Two recommended Microsoft add-ons for Internet Explorer 5.x+, Web Accessories and Web Developer Accessories, make supporting and maintaining Web sites more convenient. They’re free, they’re a snap to install, and they’ll even ease Web research performed by your firm’s employees outside the IT office.
Microsoft’s Web Accessories adds eight utilities to IE:
- Browse a Links List
- Browse an Images List
- Open Frame In New Window
- Zoom images (enlarge and shrink)
- Highlight text on a Web page
- Web Search
- Quick Search
- Toggle Images
To install the enhancement, download file ie5wa.exe from Microsoft’s Web site. When you double-click the file, it will self-extract and install. To use the new choices, simply restart IE.
Not for IE 5 only
Although Microsoft’s Web site cautions that these add-ons are only for IE 5.x, they install and work on IE 6.
Figure A shows the Web Accessories that appear on the standard shortcut (right-click) menu: Links List, Images List, and Open Frame In New Window.
|The new shortcuts: Links List, Images List, and Open Frame In New Window.|
Clicking Links List opens a new browser window with all the links on that Web page. Not only does this list aid Web design and quality assurance (QA) checking, but it gives any Web user a quick-and-dirty navigation bar. Figure B shows part of the Links List for the Yahoo home page.
|The Links List allows quick link checking and easy navigation.|
The Images List links to all the images on a Web page, counts how often each image appears, and displays its file size, its pixel width and height, and finally, the image itself. By clicking a check box, users can scale large images so that the window doesn’t get too wide. It’s an efficient way to check a Web site’s graphic inventory.
Fixing the Images List display
If the Images List window appears blank, refresh the screen using the command [Ctrl]R. The images should then appear.
Netscape Navigator users will be familiar with the Open Frame In New Window option. Much missed in IE, this item allows you to check the accuracy of framed pages and escape confining frames such as the ones created in About.com’s interface.
The Zoom In and Zoom Out options appear when you right-click over an image. These choices are useful for viewing more of a Web page or examining an image in detail.
Use Highlight to draw attention to specific information, perhaps during a meeting, or for personal review. To use it, select a portion of text and right-click, then click Highlight to add a yellow background. (Note: You won’t see the Highlight menu choice unless the mouse pointer is hovering over plain text—not over a link or an image. A space between images or links will do.)
Resetting a zoomed and highlighted page
Changes to a Web page using Zoom and Highlight are temporary. To reset the page, click the Refresh button (or press [Ctrl]R).
To conduct a Web Search on selected text, right-click and choose Web Search. A secondary window displays Yahoo results for the selected word or phrase.
The Web Accessories add-on installs two other features, Quick Search and Toggle Images. They are selectable through a small Links toolbar. If this toolbar isn’t visible, choose View | Toolbars | Links.
Quick Search saves some steps in Web searches. In the address bar, type a search engine shortcut and then the search text, as follows: “is Windows 2000 annoyances.” In this case, “is” sends the search for Windows 2000 annoyances to InfoSeek.
Choosing Links | Quick Search.exe opens a configuration screen where you can add, delete, or edit items in the search engine list (which, for some reason, doesn’t include Google). Before using Quick Search for the first time, activate it by opening the configuration screen and clicking Save.
Instead of having to drill down the Tools | Options menus, you can use Toggle Images on the Links Toolbar to turn IE’s image display on and off. (It’s buggy on my Windows 2000 IE 6 installation: When clicked, Toggle Images also sends and receives my Outlook mail.)
Web Developer Accessories
Web Developer Accessories adds two tools to the shortcut menu: View Partial Source and Document Tree. To install, download the file webdevaccess.exe from Microsoft’s Web site. Double-click the file, which self-extracts and installs; then, restart IE to use the new choices.
View Partial Source is a great development aid. Instead of scrolling through an entire page of markup tags and code, you can now display only the source code you’re interested in.
To use it, select a portion of a Web page, right-click, and click View Partial Source. Figures C and D illustrate View Partial Source in action. In Figure C, a portion of the About.com Web site has been selected. Figure D shows the resulting partial source.
|To use View Partial Source, begin by selecting a portion of a Web page.|
|Here is the result of choosing View Partial Source in the Web page selected above. You only have to view the code you’re interested in.|
This feature helps answer not only those frequent “how did they do that?” questions but also the nagging “what’s wrong with this page?” QA dilemmas.
Selecting Document Tree opens a secondary window listing the entire Document Object Model (DOM) for that page. Clicking any part of the tree opens the next level.
There are many add-ons for Internet Explorer. Most of them, such as the Alexa toolbar or Toolbar Wallpaper, add some convenience. But these two downloads, Web Accessories and Web Developer Accessories, enhance your IT staff’s Web development and browsing in a big way.