Web Accessories are browser enhancements that any developer can create using browser extensions. Users can then add these Web Accessories to their copy of Windows Internet Explorer. By creating Web Accessories, developers have a very powerful way to enable new features and functionality.
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Many developers probably still think that the only way to enhance the functionality of a browser is to either host the WebBrowser control and create their own user interface or write their own browser. Actually, that's not the case.
Web Accessories can range from a basic HTML page that contains some useful links to an application that implements a number of Component Object Model (COM) interfaces. Regardless of the type of Web Accessory you develop, you can enhance the features of Internet Explorer without having to replace the user interface or features that users are accustomed to.
Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.0 introduced Web Accessories (then known as PowerToys) that made use of script contained in an HTML file. Microsoft Internet Explorer 5 and later versions also allow you to create more powerful enhancements by implementing COM interfaces, such as IOleCommandTarget and IObjectWithSite.
In addition to providing users with an enhancement, you can also provide access to your Web Accessory directly from the Internet Explorer user interface by using browser extensions. For more information, see About Browser Extensions.
Many of the enhancements introduced in Internet Explorer 4.0 provide good examples of what you can do with your Web Accessory. For example, using just a little script, your Web Accessory could:
- Zoom in and out of any image on a Web page.
- Highlight selected text.
- Open a frame in a new window.
- List the links on a page.
- Contain useful links (such as links to important resources on a company's intranet).
- Display information about the current Web page or frameset.
Using COM, you could design intricate Microsoft Win32 controls that interact with the page or provide other enhancements to the browsing experience.