Internet Explorer 8 Beta 2 is currently available. If you haven't downloaded it yet, you can find it here. I have been using it for about two months now and I am really enjoying some of the new features. One of the features that I find particularly interesting is Accelerators.
Here is a brief introduction about what Accelerators are (taken directly from the IE8 site):
Accelerators give you ready access to the online services you use everyday—from any page you visit. Now you can simply select some text and then click on the blue Accelerators icon. For example, you may be interested in the location of a business featured on a webpage. In the past, you would need to copy the address from the webpage, navigate to another the webpage for a mapping service, and paste in the address. With the "Map with Live Maps" Accelerator in Internet Explorer 8, you can get an in-place view of a map displayed directly on the page.
"Accelerators", Internet Explorer 8: Faster and Easier, http://www.microsoft.com/windows/internet-explorer/beta/features/accelerators.aspx
IE8 comes with a handful on pre-installed Accelerators as you can see from the menu above. There are also some more available here. You can also create your own custom accelerators quickly and easily. The documentation for creating accelerators can be found on the Accelerators Development Guide.
I decided to create a simple one to search the MSDN Library for the text that you have selected on a page in the IE8 browser. To create an accelerator, you just need to write an XML file that conforms to the OpenService Accelerator Schema and contains the information about the accelerator. Here is the XML file for my MSDN Search Accelerator:
As you can see, you just provide some basic information about the accelerator and specify the action to take when the user invokes it. In the above example, we are just adding whatever text the user has selected to the URL for the MSDN Search site (line 11).
To install an accelerator, it has to be hosted somewhere on a web server. It cannot be installed from the hard drive. The code below shows a button that allows you to install an accelerator service:
Click the button below to install the MSDN Search Accelerator if you want to give it a try.