The web world is currently alight with discussion around the new Microsoft Internet Explorer 8 software slated to be released later this year. The bulk of this conversation has been about whether IE8 will display pages with its much improved (it passes the Acid2 test) standards-complianct rendering engine. It seemed that we would have had to do some fiddling to get this to work but now it appear we don’t have to. That’s a good move, well done Microsoft.
I’ve just been and had a look at the website for the IE8 developer beta, and noticed something pretty interesting. they’re introduing a new feature called WebSlices which are like feeds for certain parts of web pages. Developers who add the required code to their pages will allow visitors to subscribe to updates of those sections of the page, which many of the same facilities afforded to RSS publishers.
My initial thought was that they’d have used some horrible proprietary syntax to make this happen, completely ignoring the established ways of doing this. But I was wrong. Almost.
Looking at the whitepaper for WebSlices it appears the IE8 team have taken large slices (excuse the pun) of the hAtom format to build their new feature. The main change being using a “hslice” rather than “hatom” class on the parent element of the feed. I’m not sure why they’ve done this, hAtom seems to do everything they need. Maybe it’s just Microsoft wanting to keep some level of control, maybe there’s something more to the story.
At any rate, this is is going to make it easier for developers to provide subscribable content on their web pages. Hopefully it will bring microformats – and web standards in general – to the attention of people traditionally deep inside the Microsoft world.