When the first Firefox 2 beta was released, I looked into Microsummaries, a feature that enables bookmarks to automatically update their titles with information. I concluded they were useful, but not for anything I was doing. The main application would be my Flash site, but it already had an RSS feed for updates, and a microsummary could only really include the most recent item.
Now the first IE8 beta supports Webslices. They’re similar in concept, but can include formatted data (not just plain text) and use microformat-like markup on the web page instead of a <link> element in the head.
I figured with two browsers supporting the concept, I’d give it a shot. I adapted the script I use to generate the RSS feed so that it will also take everything on the most recent day and generate a text file, which is used for the Microsummary title. For the Webslice, to start with I just marked up the “Latest Updates” section of the home page. Since I haven’t installed IE8b1 at home, I’m using Daniel Glazman’s experimental Webchunks extension for Firefox to try it out. Unfortunately the extension doesn’t seem to resolve relative links in its current state.
The real question, of course, is whether either technology offers anything better than what feeds can do now.
I think I’ll end up going the external-feed route for the Webslice as well, since it’ll use a lot less bandwidth than having a bunch of IE installations pulling the entire home page once a day. Plus since I’m using SSI on that page, it doesn’t take advantage of conditional requests and caching, and a static file will. But that’ll have to wait. Lost is on in 2 minutes, and after getting up earlier than usual this morning, I’ll probably be going to bed right after the show.
Update: I checked in IE8, and the webslice does work as expected. A few minor differences: Webchunks pulls in external styles, like the background and colors, while IE8b1 only uses styles in the chunk itself. Interesting bit: I’m marking up list items as entries, and IE8 is actually displaying them as a bulleted list, while Webchunks is simply showing the content.
So it at least works. Maybe tonight or Sunday I’ll see if I can refine it a bit.