Re: Question: Launching applications from web page

Subject: Re: Question: Launching applications from web page
From: Tim Altom <taltom -at- IQUEST -dot- NET>
Date: Mon, 23 Feb 1998 08:57:19 -0500

>First, the scenario: I want my users to download documents from my web page.
>Downloading a MS Word file launches MS Word, and the document is displayed,
>no problems. However, when I download a second file, a second copy of MS
>Word is opened, and the second document is displayed there.
>By comparison, when I download PDF files from the intranet, each one is
>displayed in the same copy of the Adobe Acrobat Reader. (My colleague
>reminds me that in Windows Explorer, when I double click the icon of a MS
>Word document, it opens in the same window as previously opened files.)

First, it depends on how your local machine is set up, and how your
download is conducted. If you download a file that the system recognizes as
a valid data file, you can instruct the download application to "run" the
downloaded file. Of course, it won't "run"; the system association kicks in
and starts the appropriate app. This has nothing to do with the browser.
You can, alternatively, choose to simply store the downloaded file and
manipulate it later. The launching and display are done courtesy of the
system, not the browser.

However, the download has no way of keeping track of such events. Once
done, it's forgotten. So when you download another Word file, the whole
thing happens all over again. The browser has no communication with Word.

On the other hand, the browser usually has a connection with Acrobat,
because they're designed that way, as host and plug-in. You can run Acrobat
independently, but there's little reason to when Netscape and Explorer will
use it as a plug-in and run it within the browser. So when you download a
PDF, the browser DOES have a way to keep track of the doc and its display
device. When you download another PDF, the old one is kept in temporary
storage and the second one takes its place.

Another little twist is that optimized PDFs can be byteserved from an
appropriate server, meaning that it comes in page-by-page, not all at once,
which can take forever and three days.

Remember that part of the general browser requirement is that it be
system-independent, meaning that it can't dink with what's on your hard
drive or network drive. The browser is designed to be, and should be, an
app that sends pleading calls to the system for assistance with everything
that happens outside of the browser, itself. No direct read or write. No
ability to control the launch of any app. Without that assurance every page
you view could be a virus. So the browser can't launch Word. The system
does that. Now, you can insert a macro in your Word files that controls how
they're displayed once Word is active, but that's about as far as you can go.

Best of luck.

Tim Altom
Vice President, Simply Written, Inc.
317.899.5882 (voice) 317.899.5987 (fax)
FrameMaker support ForeHelp support
FrameMaker Conversions
PDF Consulting and Production
Clustar (TM) Documentation Methodology

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