Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Useful IE7 hacks

Internet Explorer mostly brought tears to my eyes not too long ago. IE6 was slow, and before XP SP2, really vulnerable. They worked hard to lock it down but the lack of tabs and any real utility made me look at Firefox and boy, did I love it.

However, Microsoft launched IE7 a few weeks back. It is a significant re-write and update of features for Internet Exploer on both XP and Vista. It is important, simply because even now, more than 85% of the market uses IE. A few quick notes:

- Tabbed browsing finally comes to the IE world! On Vista, you can drag and drop and re-order tabs. El Neato.

- A big plus for me is the ease of use with respect to RSS. My browser is my default RSS reader now and the ease with which I can import and export OPML lists makes it easy for me to use my favorite feeds across multiple machines. I prefer it over Sage and Live Bookmarks in FF personally, though YMMV.

- A couple of things about it to me are still annoying - the text search is still archaic. Come on, vi had inline text search, what, twenty years back?.

However, IE's add-on API set isn't too bad, and we have Core Services' Inline Search to our rescue. Quick to install, and easy to use. Sweet. A number of add-ons are listed here - http://www.ieaddons.com

- Also, while Wikipedia and the major search engines are all in the search providers that are available easily, I wish IMDB were as easily available.

This is solved by the nifty customize menue under 'Find more search providers' that Microsoft provides on their website, making it easy to add your own search providers. Providers I added include dictionary.com, IMDB and the local county library online database.

This is a feature that copies the Opera/FF world, but the last bit of customization makes it better than its predecessors. (I mean, would anyone really write a custom provider for my library? I'd do it myself, but that's besides the point. What would a newbie user do?)

Firefox has significant momentum behind it, but IE7 may be just about able to stem the bleeding of users away from IE. IE is still playing catch-up with Firefox in terms of end-user features, but at least there's a modicum of competition now.

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