Add value to your blog with Apture


I detest pop-ups on websites, especially the ones that so obtrusively steal your mouse whenever you move it across a web page and unexpectedly pop up something in a window.

Ads are the worst although those pop-ups with either RSS text or a screenshot of another website or blog run a close second (I’m thinking of you, Snap).

Today, though, I’m experimenting with something on this blog that does produce pop-up windows, yet the implementation is so elegantly done that I think it adds significant value to the content here and thus to your visiting experience.

The service is Apture which I discovered being used as a test on the BBC News website.

What Apture does is add a new dimension to a blog or other website that provides you with a window to a richer content experience by unobtrusive linking in a snapshot view, as it were, to reference articles, video, audio, documents, maps or almost any other content elsewhere on the web.

Often, the snapshot view of something presented in a small window is all you need to see when you want to get a quick definition of something, or see some other content, all in a way that doesn’t distract you entirely from what you’re primarily reading or watching and doesn’t take you away from the site you’re currently on.

It’s a practical example of the semantic web in action.

apture-example Notice the little icons in front of a few (not all) of the hyperlinks in this post? If you either click on one of those links, or hover your mouse over one for more than a second, you’ll see what Apture does.

The screenshot here shows an example from another post on this blog where the link shows content from Wikipedia in a pop-up window.

You can try it yourself with links in this post that go to Wikipedia reference sources. Go ahead, give it a try!

What about other content? Well, here’s an example – a link to a PowerPoint presentation I’ve uploaded to Scribd.

Click the link and you’ll see the presentation in a small pop-up window.

And how about audio? Here’s an example: the last episode of the FIR podcast, presented to you in a small player window where you can listen right here and now.

From a blogger’s point of view, using Apture is quite straightforward. I write and publish my post as usual, either using an offline editor like Windows Live Writer or online in my blog’s own editor.

I don’t manually add the Apture links; that’s done automatically when the post is published as the Apture plugin for WordPress automatically sees the links and adds the little icons and other functionality via its API.

In addition to WordPress, Apture has plugins for other popular blog platforms.

Not only that, I can also directly edit Apture content settings on the blog itself, on published posts, via the Apture dashboard. That gives me a lot of control over content and what I want to display with Apture.

And a very useful wiki-like editing features lets you provide multiple blog authors with access to Apture.

Check out Apture for yourself and watch the rather good video tour. I’ve only scratched its surface in this post.

I think this is one of the most useful enhancements for blogs and other websites that money can buy (well, actually, it’s free), from both the publisher’s and the reader’s points of view.

Do you agree? Do you find it useful or obtrusive?

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