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A webslice of IE 8

Posted by Michael Bloch in web development (Saturday May 3, 2008 )

Internet Explorer 8 will be available as a more stable beta for Joe Surfer soon and one of the interesting features I’ve been reading about recently are “webslices” and how they relate to ecommerce.

I’ve been reading about it rather than trying it out myself as IE Beta 1 is aimed at web developers and designers (read: buggy as all get-go). Once Beta 2 is out, then I’ll risk installing it – I really don’t have the time or inclination to be reinstalling everything on my notebook if IE 8 throws a hissy fit :)

Anyhow, a webslice is a little like RSS, except instead of subscribing to a feed, you can subscribe to an *element* of a page. You’ll then receive update notifications at a user defined period (which can also be controlled by the developer) when that element or particular item changes.

For example, let’s say you’re cruising eBay and see an item you’re interested in. With webslice functionality enabled, you’ll be able to subscribe to that item by clicking on the webslice icon which is then added to their Favorites list. To see new bids on that item, it’s just a matter of clicking the associated Favorites icon.

A retailer will be able to have the webslice programmed so that the icon in the user’s list changes color when a change has been made to a product in their online store. It could also be used as a handy indicator for customers when an out of stock items becomes available again. I’m sure dozens of uses will be found for this feature.

It appears programming the functionality is relatively straightforward, just a couple of lines of code. If you’re brave, you can download IE8 Beta 1 here and try out the webslice feature here. The webslice format specification can be viewed here.


3 comments for A webslice of IE 8
  1. Webslices are pretty cool. I’d also recommend you check out Activities (although I’m guessing you already have!) Your right, IE8 is a bit buggy still, but I’d say it’s worth a try. I’m with Me.dium, and Microsoft actually presented our Webslice Discovery and Activity pieces at the IE8 launch. Me.dium’s Webslice Discovery tool allows you to identify which sites around you have Webslices, and Me.dium’s Activity enables you to see a real-time view of what’s hot around the content you select. We’d love for you to check them out and give us your thoughts.

    me.dium username: pjn

    Comment by Peter — May 5, 2008 @ 10:10 am

  2. As webslices and activities are also available in Firefox 3 I wrote an article on how to implement them easily.

    Comment by halfdan — May 25, 2008 @ 4:35 am

  3. I’m using IE8 Beta1 on my everyday box. It’s working well for me.

    Comment by Jon Box — June 21, 2008 @ 8:14 pm

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