Front end for samples on CD?

Subject: Front end for samples on CD?
From: "Hart, Geoff" <Geoff-H -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 25 Feb 2002 09:29:42 -0500

Ken Jacobs wondered: <<I want to create a front end so I can access writing
samples on a CD. (i.e. click on a link to display a PDF or HTML file instead
of going to a folder on the CD and double-clicking on a file). I am
considering PowerPoint, RoboHelp winhelp or HTML help>>

The simplest way to do this is to treat the CD as a Web page. That's
particularly true given that the other files on the CD are all the kinds of
things that can be read in a browser. Just make sure you develop a logical
hierarchy of information that shows you understand how to design things;
there's no easier way to turn off a prospective employer or client than to
produce "shovelware".

Tom Johnson suggested that to make the software run without requiring users
to double-click on it: <<You have to have a little program called
ShelExec.exe on the CD. Your autorun.inf would look something like this
open=ShelExec.exe welcome.html
For some reason, putting an HTML file as the "startup file" won't work.
Windows looks for an executable. This is just a way around that.>>

Cool trick; I knew about the autorun, but not the executable problem. A few
additional points: First, quite a number of Windows users have the autorun
feature for CDs disabled, and this will defeat the autorun approach; you'll
still have to include instructions on the CD case to help any of these
people who aren't computer-literate enough to simply open the directory and
double-click the one file showing in the root directory.

Second, your suggestion only works for Windows users, who are admittedly the
majority. If you're working with a more diverse audience, you'll need to
make sure the CD follows the correct multiplatform standard (e.g., ISO 9660,
if memory serves?) so that everyone can read it, includes appropriate
instructions for each platform you're targeting, and uses file naming
conventions that work on all platforms. If you use all-lowercase file names
that follow the DOS 8.3 format, you're more likely to be compatible with

Last but not least, there are probably tricks you can use to make each
platform automatically launch the CD. Not sure how to do this in Unix, but
I'm reasonably certain that putting the appropriate file (e.g., the home
page for your samples) into a folder named "Startup items" will launch the
file on a Mac. (Not currently working at home, so I can't confirm the
details... Mac users feel free to provide more complete details.)

--Geoff Hart, FERIC, Pointe-Claire, Quebec
geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca
"User's advocate" online monthly at

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from a
personality, and an obnoxious one at that."—Kim Roper

Now's a great time to buy RoboHelp! You'll get SnagIt screen capture
software and a $200 onsite training voucher FREE when you buy RoboHelp
Office or RoboHelp Enterprise. Hurry, this offer expires February 28, 2002.

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