Launch client executable from web browser

Posted on 2001-06-19
Last Modified: 2012-06-21
Is it possible to launch an executable (.exe) from an internet web site by clicking on a link within an html page?   Is there a way to force Netscape to prompt the user "open" a file, instead of "download" a file, when the user clicks on a link?

We were able to launch the executable from IE by doing the following:

1) Associated a "bogus" document extension (i.e. doc.9x9) to the executable (i.e. app.exe) on the client Windows machine.  Note: when we double click on the document within Windows Explorer, Microsoft Windows starts the application.

2) Created a link to the document (i.e. doc.9x9) - located on our web server directory - using HREF.  When the user clicks on the link, IE opens the "File Download" dialog.  If you then select "Open this file from its current location" and click the OK button, IE launches the application.  This is acceptable!!!

When we use Netscape and link to the document using HREF (same as in 2 above), Netscape opens the "Save as..." dialog.  Netscape assumes that we want to download the file.  We want Netscape to prompt the user "open" the file.

The webserver we are using is Microsoft IIS 4.0.  The executable is a file that is installed on each clients' Microsoft Windows machine.  This executable is NOT document based (i.e. Microsoft Word and Excel are document based.)  

The solution must work for both IE and Netscape browsers.  Security warnings are acceptable.  
Question by:plikakis
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Expert Comment

ID: 6208412
In Netscape you can go to Edit | Preferences | Applications and create the file type for your bogus file type to open with your application(executable).  You will have to do this on each windows machine.


Author Comment

ID: 6208435
I had already tried this and Netscape still wanted to download the file.  I created a "new type" and entered the "file extension" and "application to use".  Do I have to enter something in the "Mime Type" field?

Expert Comment

ID: 6208479
Yes you do.  What depends on the application.
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Author Comment

ID: 6208487
It's not a standard application, it's a citrix based application.  I am not sure what the type should be.  Is there a "catch all" application type?
LVL 28

Expert Comment

ID: 6208618
is it acceptable to get a plug-in for netscape to allow for activex solutions to be run from the browser? if so, then you could use something like WSH client side to execute the program

Expert Comment

ID: 6208868
What does the mime type show for in windows File Type settings?

There is a plug-in available for netscape to allow activex but I'm not sure what its called.

If this is on your intranet, can you not require that for this page/site that your users use IE?  

LVL 19

Expert Comment

ID: 6210179
Most browsers will NOT open an app automatically. You will get the prompt to save or open -- and then it's up to you.

This will happen whether the app is on your computer or the server. It's a security feature. You can possibly get around it using WSH in IE, but not in Netscape.

Expert Comment

ID: 6210647
Webwoman is correct.  Most browsers will Not open an app automatically.

However in both IE and Netscape you have the option to uncheck the box to "always ask before opening files of this type".  Which I don't suggest having your users do for security reasons as webwoman stated.

Author Comment

ID: 6210736
- We do not want to automatically start the application;  we want to prompt the user. Netscape does not prompt us - it just wants to download the file.  We are happy with the way IE behaves (it prompts.)

- We can not force IE; this is not an intranet environment.  The site will be on the internet in a portal (user/password will be required to login).

- The MIME type in windows File Type settings is empty.  We tried some application types without success.  Any suggestions?


Accepted Solution

raizon earned 300 total points
ID: 6210751
In that case I don't think you can achieve what you want with netscape.

LVL 15

Expert Comment

ID: 6524652
This question has been open for some time and is now in
need of wrapping up.

Please DO NOT accept this comment as the answer to the question, it is purely an alert to the fact that this question is still open.

It would be greatly appreciated if any of the participants could comment back here in order to give assistance in what the status of this question is and what should be done with it (delete, 0 PAQ, award points etc).

Kindest Regards


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