Monday, October 27th, 2008

Not Possible to Use IE’s Web Slice Icon In Other Browsers

Category: IE, Microsoft

Update: Jane Kim from Microsoft posted a message about this issue:

Hey folks, we created the guidelines with this scenario in mind – we definitely want to support applications using the icon to indicate Web Slice content.

We will update the documentation to make this clearer. Thanks!
– Jane Kim [MSFT]

Thanks for clarifying things Jane!

Original post:
Web Slices are a cool new feature coming in Internet Explorer 8, where you can subscribe to portions of a web page and see updates to them in the Favorites toolbar. There is even an open specification for Web Slices (partially based on hAtom) so that others can implement it. Daniel Glazman has been working on a Firefox extension to implement the spec.

Just as RSS has a standard icon where a site can indicate it can be subscribed to:

Web Slices have a similar icon to indicate you can subscribe to a portion of a page when the standard is being used:

Unfortunately, the terms of service for this icon got switched around and Daniel noticed that it looks like other browsers therefore can’t use it. From the terms of service for the icon:

DO NOT use the icon:

  • As a logo or favicon for a Web site or online content, whether Web Slice enabled or not. The icon represents the Web Slice technology, and not the Web site or content itself
  • As an application icon
  • As an icon or logo for any product or service, or as a feature or design element of another icon, logo, trademark or service mark
  • In any manner that expresses or implies an affiliation with, sponsorship, or endorsement by Microsoft or any third party

I’m sure this was unintentional, as often happens with licenses, since Microsoft has provided a simple standard in good faith. Microsoft should just open source the icon, just like the RSS icon was, so that there can be a standard UI mechanism to indicate to users that a Web Slice is available. As an alternative, if they want to retain control to ensure the icon is used properly, they should update the terms of service so that other browsers to use the icon to indicate a portion of the page can be subscribed to.

Posted by Brad Neuberg at 9:00 am
13 Comments

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2.8 rating from 48 votes

13 Comments »

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Am I missing something obvious? I really don’t see what the complaint is.

There is nothing to stop you using the icon to indicate Web Slice content on a page or using it as a button on your software.

You can’t use it to represent your website, application or product. You can’t use it to say your product is Microsoft approved.

Sounds fair to me.

Comment by fineartdavid — October 27, 2008

The RSS feed icon is used as a FAVICON when viewing a RSS file via your browser, i’m guessing this would not be possible when viewing a webslice page?

Comment by Phunky — October 27, 2008

There is a very simple solution to this problem: Simply don’t support Microsoft’s pseudo open webslice junk. They should start with supporting opacity, canvas etc. in IE8 before inventing new features on their own.

Comment by AndiSkater — October 27, 2008

As fineartdavid says, it looks like it’s simply stopping it being used for anything that isn’t WebSlice. If another browser implemented it or had a plugin, it ought to be okay to use the icon there. It doesn’t look like Daniel Glazman actually got told not to use the icon.

Comment by NickH — October 27, 2008

@NickH and fineartdavid: IAMNAL, so if the license doesn’t forbid other browsers from using the icon in their software to indicate when a portion of a page is using the WebSlice standard then things should be fine. However, I respect Daniel Glazman, and assume that he is interpreting their license correctly. As someone who is trying to implement the spec in another browser, if he is misinterpreting it Microsoft should either contact him to tell him it ok or update the license to make it clearer.

@AndiSkater: The WebSlice idea and standard are good ones. Microsoft has come up with all sorts of good web ideas that are worth supporting (such as Ajax itself). We shouldn’t just throw it out.

Brad

Comment by Brad Neuberg — October 27, 2008

It’s a pretty ugly icon anyway, IMO.

Comment by tlrobinson — October 27, 2008

The other browsers should agree on using another icon, similar to the MS one but different. It’s not different from IE users identifying the Internet with the blue e on the desktop, Firefox users identifying it with a red fox icon, etc. People tend to use only one browser so a different icon wouldn’t do much harm. Websites can put the two icons together to invite users to subscribe to webslices.

Comment by pmontrasio — October 27, 2008

Hey folks, we created the guidelines with this scenario in mind – we definitely want to support applications using the icon to indicate Web Slice content.

We will update the documentation to make this clearer. Thanks!
– Jane Kim [MSFT]

Comment by JaneKim — October 27, 2008

Is the RSS icon using a viral license like e.g. GPL?
If so I assume the WebSlice Icon could be argued a derivation due to the obvious similarities ;)

Comment by ThomasHansen — October 27, 2008

Yea I don’t like wasting time reading invalid articles, editors should visit the links they’re posting before regurgitating it on their on syndicate

Comment by gimbles — October 28, 2008

@JaneKim: Thanks for the clarification! I updated the blog post with your comment.

Best,
Brad

Comment by Brad Neuberg — October 28, 2008

So, to backtrack a little: What’s so special about it anyway? It’s just a fancy name for screen scraping… something people have been doing for ages.

Comment by whyisjasontaken — October 28, 2008

Gmbles wrote- Yea I don’t like wasting time reading invalid articles, editors should visit the links they’re posting before regurgitating it on their on syndicate.

I cant agree more, within my herbal business I can waste time messing about.

Comment by Remedies — November 19, 2008

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