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Opening a URL in the browser from a C++ program.

Posted on 1998-06-20
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Last Modified: 2012-06-21
What's the most robust (and portable across browser types) technique for a VC++ program to
cause the end user's Win95 PC default browser to load a URL? I have used the following code
to do this, but have experienced that some end users report a problem that their browser
(either IE or Netscape) pop up an error message stating that the page cannot be loaded
even though the URL can be loaded "manually" by the user.

void show_url(const char* url)
{
char command[MAX_PATH+14];
GetWindowsDirectory(command, MAX_PATH);
strcat(command, "\\rundll32.exe");
if (spawnl(_P_DETACH, command, "rundll32.exe", "url.dll,FileProtocolHandler", url, (const char*) NULL) == -1)
{
   // print error message
}
}

I've also seen the following code fragment used in an example on Microsoft's web site:

ShellExecute (GetDesktopWindow(), "open", "http://www.microsoft.com/", NULL, NULL, SW_SHOW);

Any feedback or experience in a robust technique to perform this task would be appreciated.
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Question by:rljj
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by:rljj
ID: 1166365
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by:rljj
ID: 1166366
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jhance earned 300 total points
ID: 1166367
The ShellExecute method is the MS recommended way of doing this and I've used it a lot with good results.  The biggest problem with it that sometimes people unregister (knowingly or not) the htm/html/http file association.  This, of course, causes an error.  It's probably best to assume that there is a problem and check the registy for the proper file association before running ShellExecute.  I suspect that if you traced through ShellExecute, you'd end up finding code just like your first example.
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Expert Comment

by:chensu
ID: 1166368
There is an article about this in Windows Developer's Journal August 1997. You can download the source code at http://www.wdj.com. It is inside patersn.zip. It implements a function called GotoURL. The GotoURL function calls ShellExecute first. If it fails, it gets the information from the registry and run the default Web browser.
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