"Active Channels" is one of the coolest
new features in Internet Explorer 4.0. Channels are Microsoft's form
of webcasting or "push" technology, which was started with
PointCast. However, IE's channels let you do much more and are built
on the Channel Definition Format (CDF) and Dynamic HTML.
When you subscribe to one of the many channels out
there, you specify how and when it's updated. If you want to learn
more, here's a page on Microsoft.com that tells you more.
Also, for more information on the CDF spec, be
sure to check out this address:
Channels are part of the Active Desktop, which in
turn is a component of the Windows Desktop Update, also new to
IE4.0. When you first started up Windows with IE4 installed, you
probably noticed the "channel" bar on your Desktop. From
here (or the Channels folder in Favorites, or the Channels pane in
Explorer), you can access the channels or groups of channels. For
instance, when you choose "lifestyle & travel," IE is
launched in a full screen view, giving you a selection of various
If you go to a channel you haven't subscribed to
yet, you'll have the opportunity to "Add Active Channel"
or "Add to Active Desktop." When you choose to Add to
Active Desktop, you'll be placing the channel directly on your
Desktop all the time.
Other than viewing, there's lots of other stuff
you can do to extend your power over the channels :). For instance,
either in the Channels pane in Explorer (accessed by clicking the
Channels icon in the IE coolbar), right click any channel you see.
From here, you can change the channel's properties, subscribe to it,
or open it.
You have a wide range of options when you
subscribe to a channel; for instance, you can have IE tell you when
updates occur, or you can have IE notify you of updates (even by
email and with a red gleam on the icon). You also have complete
control over when updates occur. To try out all this for yourself,
just right click a channel, and choose Subscribe. From there, you
can click the Customize button for even more fun :).
What more could you want? More channels, of
course! There are literally hundreds of channels available, and the
best place to look for them is at the Microsoft Channel Guide, whose
icon is at the top of the Channel bar; or, just go to this URL:
(BTW, be sure to add the ActiveIE channel when you're there!)
When you're surfing the net, there's a good chance
you'll run into other sites with Active Channels; those in the
Channel guide will have an "Add to Active Channels"
graphic on their pages to make it easier for you to subscribe.
Making your own Channels
Now that you have a general understanding of
channels, you want to make your own, right? Don't worry, it's easy
to get started!
Check out Microsoft's Site Builder Network and
Workshop site to get started ... there's even a wizard to help you
And here are some more detailed instructions:
If you think you're up to it, you can even put
your channel in the Microsoft Channel Guide! To be eligible for
this, you must be a Site Builder Network member, use CDF, include
Dynamic HTML, add the "Add to Active Channels" logo, and
more. For more on how to apply, see this URL:
Well, that's it for this rather large tip. If
you've got more questions, be sure to explore Microsoft's IE4 site
(http://www.microsoft.com/ie/ie40) as well as the Site Builder
Network site (http://www.microsoft.com/sitebuilder/)
and email me Byron here at
ActiveIE! Have fun, and enjoy IE4!