Last time I wrote about how I switched from Delicious to Google Reader's shared links feature only to find out that week that Google was removing the Google Reader shared links feature in favor of Google Plus social features (I'll save my Google Plus rant for another day).
Forced to find something new again, I'm now very pleased with Tumblr. Google Reader has Tumblr in its preset list of Send To sites which makes it relatively easy to add articles. And Tumblr's UX for adding things lets me easily pick a photo or video to display from the article - something which I had put together with a less convenient UX on my bespoke blogging system. For adding things outside of Google Reader I made a Tumblr accelerator to hookup to the Tumblr Add UX.
Of course they have an RSS feed which I hooked up to my blog. The only issue I had there is that when you add a link (and not a video or photo) to Tumblr, the RSS feed entry title for that link is repeated in the entry description as a link followed by a colon and then the actual description entered into Tumblr. I want my title separate so I can apply my own markup so I did a bit of parsing of the description to remove the repeated title from the description.
For a new project I'm working on involving IE's installed Accelerators and OpenSearch search providers via the Windows 7 Accelerator Platform, I've created a C#/COM interop class for those APIs.
Download the osinterop.cs interop file here.
Before we shipped IE8 there were no Accelerators, so we had some fun making our own for our favorite web services. I've got a small set of tips for creating Accelerators for other people's web services. I was planning on writing this up as an IE blog post, but Jon wrote a post covering a similar area so rather than write a full and coherent blog post I'll just list a few points:
There's no easy way to use local applications on a PC as the result of an accelerator or a search provider in IE8 but there is a hack-y/obvious way, that I'll describe here. Both accelerators and search providers in IE8 fill in URL templates and navigate to the resulting URL when an accelerator or search provider is executed by the user. These URLs are limited in scheme to http and https but those pages may do anything any other webpage may do. If your local application has an ActiveX control you could use that, or (as I will provide examples for) if the local application has registered for an application protocol you can redirect to that URL. In any case, unfortunately this means that you must put a webpage on the Internet in order to get an accelerator or search provider to use a local application.
For examples of the app protocol case, I've created a callto accelerator that uses whatever application is registered for the callto scheme on your system, and a Windows Search search provider that opens Explorer's search with your search query. The callto accelerator navigates to my redirection page with 'callto:' followed by the selected text in the fragment and the redirection page redirects to that callto URL. In the Windows Search search provider case the same thing happens except the fragment contains 'search-ms:query=' followed by the selected text, which starts Windows Search on your system with the selected text as the query. I've looked into app protocols previously.
I've made a QR Encode accelerator around Google Chart's QR code generator. QR codes are 2D bar-codes that can store (among other things) URLs and have good support on mobile phones. The accelerator I've written lets you generate a QR code for a selected link and view it in the preview window. In combination with the ZXing bar-code scanner app for my Android cellphone, its easy for me to right click on a link in IE8 on my desktop PC, hover over the QR Encode accelerator to have the link's associated QR code displayed, and then with my phone read that QR code to open my phone's browser to the URL contained inside. Its much easier to browse around in the comfort of my desktop and only send particular URLs to my cellphone as necessary.
A while ago I promised to say how an xsltproc Meddler script would be useful and the general answer is its useful for hooking up a client application that wants data from the web in a particular XML format and the data is available on the web but in another XML format. The specific case for this post is a Flickr Search service that includes IE8 Visual Search Suggestions. IE8 wants the Visual Search Suggestions XML format and Flickr gives out search data in their Flickr web API XML format.
So I wrote an XSLT to convert from Flickr Search XML to Visual Suggestions XML and used my xsltproc Meddler script to actually apply this xslt.
After getting this all working I've placed the result in two places: (1) I've updated the xsltproc Meddler script to include this XSLT and an XML file to install it as a search provider - although you'll need to edit the XML to include your own Flickr API key. (2) I've created a service for this so you can just install the Flickr search provider if you're interested in having the functionality and don't care about the implementation. Additionally, to the search provider I've added accelerator preview support to show the Flickr slideshow which I think looks snazzy.
Doing a quick search for this it looks like there's at least one other such implementation, but mine has the distinction of being done through XSLT which I provide, updated XML namespaces to work with the released version of IE8, and I made it so you know its good.
I've made an extension for Internet Explorer 8, FormToAccelerator which turns HTML forms on a web page into either an accelerator or a search provider. In the design of the accelerators format we intentionally had HTML forms in mind so that it would be easy to create accelerators for existing web services. Consequently, creating an accelerator from an HTML form is a natural concept and an extension I've been meaning to finish for many months now.
This is similar in concept to the Opera feature that lets you add a form as a search provider. The user experience is very rough and requires some knowledge of accelerator variables. If I can come up with a better interaction model I may update this in the future, but at the moment all the designs I can come up with require way too much effort. Install IE8 RC1 and then try out FormToAccelerator.