Add (useful) pop-up links to your blog with Apture

Make lazy blogging easy with this blogging tool.

Apture is a new tool for bloggers to add a little more context to their posts. Like Yahoo's Shortcuts it will go over what you've written and add little pop-ups in places where you link to other sites or media items from around the Web. The big difference is that Apture can either do all this automatically or let you to do the legwork.

It's set up to work with popular sites like Flickr, Amazon, Wikipedia, and Scribd. Any link to one of those sites will simply enable whoever clicks on it to see the entire entry in a small expanding pop-up window that can either stay affixed to the link text or be dragged around the page like a floating widget. The effect is actually pretty neat--and manages to keep your readers on the page, even if you've got a heap of linked items. If you want to manually link up any word or phrase in your post you simply highlight it, and you'll be given a huge list of items from photos, videos, audio clips and text links to link straight to it without using copy and paste or your CMS.

The site debuted back in mid-April with something called "the experience" which is basically what anyone can now do to their blogs. (Check it out here.) Supported are all the usual suspects like WordPress, TypePad, and Blogger. There are also simple script plug-ins for maybe some of the lesser known publishing tools like Tumblr, Ning, and Blogsome. The install itself is just a line of JavaScript no matter what platform you're on.

What makes it a standout compared to some other services that do this is that each Apture link can be picked from a multitude of places. For instance, in my test account on a Tumbr blog I linked up a mention of Google Maps with a link to the service. I was also able to expand on that with a related media section that let me add all sorts of other items like the Wikipedia entry, a YouTube video, and a large screenshot. All of these things could be seen without me having to add additional links, and as a reader you can see all of this without venturing off my post.

Another service that does this without some of the eye candy pop-ups is Zemanta which I really enjoyed using. As I mentioned back when I reviewed it, tools like these make blogging far easier while simultaneously making the end product a richer experience as long as these pop-up links are used with some restraint. I think the last thing anybody wants when reading a blog post is to have things flying around the screen, which is why I hope Apture's key improvements in the future include giving the readers a quick way to disable some of the eye candy that can make tools like this distracting instead of useful.

Check out the walkthough video of how to use the tool below.

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