system, and on the detail page of a resource, we show which tags have been assigned to this resource so far (this is also displayed as a cloud because we follow a bag model for tagging resources). In our tag clouds, we don’t do any clustering based on relations between tags, and we don’t care about smart placement of the tags - although this would surely be interesting. It’s just a matter of time and where to spend your energy ;-) So we only try to map a tag’s frequency to a certain font size. I’ll now explain how we have built the tag clouds until now, and how we will do it in the future. Therefore, let

  • n be the number of different font sizes you want to use,
  • f_min the lowest and f_max the highest frequency of a tag in the cloud, and
  • f_t the frequency of a given tag t

Until now, we followed a very straightforward approach to generate these tag clouds (I’ll write it down a bit sloppily, but I’m sure you can follow): We choose the 50 most frequently assigned tags, looked at the difference f_max-f_min and divided it by n to have the same frequency range r for each available font size. Then we simply assigned all tags t with f_min <= f_t < f_min +r to the smallest font size, the ones with a frequency f_min + r <= f_t < f_min +2r to the next font size and so on and so on. We knew that this approach isn’t very smart, but good enough for most use cases. And it always worked nice in all ALOE scenarios, so we didn’t put any more effort in it. But then, our colleagues from MACE pointed us to a problem with the tag cloud generated by ALOE. What was the problem? Here’s a screenshot taken from the Social Search page in MACE:

Old MACE Tag Cloud in MACE

Here is how it looks if displayed with the ALOE front end:

Old MACE Tag Cloud in ALOE

So we have one really big tag - namely “iuav_test” - and all other tags are displayed with the same, smallest font size. The reason for this is simple:The frequencies are not equally distributed within the tags to be displayed, and that’s what we assume when we generate a tag cloud in the way I explained. In fact, we have the following frequencies in this example:

  • iuav_test: 176
  • glass: 29
  • light: 25
  • diagram: 16
  • unreadeble: 14
  • vanderrohe: 4

It is clear what happened: With 5 available font sizes, we have (176-4)/5=34.4 as the frequency range for each font size - so everything except for “iuav_test” is displayed with the smallest font size. So what can we do to deal with such outliers or big skips between frequencies of the tags? We decided that we want to have the following characteristics in our tag clouds:

  • It should work like it did before for equally distributed tags, but also for other cases.
  • Tags with a similar frequency should be displayed with a similar font size in the cloud.
  • A big skip in the frequency distribution should result in a big skip in the font size.
  • We still want to use as many font sizes as possible.

After some brainstorming, we decided to implement the following algorithm:

T:=the set with all tags to be displayed
i:=1, r:=(f_max-f_min)/n
while(T is not empty)

T_i:= the set of all tags t in T with f_min <= f_t < f_min +r
if (T_i is empty)

i:=i+1 /* one font size won’t be used */
f_min:=the lowest frequency of a tag in T

This is still quite simple, but it does a nice job and fulfills all the demanded criteria. As a default, it still uses the same frequency range for all font sizes. When we find a tag for each range (i.e. font size), the algorithm does exactly the same as the original one. But as soon as we don’t find a tag for a certain range, we do the following things:

  1. We still skip this range, so that there is a corresponding skip in the visualization.
  2. We look at the remaining tags that we still have to distribute and look for what’s the lowest frequency of a tag. Then we use this new f_min to calculate a new default range for the remaining tags and font sizes.
  3. We continue recursively.

And here’s the resulting tag cloud for the above example:

Old MACE Tag Cloud in ALOE

Much better now, I think!


February 25th, 2009 by Martin

Once again, ALOE will be presented at the CeBIT in Hannover next week. You can find us at the DFKI stand (B45) in hall 9. I will be there from Monday to Thursday - just drop by! In the same hall, MACE (using ALOE as the backbone for community functionalities) will be presented at the Fraunhofer stand (B36), don’t miss this!

Join OPENEER 2009: The Emotional Music Revolution :)

January 12th, 2009 by Stephan


Thanks to the ALOE core developer team everything will be even better in 2009 for OPENEER: More features, slim design, stable core system. OPENEER is waiting for thousands of users and millions of songs raising goosebumps!

Thanks to the first people who have spent time and passion with the first version of OPENEER in 2008. Special thanks to Basti Hirsch for the great shot above!

Join in!

PS: I promise to work harder on the promotion of OPENEER via mailing-lists, Twitter, Facebook, Blogs, etc…

PPS: Please help to spread the message!

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