IE 8 Activities and WebSlices for Firefox

Two of the main new features Internet Explorer 8 Beta 1 introduced last week, Activities and WebSlices, are now available for Firefox users.

Activities, is a simple way to add web services you can direct text selections to for further detail. For example, you can select a word of a web page, select a define activity and get the definition from a provider you have added like Dictionary.com or Answers.com. You can do the same with a street address.

Michael Kaply, author of Operator, a more capable Firefox extension that uses microformats to detect and exchange data between sites, has released a new version of Microsoft Activities for Firefox that allows to add Activities providers to Firefox and use them to preview and direct text selections to them.

Get Microsoft Activities from Michael Kaply’s site. You will need to add a few Activities providers from Microsoft.WebSlices are small pieces of the most relevant content of a web page that a user can subscribe to to get the latest facts without having to visit the full page.

Disruptive Innovations’ Daniel Glazman has released WebChunks, a very early implementation of WebSlices, as a Firefox extension that detects webslices in a web page and subscribe to them via a toolbar.

You will first need to get a few providers from Microsoft. Then you can visit one of the sites to subscribe to a web page. You will notice a purple icon when you hover a webslice. Right click and select Subscribe to a webckunk to add it to the webchunk toolbar.

There are two kinds of webslices: one is embedded in the web page as regular content and a second one is just the first item of a web feed. Currently WebChunks only support the first one but coming versions will support both of them.

Another limitation is the need of a separate toolbar and that webslices are updated every time you click on it instead of all of them getting a periodic refresh. In some cases like auctions, it is better that way though, so maybe an option to set the kind of refresh would be the right way to go.

WebChunks is compatible with Firefox 3 Alpha 1 and later versions up to the current nightlies.  You can get it from Daniel Glazman’s site.

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