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Start up htm page not opening app when burn to CD

Posted on 2012-09-05
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Last Modified: 2013-11-19
Trying to figure out why when I burn this file to CD, it stops working.
Have a Robohelp help application that runs off a CD.  below is the code.

<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01 Transitional//EN">
<html>
<head>
<meta http-equiv="Refresh" content="0;url=Webhelp/StartHelp.htm">
</head>

</body>
</html>

I believe it has to do with sometype of security on our machines.  Works fine on XP but when upgraded to Windows 7, no longer works.  But does work on Home machine.  Using IE 8 at work and 9 at home. Not aloud to upgrade at work.  All the file is suppose to do is open the default htm page.  Not allowed to use exe so not sure whatelse I can do if I can't get this to work.
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Question by:MadIce
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Expert Comment

by:Kyle Hamilton
ID: 38371749
maybe the path needs to be absolute?
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BillDL earned 2000 total points
ID: 38373143
There is most certainly a security aspect involved with running anything that is even vaguely "scripted" from what Windows refers to as Removable Media or Removable Drives.  Too many viruses have been spread by drives that autorun content; through content on them being able to run with lowered security; and other issues.

I'm surprised that XP allows it following SP3 and IE updates and successive security patches, but the "Meta Refresh" is one of those sneaky ones that isn't really a script and, although it can be used quite legitimately, it can also be used by infected websites to take you to compromised sites in the wink of an eye before you know what is happening.

I haven't ever used Adobe RoboHelp before, so I am not sure how heavily scripted the resultant HTM pages are, but chances are that even if you get this to run on one page, it may keep prompting you about running "scripted" content with each page you open, or in a corporate environment might be totally blocked and just fail, depending on security settings.

I am puzzled why you have an HTM/HTML web page on a CD that has the sole purpose of doing a Meta Refresh to load another web page.  Why not just have an "Index.htm" page with clickable links that load other pages in new windows/tabs?

Presumably your "/Webhelp" folder is actually on the CD and contains "StartHelp.htm" and perhaps other files?

You are trying to get "StartHelp.htm" to autorun when the CD is inserted, correct?

I am sure that the default behaviour in the latest patched Windows XP is to disallow Autorun for CDs.  Autorun is different from the AutoPlay event that detects the nature of the content on a CD and either runs or prompts for the action eg. Browse CD in Windows Explorer, Play in Windows Media Player, etc.

Autorun refers to a file named "autorun.inf" in the root of the CD, Windows reading this on CD insertion, and running the commands contained in it.  In its most basic form an autorun.inf form only needs to contain two lines:

[autorun]
open=program.exe

You can have quite a few other lines in it like Microsoft Office installation CDs have, and they are shown here:
http://www.samlogic.net/articles/autorun-commands.htm
There have been some quite radical changes in this respect AFTER Windows XP, and some things that work in XP exhibit bizarre and unexpected results on a Vista or Windows 7 computer:
http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa969327.aspx

A lot of people end up struggling to get this working on one Windows version only to find that it fails on another, or it works on their home PC but not in a corporate environment.  This is nothing new.

Historically people had to use autorun.exe files, which is something that you hinted at as being disallowed at your work place.  Many have found a way around this by using *.HTA files which are a mixture of plain HTML and scripts, and bypass practically all restrictions of a standard HTML web page because they run in "mshta.exe" rather than the restrictive settings of an Internet browser.  I could probably find enough information to create an HTA file to test with, but you it might be as easy for you to check out if this still works from CDs in modern versions of Windows by searching for "CD autorun hta file".

Another thing you might wish to consider is creating an <IFRAME> in the HTM page in the root of your CD and loading the Webhelp/StartHelp.htm into it.  Again, though, IFRAMES have been used maliciously with great success to download and install malware, so in some corporate environments this might be restricted.  Usually the restriction is to prevent data from ANOTHER outside domain from being loaded into the IFRAME, so it might work on a CD.

http://www.w3schools.com/tags/tag_iframe.asp

Try this first and see what happens:

[AutoRun]
shellexecute="Webhelp/StartHelp.htm"

or a variation:
[AutoRun]
shellexecute="./Webhelp/StartHelp.htm"

or even without the dot.

This MIGHT just work, you never know:

[AutoRun]
open=Webhelp/StartHelp.htm

You cannot have "absolute paths" on a CD, because the drive letter will be different on other computers.  The paths must be relative to autorun.inf or to the web page containing a link.

From a personal viewpoint I would discourage you from using a Meta Refresh.  That's one of my pet hates.  If a website has moved, I would far rather they just showed a static page with a hyperlink to the new one that I can inspect.  A Meta Refresh with a zero seconds timer and no information about what is happening isn't really good practice.
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Author Comment

by:MadIce
ID: 38373921
BillDL,

Over the years the restrictions keep getting well more restrictive.  I use to use a sart.exe file but no longer allowed. The odd thing is I used this code in a previous version and it still works. the newer version is what has failed. The only difference is the name of the file. The only other issue I can think of is the compilation of the files is different and that is causing the problem. I'll need to take a look at the default page of each and compare. Maybe it's as simple as the settings I chose when compiling. Otherwise, I think you have given me another option I may use. Open a page with a link to the start file.
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Expert Comment

by:BillDL
ID: 38379380
I too used to use tiny executables like start.exe, go.exe, etc in the root of the CD that accepted and handled the command parameters depending on the program.  Many of Microsoft's resource CDs used a small executable that showed a dialog with clickable icons or text links.  All you had to do was modify the accompanying *.INI file to change the text, the commands, and the bitmap images to create a custom version.  I also used to use an application that would take a local "website" and pack it all into one EXE file that included its own standalone browser, and thus allowed you to protect a website and make it display consistently regardless of installed browser.

As you say, restrictions have proved necessary of recent times and the knock-on effect has been that you can no longer rely on "distributable" autorunning CDs to run as expected.

Blank CDs fortunately are cheap enough to experiment with, so it's very much a case of trial and error until you get one that runs as expected or behaves in an acceptable alternative way on the majority of different operating systems that you anticipate the recipients of the CDs to be running.  It all depends on what operating systems your target audience will be using, or else the end result is just something you cannot reasonably anticipate.
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Author Closing Comment

by:MadIce
ID: 38383127
The problem ended up being the htm file that was being called. There a setting in Robohelp that if selected adds a line of code the the top of the page. This line of code was the problem. changed the setting and Robohelp doesn't add it in when compiling. But I still find your answer useful and to keep in mind.
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Expert Comment

by:BillDL
ID: 38384106
Thanks for the update MadIce.  That's interesting about the extra line of code being the issue.   So the more basic the HTML code is the better it is suited for this type of thing.  What extra line was the problem?  The <!DOCTYPE> line, or some additional <script> line that was added?
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Author Comment

by:MadIce
ID: 38384204
This line is above <html> line
<!-- saved from url=(0014)about:internet -->

Not sure the purpose. I believe it has to do with preventing the activex warning from showing up.
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Expert Comment

by:BillDL
ID: 38385536
Thanks MadIce.  That's interesting.  The  <!--   -->    tags are just used to add remarks or comments useful for people looking at the code of the web page but which are ignored by the browser.  Internet Explorer always adds this line when you do a File > Save As > Web Page Complete.  When saving this page it adds:
<!-- saved from url=(0082)http://www.experts-exchange.com/Internet/Web_Development/Q_27854783.html -->

I'm not sure of the purpose of the number in brackets, (0014) in your example and (0082) in my example, but will look this up for my own curiosity later.

If it works with the <! DOCTYPE tag, then it's puzzling why the <! saved from  tag should cause issues, but there you go.  Sometimes it's the small things that can cause major headaches.
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Author Comment

by:MadIce
ID: 38387300
I didn't think of this before, but added that line of code to the start up page and it works. took out the <! DOCTYPE .
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