Let’s Hear It For Internet Explorer

Once upon a time I loved a free software called MyIE. This add-in wrapper extended and enhanced the Internet Explorer (IE) browser engine. But MyIE2 wasn’t the first of its breed. That accolade goes to StileSoft’s NetCaptor that began as a free standalone plug-in piggy-backing on the IE rendering engine. Then NetCaptor decided to become advertisement-supported while also introduced a rather nasty memory leak that never seemed to be fixed! For the uninitiated memory leaks on Windows are nasty. More so on typical Windows 95/98/2000 computers with 64-128 MB of RAM. And so I very regretfully discarded it.

MyIE came out of China and subsequently morphed into MyIE2 and thence to Maxthon. MyIE also spawned GreenBrowser and AvantBrowser. And so on to Internet Explorer 7 that did what some said was Firefox (with shades of Opera). Even though it took Microsoft some five years to upgrade their venerable free browser. And even then the result remained a half-baked version that stayed many steps behind the competition both on features and functionality. Which (again) gave the browser wrapper market its second wind.

But a key area where the IE7 core scores is in terms of resource use. The IE7 browser drops from 170 MB (with 8 active tab sessions) on minimize to an amazing 1.9 MB! In comparison Firefox and Opera, even when minimized to System Tray, don’t release half as many resources for the same number of active sessions. Nor do the likes of Maxthon (1.5.x or the new 2.x Beta). I installed Maxthon 2.0.1.6526 and even with zero tabs, it used 24 MB maximized and 4.5 MB minimized to the Tray!

Matter of fact from being a Firefox, Opera and Maxthon user I’m now (almost exclusively) an IE7, Firefox and Opera fan. Why these three? Because I get better bang for available RAM with IE7. And for research, Firefox’s Scrapbook extension is incomparable. Opera’s excellent cache management lets me play my favorite Rasterwerks Phosphor FPS (first-person-shooter) [eMusings, March 19, 2006] without Shockwave rendering engine stutters and stammers 🙂

IE7Pro displays Tab HistoryAnd then I chanced across IE7 Pro. This most interesting IE7 feature-extender adds enhanced tab handling including opening new tabs from searches, the address bar, Favorites and History. Also included are customizable Ad and Flash blocking. There’s also URL aliasing where you link a specific, case-sensitive keyword to a URL. You can also define custom searches using a trigger character.

It also tracks opened tabs across browsing sessions. As well as Super Drag ‘n Drop where you click on then drag a hyperlink to open in new tab. This feature defaults to opening the new tab in the background. With IE7Pro, IE7 supports mouse gestures for common tasks. As well as support for multiple proxies. And you can even change the browser user agent. Do remember this is not a web developer recommended stunt as many sites serve web content pages based on browser type. That when misused is the most common cause for web page rendering problems. There’s also Firefox SessionSaver-style crash recovery for those rare (but nonetheless annoying instances) when IE7 actually crashes.

IE7Pro Options ScreenAnother really interesting enhancements is the ‘Save current tab to image’ option. This takes a snapshot of an entire web page as a PNG, JPG, GIF, TIF or BMP image. True, this is not as handy as Scrapbook text plus images option but it’s a beginning. To activate the feature, click the IE7Pro icon in the IE7 Status Bar, then choose ‘Save current tab to image’ option, select the save to location and preferred image format. That’s all you need to saves the entire page to an image.

But there’s always a small black cloud 🙁 IE7Pro is still missing a Firefox-style URL complete feature that extends to .net and .org (.com is a native IE7 function triggered with Ctrl+Enter). Nor is their Function Key re-mapping or custom URL auto-complete keyboard combinations (both like the other IE wrappers offer).

IE7Pro is truly a must-have Internet Explorer plug-in. As of writing IE7Pro 9.10 was the stable release. There’s also an excellent FAQ and feature description available in the IE7Pro User Guide.

That’s it for the week. Stay safe! And I’ll have more for you soon.

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