Polishing the Chrome


Internet Explorer Team Blog

Polishing the Chrome

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My name is Mark Harris, and I am the Program Manager driving extensibility in IE7.   With the creation of www.ieaddons.com we have a rich set of 3rd party add-ons, and we are committed to improving this resource over time.  Most users are familiar with toolbars, but many don’t realize the breadth of the add-ons available for Internet Explorer.

Personalize Your Ride

I rented a Harley-Davidson Sportster 1200C this past weekend (hold the mid-life crisis jokes).  There are a huge number of accessories available for the bike:  custom handlebars, special seats, and (of course) louder mufflers.  These accessories let riders personalize their riding experience.  In a similar way, Internet Explorer Add-Ons provide users with a way to personalize their browsing experience.

For example, many of us have difficulty with spelling.  Enter IESpell: the spell-checker for the web.  It’s a free download for non-commercial use, and spell-checks any text typed into a form.  IESpell will also look up word definitions and works with several language dictionaries.  Right-click on any word in a page, and IESpell will get you the definition. 

Another customized feature is navigation with mouse gestures.  There is a well-put-together add-on (with source!) for Internet Explorer that adds mouse gestures to the browser frame.  With this add-on you can go forward, back, and even open tabs depending on how you move the mouse.  Mouse gestures are not for everyone – but for those who like it, the add-on makes for an even more personal browsing experience.

On the Super-Highway

Another group of add-ons are tied directly to specific web services.  Sites like Windows Live and  StumbleUpon offer add-ons for Internet Explorer so you can enjoy their services while browsing the Internet. 

The Windows Live toolbar is tied in with the Live.com web services.  It lets you access weather, stock quotes, maps, and Wikipedia searches at the touch of a button from your browser session.  It even lets you keep a copy of your Favorites on the Internet, for easy access from any computer.  The toolbar ties in cleanly with Windows Live services, as if it were a part of the browser all along.

StumbleUpon is a social networking service for web site recommendations and reviews.  Their toolbar tracks your likes and dislikes and recommends web sites that you might enjoy.  It uses calls to their back-end web service to provide this functionality from any Internet Explorer session.  Using the toolbar, they integrate the components of their web site with Internet Explorer as if they were  native to Internet Explorer.

The add-ons mentioned here are just a few of the hundreds available for IE7.  New add-ons are being submitted to www.ieaddons.com every day.  There is no way one blog post could showcase all of our favorite add-ons that are available for IE7, so you will be hearing more from us on this subject.  Until then, have fun customizing your Internet experience, and share your favorite add-ons below. 

Mark Harris
Lead Program Manager

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