Internet Explorer 9 and Pinned Sites

Internet Explorer 9 and Pinned Sites

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Hello. I’m Scott Seiber.

I’d like to introduce myself. I’m a member of the Windows Planning and PC Ecosystem team. I am focused on making sure Windows developers have the information and guidance they need to build great applications and experiences on Windows.

Today I want to talk about Internet Explorer 9 and pinned sites, a feature with which you can integrate your websites with the Windows 7 desktop.

Not so long ago the word “application” usually referred to software that you run on a desktop computer. Today the word application or “apps” has been transformed to not only refer to applications that you run on your PC, but also to web sites that run in your browser to help you get tasks done, or to apps you run on your phone to help you find answers to questions or to play a game.

If you haven’t tried using the new Internet Explorer 9 Beta, please take the time to download it at http://www.beautyoftheweb.com.

Unlike any other browser today it really provides the potential to unlock rich experiences on the web. On the site you can find great examples of how web sites are using the new features in IE9 to make web applications really light up on Windows.

Windows 7 and Internet Explorer 9 makes the user’s apps experience the best it can be whether the application was written in C/C++, .Net, Silverlight, or HTML/JavaScript. With Internet Explorer 9 you can now customize your web apps to seamlessly integrate with the Windows desktop. With Internet Explorer 9 and pinned sites enabled for a website, users can pin that site to the Windows 7 taskbar or add the site to the desktop or Start menu. Pinned sites enable easy access to favorite websites and add shortcut functionality similar to that found in Microsoft Windows applications. In addition, pinned sites require little development cost and offer robust features. Some meta elements and JavaScript is all that you need to gain functionality; you need not modify any existing content or attributes for a current website.

Pinning a site is easy; click the icon to the left of the web address, the tab for the website, or the website's icon on the New Tab page and drag it to the taskbar. Now the website has its own taskbar icon and it only takes one click to get to the site. By using meta elements you can customize the way the pinned site renders after it is launched and how the application behaves on the taskbar. There are numerous examples on the BeautyOfTheWeb site like the one below with USA today. Notice how this pinned site provides Task links that will jump the user directly to specific parts of their website.

jumplist

Also notice how the experience is customized after the pinned site is launched. The custom USA Today icon to the left of the back button gives your app a unique identity and the buttons are drawn using the primary colors of the app icon. The full list of things you can specify to customize your app can be found in the MSDN Library Reference for Pinned Sites with Internet Explorer 9 listed below.

clip_image005

For an online developer session and walkthrough showing how to use the new Internet Explorer 9 Pinned Sites feature please visit the Windows Summit 2010 site listed below and review the Software Track for lots of great guidance on this feature and many others. Note: if you are a first time visitor of the Windows Summit website you may be asked to answer a few simple registration questions. It’s easy to do and the developer content is well worth it.

Also be sure to check out the Microsoft PDC10 site which will include a live streamed session on this topic when the event is held on Oct. 28 and 29. You can find the link below.

I hope you find this information useful. In the coming weeks and months I will be posting on this blog with my team partners and together I hope we can pick some topics that are interesting and meaningful to you and that also help inspire you to write great application experiences on Windows.

References:

Download Internet Explorer 9
http://www.beautyoftheweb.com

Windows Summit 2010
http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windows-summit/default.aspx

MSDN Library Reference for Pinned Sites with Internet Explorer 9
http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/gg131029(VS.85).aspx

Microsoft PDC10
http://www.microsoftpdc.com/

Learn about the Windows 7 Taskbar
http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/ee624070.aspx

9 Comments
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  • @Leon

    Thanks Leon! That was a great piece of info that I'm not sure I've seen anywhere yet. I'm really looking forward to everything the RC will bring including (hopefully) RSS pinning. It's good to see that pinning will work from that icon as I had no idea. Before your post I'd move the dock to the bottom, pin, then return the dock to the top. Excellent tip!

  • @Daistaar:

    Even if taskbar is docked on the site, you still should be able to drag the icon in the address bar to the taskbar to perform pinning. We are looking at other ways to make this easier for users in RC.

    Thanks

    Leon Braginski

  • Don't know if this has been mentioned before Scott, but I've found  that tab pinning only works if the taskbar is docked on the bottom of the screen. If the taskbar is docked on the side or top, you get the "Snap" effect instead. Just wanted to mention that as I think you should be able to supercede the snap sweetspot and reach the taskbar even if it isn't on the bottom. Loving everything so far.

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  • Bill_G
    12 Posts

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  • Spindel
    5 Posts

    I have the same question like JohnCz.

    Why are you providning a full browser experience when it should only focus on the app itself? I don't need a back button, I don't need the adress box - that's what I'm using IE9 for.

  • ericesque, thanks for the comment.

    Yes, the Start Menu is also a popular place for users who like to customize the way they launch their applications and as you point out IE9 supports this.  I didn't call it out in the post but it's covered in the Windows Summit 2010 and MSDN material.  Also, don't forget to watch the PDC10 content when it becomes available later this week.

  • JohnCz
    204 Posts

    Looking forward to PDC and seeing a few implementations of Pinned Site notifications.  Regarding Pinned Sites, I am curious about a few things...

    1. Why is the IE address box necessary if this mode mimics a standalone app?

    2. Is there anything that can be done to make jumplist more touch friendly?

    3. Is it possible for the jumplist to link to a webslice and offer a webslice view when the user clicks on it?.

  • ericesque
    34 Posts

    Great post, Scott!  I would like to make a suggestion for a follow up post:  There's a lot of tech coverage about pinning sites to the taskbar, but I haven't seen anyone feature adding and pinning sites to the Start Menu.  This feature is fantastic for folks who like to launch programs using keyboard shortcuts and also shows off jump lists in the Start Menu nicely!  Please don't let this great feature slip through the cracks!