Create a dynamic Web Slice in 5 minutes


Web Slices are a cool new feature in Internet Explorer 8! With Web Slices, users can add little snippets of the web to the favorites bar and monitor their updates. Web Slices were introduced in a previous post here.  In this post, I want to walk you through creating a dynamic Web Slice in as little as 5 minutes!


What is a dynamic Web Slice?


Dynamic Web Slices use an Alternative Display Source (not to be confused with Alternative Update Source). As the name suggests, the content displayed in the preview actually comes from a “live” web page which the Web Slice points to.  They are an addition based on feedback from the Beta 1 release of Internet Explorer and facilitate styling and cookie handling for authentication. A key advantage is that the web page is rendered in the preview window without losing any styling elements or active content. Hosting active content was not possible with static slices (Web Slices not using alternative display source). Static slices generate a preview of the sanitized entry-content element cached by the Windows RSS Platform which is stripped of script and other active content. Here is an example of a dynamic Web Slice from Live Search which has the display source pointing to a page on www.live.com rather than displaying cached content from the RSS store.


picture a a live.com seattle weather webslice.


Web Slices using Alternative Display Source also make it easy for web developers to enable authentication within the preview window itself as well as have their customers protected against common internet security vulnerabilities such as Phishing and identity theft. Later this week we will be posting more details about Web Slice authentication. 


Moreover, a dynamic Web Slice is easy (and fun!) to create! So, set the clock for 5 minutes and let’s go right into making one!


Creating a “live display” Web Slice


Let’s start with this basic template WebSlice.htm –

<html>
<head>
<title>Web Slice Example</title>
</head>
<body>
<div class=”hslice” id=”SliceID”>
<span class=”entry-title”>Slice Title</span>
<a rel=”entry-content” href=”LivePreviewPage.htm” style=”display:none;”>Alternative Display Source – LivePreviewPage.htm</a>
<p>Updates occur every <span class=”ttl”>15</span> minutes.</p>
<a rel=”bookmark” href=”LivePreviewPage.htm” style=”display:none;”>Bookmark – LivePreviewPage.htm</a>
</div>
</body>
</html>

The class hslice helps Internet Explorer identify this snippet as a Web Slice. Fill in the template with the Web Slice id and title. Both are required properties. The title is displayed on the Favorites bar when the user adds the Web Slice.


The link tag’s entry-content attribute specifies the alternative display web page which is the source of the content displayed in the preview window of the Web Slice. This is where the RSS platform will look to see if anything has changed. The URL of the alternative display page is displayed in the navigation band at the bottom of the preview window.


The ttl property is optional and sets the default sync schedule for the Web Slice. This time can be modified to a higher value by the user. The user can hit the refresh button on the navigation band to refresh the alternative display web page within the preview window.


The optional bookmark property can be used to navigate to the alternative display web page (or any other page) when the user clicks on the Go arrow on the navigation band. The page is then opened in the current tab in the browser.


That’s it! You’re done! Wasn’t that super easy?


Serving “live” content


A few key things to note here -


As per the sync schedule, the Windows RSS Platform will ping WebSlice.htm, not LivePreviewPage.htm (the display source).



  1. If there is any change in WebSlice.htm, a fresh copy of WebSlice.htm is fetched. When the user clicks on the Web Slice, the current copy of LivePreviewPage.htm is served and cached.

  2. If there is no change to the title and entry-content property of WebSlice.htm, when the user clicks on the Web Slice, the previously cached copy of LivePreviewPage.htm is served. In this case, there could be inconsistency between the preview window display and the actual web page.

In both cases, if the user manually hits refresh, the current copy of LivePreviewPage.htm is displayed and cached. Thus, here are a few tips in order to ensure that the content in the preview window is “live” -



  • Update WebSlice.htm for changes to reflect in accordance with the set sync schedule.

  • If you want to make sure that the user always sees a “live” copy of LivePreviewPage.htm every time she clicks on the Web Slice add the no-cache Cache Control header to LivePreviewPage.htm. This will ensure that the display in the preview window is always consistent with the actual LivePreviewPage.htm.

  • You can also change the title on WebSlice.htm to update with the sync schedule. This is especially useful if you want to display the updated temperature in the title bar for a weather Web Slice.

  • Another optional property you can use is endtime. This specifies the expiration time of a Web Slice. For example, it can be used to indicate an expired item for an auction Web Slice.

<span class=”endtime” title=”25 Jul 2008 17:30:00 PST” style=”display:none;”>Expiration Time</span>

Design a usable dynamic Web Slice


Dynamic Web Slices retain all the styles from the preview web page, including those inherited from external stylesheets and look just like the actual web pages. However, there are a few things to bear in mind –



  1. The default size for dynamic Web Slices is 320×240. We strongly recommend that you design your Web Slices to conform to this size. Users do have the option of manually resizing a Web Slice for their convenience, but we wouldn’t like to compel them to do so in order to see all your content.

  2. Another consideration to bear in mind is performance. We encourage you to leverage the functionality available with dynamic Web Slices, but to make sure that it renders in less than 500ms to keep the preview window usable.

  3. While users are able to navigate within the preview window itself, it is not encouraged to host navigations to complex pages. The preview window has stricter security restrictions and blocks dialogs, the Information bar, popups etc.  Moreover, Web Slices are a great way to attract users to your actual web site and you can explicitly set links in preview windows to open in a new tab in the browser by using the target=”_blank” attribute. Note that cross zone navigations from the preview window are blocked.


<a href=”http://www.example.com” target=”_blank”>This link will open in the new tab in the browser</a>

The Web Slice Style Guide has a section on Web Slices using Alternative Display Source containing great tips to make your Web Slices look pretty!


You can see how simple and useful they can be! I hope that you will have fun creating really neat Web Slices for your web pages. The IE 8 Gallery has a ton of great Web Slices along with other IE add-ons.


Ritika Virmani
Program Manager
Internet Explorer  – Web Slices and Navigation


Update 3/9/09: Updated the code samples for better accessibility.  Thanks Benjamin Hawkes-Lewis for the feedback. 


Comments (50)

  1. michael says:

    seriously get over web slices, no one is excited about them. everyone just wants a standards compliant browser so we can stop developing for ie6/7. anyone who knows how to use web slices will know how to use firefox, and ie8 will only be used by those who don’t know the difference between a browser, the web, the internet and google

  2. Christian says:

    Could you please, please, please require the use of <head profile="foo"> when looking for web slices.

    Microformats are terribly broken – worse than tag sou, because browsers start to impute behavior on random class names inside of pages. So please require the use of the "profile" attribute and work out with the HTML5 guys whether profile could be left in HTML5 or what its successor will be.

    If Microsoft had implemented XHTML in a timely fashion the abomination of microformats would never have become necessary. Now at least go and limit the damage by requiring a proper HTML profile before poking around in people’s class names. (And by the way, what IS with XHTML support in IE? I know that XHTML ist considered dead. That’s easy to understand because who needs HTML extensibility, when you can mess up accessibility by adding data into title attributes and avoid properly specified  behavior by assigning a behavior to random class names, right? Oh well.)

  3. Dave says:

    Michael,

    Why don’t you try making useful comments instead of negative ones?

    The majority use an IE browser of some kind so just make your sites work with them and stop moaning. Making sites work in IE should come first then other browsers. Standards compliant or not, if I can do it for myself and my clients, so can you.

    Get a life…or maybe some training?

  4. Christian says:

    By the way: why on earth do you use anchors for your auto-discovery

    <a rel="entry-content" ref="LivePreviewPage.htm" style="display:none;"></a>

    Have you ever heard of link? Even IE can detect search providers and feeds based on the <link> tag. Why on EARTH you recommend (and in fact even allow) an unnecessary workaround like <a rel="entry-content" style="display:none;">. This is so horribly broken that it hurts.

    PLEASE, PLEASE reconsider this and use link and ignore a for such purposes.

  5. michael says:

    @Dave

    I never said that I couldn’t do it. It is fact that about 70% of my website(s)’ visitors use IE so obviously I have to code my sites to work perfectly fine in IE. And most of the problems are documented so its pretty easy to make a cross browser compliant website.

    My apologies for dissing web slices. I think the work MS have done to bring IE8 up to pass ACID 2 tests is great and I’m really excited about it. For me, and a lot of other developers out there, its just too little too late to care about other proprietary features MS are bringing in

  6. frank says:

    @Ritika: "Dynamic Web Slices retain all the styles from the preview web page, including those inherited from external stylesheets and look just like the actual web pages."

    Wrong! They most certainly do not because Web Slices are ALWAYS rendered in IE7 Standards/Quirks mode, NEVER in IE8 Standards Mode.  Confirmed as WONT-FIX for IE8 on Connect.

    Please don’t ever skimp around the technical details and limitations when posting data on the IE Blog it will only haunt you later when developers complain you weren’t honest up front. (Keep this in mind when you post about the lack of authentication options in your upcoming post)

  7. Ted says:

    I think Christian is right.

    <a rel="entry-content" ref="LivePreviewPage.htm" style="display:none;"></a>

    Is a complete mistake on many fronts.

    1.) Its a link tag with no text content, no anchor name, and no link

    2.) The attribute specifying where to look deviates from ALL existing naming conventions.  We already have href and src, please for the love of Pete do not add another

    3.) As Christian pointed out, we have a tag for this purpose already.  Use it.

    The revised tag should be something like this:

    <link rel="entry-content" href="LivePreviewPage.htm"/>

    This is much better since:

    a.) It won’t render by default, therefore there is no need to hack in a style attribute just to hide it.

    b.) It follows the existing syntax for including "alternateive" content (e.g. alternative CSS stylesheets)

    c.) The attribute that points to the file source is href which is CONSISTENT with existing link tags, hyperlinks, etc.

    Please seriously reconsider the syntax you indicated earlier before you re-break the Web again.

    Ted

  8. @ Ritika Virmani

    > you can explicitly set links in preview windows to open in a new tab in the browser by using the target="_blank" attribute.

    <a href="http://www.example.com&quot; target="_blank">This link will open in the new tab …

    Not true. Otherwise, this web slice implementation changes the implementation of target="_blank".

    http://www.w3.org/TR/html401/present/frames.html#h-16.3.2

    states

    "

    _blank

       The user agent should load the designated document in a new, unnamed window.

    "

    http://www.w3.org/TR/html401/types.html#type-frame-target

    How do I create a link that opens a new window? from WDG web authoring FAQ

    http://www.htmlhelp.com/faq/html/links.html#new-window

    regards, Gérard

  9. @ Ritika Virmani

    <a rel="entry-content" ref="LivePreviewPage.htm" style="display:none;"></a>

    Christian and Ted are right. An empty link is a coding practice widely acknowledged as bad, not recommendable. Same thing with empty anchors (Ie <a name="top"></a>; in the form of #fragment.)

    "

    Each A element defines an anchor

      1. The A element’s content defines the position of the anchor.

    "

    http://www.w3.org/TR/html4/struct/links.html#h-12.2

    regards, Gérard

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  11. Dan says:

    <<changes the implementation of target="_blank".>>

    The implementation of that changed when tabbed browsing was first introduced.  HTML’s notion of a "window" does not define the User-agent’s behavior in a graphical windowing system. Stated another way, HTMLWindow != Win32Window.  

    Depending on the user’s tabbed browsing session (IE, Firefox, or other), new HTMLWindows may result in Win32Tabs.

    <<Please seriously reconsider the syntax you indicated earlier>>

    Given that the anchor in question is "display:none", it seems unlikely to "break" any user-agent that supports CSS.

    <<ie8 will only be used by those who don’t know the difference between a browser, the web, the internet and google>>

    In other words, the vast majority of the world. That’s true, IE8 will probably only have the vast majority of marketshare, just like its predecessors.

  12. Jason says:

    the _blank should follow the users settings… which if they have selected the (legacy) open in new window… then so be it, but if they have chosen open in new tabs instead, then it should be in a new tab.

    it appears that some copy/paste has messed up the "href" attribute (thinking it was "ref") from the original sample (either that or MSFT updated the code sample without a footnote)

    either way the commenters are correct that it most certainly should not render as an empty link.

    i just confirmed that the slices do indeed render in IE7 mode (even if the doctype is set correctly) since IE8 is designed to default to standards mode this seems like a pretty major implementation bug.  lets not get IE8 rolling off the start with bugs in new features on day 1! (there is no broken legacy behavior to emulate here so a proper fix would duly be called for here)

    OMG! just followed the link to the MSDN docs… that messed up hyperlink stuff is contageous in your code!

    For the alt update url you re-abuse the hyperlik element AGAIN! (please! Stop!)

    <a rel="feedurl" href="update.html#auction-update" style="display:none;"></a>

    should be:

    <link rel="feedurl" href="update.html#auction-update"/ >

    Hey! you got one right! (if you have multiple slices on a page, you can set the default)

    <link rel="default-slice" type="application/x-hatom" href="#auction" />

    reading more…

    WebSlices are only supported at the top level of a page; they are not supported in frames.

    ok so no slices in iframes I guess.

    Next bug… favicons don’t work for Web Slices

    one note on the overall implementation…

    so the minimum time for a refresh is every 15min (good – this will curb server hammering)

    however once IE gets that an update has occured, and the slice goes bold… does it still keep hitting the server ~100 times a day if I don’t click the button?  E.g. if I am busy doing work/checking email, is IE/RSS in the background hammering all the sites I have added slices for?… even after it knows that there is an update, but I haven’t even bothered to view it?

    With a baseline of say 10 slices polling (10×96)= 960 times a day (esp. the 18 hours a day I’m not at my desk) this seems like a great way to pollute the Internet with wasted traffic.

    Can you clarify how the slices throttle themselves?

  13. David says:

    Instead of Microsoft concentrating on features, I think they need to make their web browser load pages faster. When webpages load in Safari or Firefox, they load heck of a lot faster than IE.

    I have been an IE 8 Beta tester for some time now. I liked it when it first came out. Sure, there were some glitches, but the webpages loaded faster. Now that RC1 is out, the web sites I go to cause the browser to crash or they just load slow. I switched to Safari, and my pages load faster then ever before and I have never had it crash on me.

    If I was Microsoft, I would scrap IE and redo it all over again. Maybe they can create a browser that loads pages faster, is secure, and won’t crash all the time.

  14. Michael says:

    > "In other words, the vast majority of the world. That’s true, IE8 will probably only have the vast majority of marketshare, just like its predecessors."

    IE’s market share has been and is continuing to drop

    Anyway, has anyone mentioned that target="_blank" is not valid XHTML 1.0 Strict markup?

  15. Theo says:

    >IE’s market share has been and is continuing to drop

    And yet it’s still twice as much as all other browsers combined.  Funny thing.

    >Anyway, has anyone mentioned that target="_blank" is not valid XHTML 1.0 Strict markup?

    Nicely reflecting the fact that the XHTML spec has little relationship to the needs and desires of the real-world web development community.

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  17. Michael says:

    >>Anyway, has anyone mentioned that target="_blank" is not valid XHTML 1.0 Strict markup?

    >Nicely reflecting the fact that the XHTML spec has little relationship to the needs and desires of the real-world web development community.

    Nicely reflecting the attitude of MS developers that have caused IE to be the non compliant dog that it is today. Opening new windows or tabs is a user choice not semantic markup. HTML is meant to describe content, not user experience. If you want to force that you should manipulate the DOM with JS. See this brilliant article on sitepoint. http://www.sitepoint.com/article/standards-compliant-world/

    > "And yet it’s still twice as much as all other browsers combined.  Funny thing."

    IE comes default with Windows which is used by about 90% of consumers. To most people Internet Explorer is the internet, because they don’t know any better. From people that I speak to anyone who knows about Firefox prefers it to IE. Anyone I speak to who doesn’t know about Firefox doesn’t care what a browser is.

  18. Theo says:

    >HTML is meant to describe content, not user experience.

    An academic argument in so much conflict with reality that it eventually collapsed under its own delusions.  

    The XHTML 1.1 spec authors added the target attribute to that version of the spec.

  19. gogo says:

    Web slices are simple to setup and can be of tremendous value if used properly.

    Despite the naysayers, I really like this feature.

    Nice IE.

  20. Christian says:

    Another note:

    Is there any specification how the relation is between class="endtime" and HTTP Cache headers/ Cache-related meta tags?

    What exactly were the reasons for introducing <abbr class="endtime" …? Could not people use metat tags instead, if they can’t control their server’s caching behavior? Maybe there is a reason behind this, if so, please explain, if not – please don’t reinvent yet another existing wheel.

    I think Jasons remarks about IE7 mode, reloading behavior and target="…" are also valid.

    The IE team has done a lot of sound technical work during IE8 development. Don’t spoil it with stuff like this.

    @gogo – I am really not against the idea behind web slices and I am not against Microsoft inventing new features, it’s the way _how_ it’s done that bothers me.

  21. Martin says:

    If web slices always render in IE7 mode, and our entire website render in IE8 mode, what is the best method to make web slices for our website without having to make to different versions of all the html. Having to write all our html twice, seems like a lot of work for no real benefit.

    Or is it as simply as: If we want web slices, we need to render our website in IE7 mode, because that’s the only way to avoid having to produce all html twice? Writing html take time.

  22. slipery slope says:

    @Martin – indeed.  We are now in an odd place where IE8 is playing the standards game finally, but at the same time making it very easy to completely disregard the progress/standards of the web (by forcing a site into IE7 mode (which is rampant over the Net right now)) as well as stopping progress… why would you render in standards mode when it is going to mess up your web slices?

    A total case of 1 step forward, 2 steps back.

    I certainly hope the current regression issues in IE8’s rendering will be resolved soon or again developers will have no reason to serve up pages in "IE8" Standards mode until IE9 fixes the issues (if at all).

  23. EricLaw [MSFT] says:

    @Christian: The EndTime attribute allows the site owner to specify that after a certain time, the web slice is no longer relevant (e.g. because the event has passed, the item will have been sold, etc) and avoid polluting the user’s favorites bar indefinitely with an unneeded item.  Essentially, it saves the user from the hassle of deleting irrelevant items.

    It is not related to the HTTP caching directives, as it serves a very different purpose.  HTTP caching directives specify when a cached version is no longer valid, forcing the user to hit the server to get a new copy.

    The intent of endtime is to allow the developer to automatically *stop* polling the server for updates for a given slice.

  24. Christian says:

    @EricLaw – thank you for clarifying the meaning of EndTime. This makes a lot of sense then.

  25. Tanzim Saqib says:

    Check out our gallery of dynamic Web Slices: http://LiveSlices.com/Gallery.aspx

  26. glastheim says:

    @Dan,

    "The implementation of that changed when tabbed browsing was first introduced.  HTML’s notion of a "window" does not define the User-agent’s behavior in a graphical windowing system. Stated another way, HTMLWindow != Win32Window.  

    Depending on the user’s tabbed browsing session (IE, Firefox, or other), new HTMLWindows may result in Win32Tabs."

    you are contradicting yourself here. the HTML spec says a target="_blank" should open in a new HTMLWindow, so it should NOT be presumed to be a tab.

    Whether target="_blank" means opening a new browser window or a new browser tab, it should be decided by custom settings in the user agent.

    So the statement that "you can explicitly set links in preview windows to open in a new tab in the browser by using the target="_blank" attribute." is wrong, since the target="_blank" attribute should explicitly set links to open in a new "window" (HTMLWindow), not to be confused with a new tab (browser tab).

  27. Eric Tee says:

    off-topic:

    Internet Explorer suddenly show .url extension for every favorites and links in Favorites Bar.

    http://img14.imageshack.us/img14/6827/98379027.png

    How to fix this issue?

  28. Martin says:

    Hi Microsoft have you thought about what happens if "web slices" become a success?

    Then other browsers will have to support it, and web slices may be yet an other W3c/Ecma standard.  

    How are that standard going to look? Either it will have to specify that web slices will be rendered in IE7 mode, in which case you will have to specify what that mean bug for bug.

    Or the standard will say that web slices contains valid html that the browser should render according to the relevant html standard.

    But in that case the problem is that IE8 will be unable to render a valid web slice because it use IE7 mode. (And IE9 will also be unable to render a web slice, because to remain compabilty with IE8, it will have to rendere web slices in IE7 mode).

    Can you see where this is heeding?

  29. chad says:

    @Open Web Standards – although March 16th is physically possible I’d certainly hope that isn’t the case.

    1.) MSFT (IMO) has lots to fix still.

    2.) MSFT needs to post about how IT Admins can block IE8 downloads for enterprise (keep in mind, many of those folks are still stuck on IE6!!)

    3.) MSFT needs to announce how they plan to do updates for IE8… e.g. will these just be available? or will they be marked serious, or critical?

    4.) MSFT still needs to address the developers comments on this blog that haven’t been answered.  Will slices BreakTheWeb[TM] again by not rendering in standards mode.  Have the various regression issues from IE7 been fixed yet?  Has the privacy bug with Windows Media Player been fixed yet?  Have all the rendering "jumpiness" issues been fixed?  Are slices going to be fixed to not rely on [a] elements in the markup for [meta] or [link] purposes?

    as Eric pointed out – don’t believe everything you read on other sites about actual dates.

  30. hAl says:

    @chad

    How to block IE8 automatic updates has been published ages ago on this blog.

    Enterprise customers generally don’t do automatic updates so I don’t know why you think they would be blocking IE8 anyways.

  31. Dan says:

    Chad,

    1) Your opinion.  Fine.  Of course, you don’t know what’s in their current build, so you really have no idea.

    2) Published months ago.  http://blogs.msdn.com/ie/archive/2009/01/06/ie8-blocker-toolkit-available-today.aspx

    3) You are confused.  Updates *for IE8* are marked based on what’s in them (e.g. the severity of the problem being fixed).  How the *browser itself* will be marked in the available updates list is described in the link just above.

    4) "BreakTheWeb" for slices is silly.  Slices are not a standard, and are not used by anyone else at this point, so it’s impossible to break the web.

    I really doubt they’re going to change from "A" to "LINK" *after* the release candidate; that’s a platform change, which they said they’re not doing.  Besides, y’all had a YEAR to complain about this and no one did.  Funny that.

    As remarked previously, the WMP behavior is a WMP issue, and is described in their privacy policy.  IE has nothing to do with it.

    As for regressions, see point #1.

  32. Dan says:

    glastheim: "you are contradicting yourself here."

    No, you’re just confused.

    "should open in a new HTMLWindow, so it should NOT be presumed to be a tab."

    On the contrary, the User-Agent can do whatever it likes, because the UserAgent’s UI behavior isn’t defined by the HTML spec.  

    The IE guys chose to put the HTMLWindow in a new tab in the webslice case. (Though, I bet it opens in a new Win32Window if the user turned offf tabbed browsing)

  33. Mitchel says:

    I noticed that the awesome Firebug Lite Tool won’t work in IE8 (in standards mode).

    It works fine in Compatability Mode though.

    I’m not sure if it is expecting broken IE7 behavior or if IE8 broke something but this should get fixed soon because, well, lets face it, the IE dev toolbar is the K-Car of Advanced Developer Tools.

    In the mean time does anyone know of any good addons for IE (that work in Standards mode) with great debugging features?

  34. Sheldon says:

    @Dan: "I really doubt they’re going to change from "A" to "LINK" *after* the release candidate; that’s a platform change, which they said they’re not doing.  Besides, y’all had a YEAR to complain about this and no one did.  Funny that."

    Yeah very funny indeed.  We were all busy trying to get IE8 to work at all!  Beta 1 was the most pathetic Beta I’ve ever seen of ANY piece of software ever!  Beta 2 was mildly better… better in the sense that it was at least usable and not scrolling automagically on you every time you moved the mouse.

    The Partner Build fixed some bugs, and added more… thankfully, just like WindowsME it didn’t last very long.

    Then RC1 came out, yippee! we’re almost there! – No Wait a second… all the crud that was broken in the last 3 releases… is still broken!  Select controls still look like a POS and iframes still don’t fire vertical resize events.  There’s a bunch of inline rendering regression issues and no word from MSFT that this stuff is going to get fixed.

    As for breaking the web (chad’s comment) I see exactly what he’s talking about.  Every time MSFT endorses ANY technology that RELIES on BROKEN IE6/7 rendering, they are 100% IMPEEDING the progress of the Web, and Web Standards.

    Read it any way you want.  As a Web Application Developer – I am [deleted] ticked off with the state of IE8 ATM.  I certainly hope that it gets fixed before the RTM ships.

  35. Benjamin Hawkes-Lewis says:

    Urgh. The example markup creates a lot of accessibility problems:

    1. /Pace/ Dan, anchor links without text content have been demonstrated to cause problems with common screen readers, even with "display: none;":

    http://yuiblog.com/blog/2008/01/23/empty-links/

    2. If the user agent does not apply publisher CSS (for whatever reason, including user preference), the user will see a random number displayed ("15") without any context whatsoever. Note that another IE8 feature (the "No Style" option in the "Style" menu) gives IE users an easy way to turn off publisher styles entirely:

    http://blogs.msdn.com/ie/archive/2008/12/16/the-css-corner-alternate-style-sheets.aspx

    3. Hiding machine data in attributes meant to be human readable ("title") and that appear on hover creates accessibility problems for screen reader users and sighted users alike:

    http://www.webstandards.org/2007/04/27/haccessibility/

    http://www.rnib.org.uk/wacblog/articles/too-much-accessibility/too-much-accessibility-title-attributes/

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/07/why_the_bbc_removed_microforma.html

    So what can we do at least partially repair these problems?

    1. Example markup including anchor links should include link text that describes the link destination. For example:

    <a rel="entry-content" href="LivePreviewPage.htm" style="display:none;">Live Preview Page</a>

    <a rel="bookmark" href="LivePreviewPage.htm" style="display:none;">Live Preview Page</a>

    It would be preferable if we could combine these two links into one:

    <a rel="entry-content bookmark" href="LivePreviewPage.htm" style="display:none;">Live Preview Page</a>

    Does IE8’s web slice parser support that?

    2. Explain what the TTL number is:

    <span style="display: none;">Web slice updated every <span class="ttl">15</span> seconds: </span><a rel="bookmark" href="LivePreviewPage.htm" style="display:none;">Live Preview Page</a>  

    3. Is tricky, as the microformats community is still developing a solution for hiding machine-friendly equivalents to human-friendly data:

    http://microformats.org/wiki/machine-data

    <span class="endtime" title="25 Jul 2008 17:30:00 PST"></span> isn’t yet a blessed alternative, but it would certainly be less damaging than the abuse of "abbr" and "title". It’s already used elsewhere on the web to embed OpenURLs:

    http://ocoins.info/

    Does IE8’s Web Slice parser understand "span" plus "title" the same as "abbr" plus "title"?

  36. Jan says:

    I don’t even know how to subscribe to the live.com weather webslice. WHen I go to IEaddons.com and click the add live weather webslice it just opens a window with a live search for weather. NO WEBSLICE ICON APPEARS, just RSS. VERY FRUSTRATING!

  37. Amy P [MSFT] says:

    @Jan: it’s possible Live temporarily disabled the Web Slice at the time you tried it.  Anyway, you can get to the same Web Slice by doing a search on Live.com for ‘x weather’ where x is your location.  Try hovering over the weather icons or clicking on the Web Slice/feed discovery button in the frame. good luck.

  38. Jan says:

    I see, this is only available when location is set to United States (live.com). Furthermore, some places seem to be missing. For example Utrecht, Netherlands is missing (but is available on weather.msn.com). Amsterdam, Netherlands works fine however.

    I can add other weather locations to the favorites bar, but the title gets grayed out and the webslice fails to show (We are unable to display this view).

    This needs some serious fixing!

    Also the title can be more compact (just the location instead of Weather in <location>). The favorites bar gets crowded very easily.

    And if you need a features suggestion for the next IE: Name favorites, feeds and webslices effectively by default. I always have to rename favorites before I add them because the title is absurd long with all kind of crap. The default name should be short and descriptive.

  39. the.adams.amy says:

    @Jan: Thanks for the feedback!  Yeah, Live doesn’t support all languages yet.   As for the greying out issue, that sounds like a good bug.  What were your searching for when that happened?  As for the compact titles, IE doesn’t create the titles, the publisher’s do.   I recommend that you take advantage of the ‘Custom Title Widths’ feature (right click fav bar and choose ‘Cusomize Title Widths’ -> Short titles) as well as create folders on the favorites bar.  I’m using these and it’s saved me a TON of room.  Hopefully that works for you too.  Thanks again!

    Amy P [MSFT]

  40. RitikaV says:

    @LINK element comments

    We looked into using the LINK element for this purpose but found that according to the W3C Recommendation –  “Unlike A, it may only appear in the HEAD section of a document”

    http://www.w3.org/TR/html401/struct/links.html#h-12.3

    Since Web Slices are defined within a section on the webpage and you can have multiple Web Slices on a page, LINK was not an appropriate choice. Thanks for the suggestion, though!

    @ Target =_blank opening links in new tab (in current window) comments

    Web Slices take advantage of tabbed browsing and open target=_blank within the same window for easy management. The new tab is almost like a “new” window from the perspective of the Web Slice preview window. If you’re not a tab user, you can disable Tabbed Browsing via Internet Options or Group Policy and Web Slices will respect that choice opening target=_blank links in a new window.

    @Jason  

    Web Slices are based on feeds that update in the background according to the schedule chosen by the user. We want to ensure that whenever the user clicked on the Web Slice, they saw the “latest” content (at the last update per the sync interval) even if the user went offline. It would be additional overhead to turn off feed sync after every update and then turn it back on after the user viewed the updated contents.

    The slice author can also adjust the TTL on the response, thereby reducing the number of requests dynamically. If the user wishes to override the “Suggested” sync interval by the server they can do so, and then manually refresh the Web Slice at any time to see the latest content. They can also set all updates to be manual and then run “Refresh all” to update all their Web Slices.

    This blog (http://blogs.msdn.com/rssteam/archive/2006/04/08/571509.aspx) provides more details on the numerous things that the RSS Platform does to minimize its impact on the client as well as server and most of them apply to Web Slices as well.

    RitikaV [MSFT]

  41. Jan says:

    I add the webslice from the URL below and it grays out imediately.

    Error: We are unable to display this view. Use the open button to get full details on this error.

    When I use the open button (->) the webslice shows fine in a normal window. The digg webslice works fine for me (all on the IE RC).

    http://search.live.com/results.aspx?q=Amsterdam%2C+Netherlands+weather&go=&form=QBRE

    Folders might be a good idea indeed. I don’t think I like the short titles or icons.

    You should really think about adding a good algorithm for default favorite title names for the next version.

    For example:

    GMail: EMail from Google ; would be added as just GMail.

    Yahoo! Mail: The best web-based email! ; would be added as just Yahoo! Mail.

    Slashdot – News for nerds, stuff that matters ; would be added as just Slashdot.

    BBC World Service – World Service ; would be added as just BBC World Service.

    See the similarity? The optional redundant stuff is behind a marker (either – or : ). Why not implement a simple algorithm to clip text after the marker. This would improve the default favorites titles for 99% of websites / users. If a user prefers a different title, they can still change it. But it saves a lot of effort for all the people who just want a simple correct default title name for their favorites. Just a little annoyance that would save a lot of trouble.

  42. Christian says:

    @RitkaV: I did not know that several web slices should be possible even for dynamic slices. In that case, I understand the usage of A instead of LINK  better.

    Could you look into what Benjamin Hawkes-Lewis suggestion of merging both links? This seems like quite an improvement to me.

    Also, it would be nice if the endtime example would also contain state the end time in a more direct way for fallback reasons, e.g.

    <span class="endtime" title="25 Jul 2008 17:30:00 PST">Expiration Time: July 25 2008, 17:30 PST.</span>

    Yes, this would be a bit repetitive but it would make things more readable without styling.

    I see that you have started to adjust the examples in this post – thank you for that. Please also adjust documentation on MSDN (e.g. http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc196992(VS.85).aspx#_altupdate). In addition to that, MSDN could also contain suggestions on what to avoid when using web slices  (for example to not use empty a tags, what the a tags should contain and what the endtime-span should contain). This information does not need to be terribly long, but many people will doublessly cut and paste from any example that works for them and then leave it at that. And as soon as bad practice has spread, it will be very hard to stop again.

    Maybe you could also have other Microsoft blogs post about whatever the finalized web slices suggestions are, if they have posted about web slices before. This could also be helpful for getting a critical mass of good usage out into the wild.

    Thanks for taking these comments seriously.

  43. כבר כתבתי בעבר על IE8, שאני אוהב אותו, ומחכה שהוא ייצא בגרסה רשמית, אמנם כתבתי , שאני לא מתכוון לעבור

  44. RitikaV says:

    @DOCTYPE comments

    This blog post talks about dynamic Web Slices which use an Alternative Display Source. They respect all DOCTYPEs and styles like the browser.

    For static Web Slices, we use the X-UA-Compatible meta tag which properly sets the rendering mode for them.  However, there is a bug in RC build where the static Web Slice does not support the DOCTYPE from the Web page, and the absence of the X-UA-Compatible meta tag in the Web page caused the Web Slice view to be in quirks mode.

    Thanks for helping demonstrate the importance of this issue to us.  We’ve now fixed this issue and I wanted to give a more detailed explanation to give you context. We’ve made a fix for this where static Web Slices use the X-UA-Compatible meta tag and the documentMode property (which accounts for DOCTYPEs http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc196988(VS.85).aspx) for the rendering mode, and if neither are present, the Web Slice view uses IE8 standards mode.

    @Favicon comments

    Post Release Candidate, we have also done work to fix the issue with favicons in Web Slices

    RitikaV [MSFT]

  45. IEBlog says:

    Today we’re excited to release the final build of Internet Explorer 8 in 25 languages. IE8 makes what

  46. IEBlog says:

    Hello, my name is Amy Placzkiewicz and I’m a Lead Software Design Engineer in Test on Internet Explorer’s

  47. David says:

    I really cant see the use of web slices. Most people connect to I.E or Firefox and google for what they want. Whats the point of web slices? Somebody enlighten me please?

  48. Dan says:

    David, the point of WebSlices is that many people don’t want to google, over-and-over-and-over for information they’d rather have at their fingertips (e.g. stock quotes, auctions i’m bidding on, local weather, etc).

  49. Jack M says:

    For the life of me, I cannot get the title to "gleam" when the content unless the title itself changes.

    Can anyone provide a complete, simple example of one that actually works.