I live in St. Louis, which means I am sort of manic about the weather, especially in the Spring. We get massive storm systems moving through this area and I like to be prepared for them. I have long relied on The Weather Channel’s web site, http://www.weather.com to get timely news on what’s going to hit us and when.
I was surprised this morning by a fluke shower, and by “fluke” I mean I wasn’t expecting it. So I jumped only TWC’s web site using the newly installed Internet Explorer 9 RTW and saw the most interesting notice on the screen:
Weather.com now checks to see if you’re running in IE9 pinned mode or not. If you’re not familiar with running a site in pinned mode with IE9, think about how you can pin your favorite applications to your Windows 7 taskbar, making them easy to get to when you need them. Since users, more and more, are using web applications as much, if not more, than locally installed client applications, it only makes sense that web pages should act the same way as local applications. Thus, IE9 pinned mode web sites. How cool is that? I could go into details here on how to enable IE9 pinned mode implementation and discoverability for a site, but my friend and colleague, Jon Box, has already done so on his blog.
So, I dragged the IE9 tab to my task bar and pinned the site and, low and behold, It got the following when I right clicked on the hi-res favicon:
The first set of items under the Tasks section head are part of a static jump list. Amazingly, any web site can implement a list like this by adding a meta tag for each item in the list. They look like this:
<meta name="msapplication-task" content="name=Some Task;action-uri=/SomeTask.html;icon-uri=/favicon.ico"/>
That’s it. Pretty easy, right? Add up to five of these to make your list and users can immediately get directly to important resources on your web site with one right-click and one left-click. This is something you can add to your web site today with minimal effort and testing, since browsers ignore HTML tags they don’t recognize, especially meta tags.
The really cool part of The Weather Channel web site’s pinned mode is the section about the static jump list items, the section called Recent Searches. This is an example of a dynamic jump list because it is generated based on real-time data as opposed to static information in HTML. Here they simply replicated the same functionality I would receive from clicking on the Find Weather search box at the top of their web site:
Thus, without having to write any new functional code, The Weather Channel was able to give me the ability to check my local weather with two clicks and no typing.
This is the real power of these new features of IE9. You get the same presence and access as your favorite Windows applications, but in this case, they’re your favorite web sites. You get access to what you want, when you want it, with few clicks. That’s what I call a win in my book.