IE 8 Web Slices Explained

IE 8 has a cool new feature that some websites can and should use, it is called a web slice. In essence a web slice is a small section of your page that you update either manually with HTML or dynamically with a script and allow a reader to subscribe to that snippet. 

Our web slice page.
Our web slice page.

By subscribing to this special snippet, readers can see any new entries you add to your web slice section in their browser instantly when you add to or update them.

Here is an example on one of my own pages. On the right of the content you will see a gray box that says “MWS New QL Template Features”. If you mouse over this box and have IE 8, a green icon will show to the top left of the content. Additionally, take a quick look in the browser bar and you will see a new green web slice icon has also been illuminated. If you mouse over the slice box in the content you can choose to subscribe to this snippet. IE will place a link to this snippet over just above the tabs on your browser pages.

Once you have subscribed, anytime I change this section on my site, add a new link, a new photo, etc. your browser link will show the new updated content. You can view the content on demand. If you ever want to remove this code snippet. Just right click the item above the tabs and select delete.

I have to say I spent a few hours learning how to set up and style the snippet initially to make it look good. Here is a great tutorial on how to make the code that I used at CODE Magazine. The code is pretty straight forward. What took time was to figure out how to style the snippet that showed in IE.

I found the first div tag controls the font color, size, and background. If you do not style this first div tag IE will pick up your own website body tag background and coloring which in some cases can be a problem. Testing and tweaking to style it properly may take a bit of time using trial and error, but once you get it, you will be able to quickly add the same syntax to other pages or web slices on your website.

How would a website use web slices?

Well, the possibilities are endless! Some sites may choose to show current coupon codes, showcase new features, highlight new products, introduce specials or other timely information. You don’t need to programmatically insert information. Once your “shell” is styled and set up to your liking you can embed this on any page and just change the content using regular HTML.

Take a look at my web slice page, subscribe to it, and see what you think.