Posted by Dan Rigsby on 12th April 2008
With the introduction of Internet Explorer 8, Facebook has provided support for both WebSlices and Activities: http://www.microsoft.com/windows/ie/ie8/welcome/en/default.html. In the article I am going to express my thoughts about these additions to IE 8 and their implementation for Facebook.
WebSlices allow developers to mark parts of webpages as “WebSlices” and enable users to monitor information they rely on as they move about the web. This information can be displayed in the Favorites bar so that users can stay abreast to the information.
In Facebook, your friend’s status updates are a WebSlices. To enable this you can go about this in 2 ways:
- When IE8 detects a webslice on the page, the RSS feed button is replaced with the webslice button (as shown in item 1 of the following image). If you select this window then the subscription confirmation box will be displayed.
- If you hover over the webslice data area, a webslice button will appear (as shown in item 2 of the following image). Selecting this will also open the subscription confirmation box.
Once you have subscribed to the webslice, a new item in the Favorites bar will appear called “Facebook Status Updates”. If you drop down this button, the 3 most recent status changes will be displayed. You could then select to “Open” this list in an RSS like window.
If there are new status updates, the text of the “Facebook Status Updates” button will become bold. If your friend’s use Twitter and sync it with Facebook, then prepare to have this text almost always be bold.
Overall, webslices could have some very cool uses. Imagine being able to monitor an auction on eBay or prices of items you wish to buy. This feature would be more useful in Facebook, if you had a way to filter to only show status updates from select friends. Most users have between 50-100 friends and status updates could be less useful.
Activities give users ready access to the online services they care about most from any page they visit, and developers gain an easy way to extend the reach of their online services. These activities become available when you select text on a page. The activity icon will appear above the selected text. Selecting it will display the activities list.
Facebook provides two activities:
- Find with Facebook: This option will open up a Facebook search using the selected text. This could be useful if you want to search for a person or group on Facebook.
- Share on Facebook: This lets you send a link to the selected page as a message to friends or a post on your profile.
Overall, activities really don’t provide us with anything new. They are really just shortcuts between coping something to the clipboard and navigating to some website or application. I don’t see myself using these much (if at all), unless some more advanced use for them is found.