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CDBrowser

(Version 3.2, February 23 2004)

CDBrowser is a stand-alone front-end application for distributed CD-ROM disks.

With it you can create complete off-line "web sites" which will run on any Windows 95 (or higher) computer, even if there is no web browser installed on the target machine.

Even better, CDB will seamlessly run executable (and other) files which are linked within your .html content, without putting up those annoying warnings that full-fledged web browsers do. For example, if you are making a CD containing AutoCAD drawings, for distribution to people who you know have AutoCAD installed, href links to the .dwg files will launch AutoCAD with the file loaded. Same with text files, windows help files, .pdf files, etc.

CDB was originally created for shareware authors, to create disks which would allow program installations on any target machine. But since it was first released I've been getting all sorts of people writing to tell me of other uses they have found for it. For example, business card CDs containing one's resume', collections of digital photos, etc., etc. The possibilities seem to be endless!

The separate "Setup Wizard", cdb_gen.exe, allows you to tweak your presentations size, start-up file, and menu in real time. You can specify the start-up height and width (or go full screen), and there is also a "borderless" option. You can work with as many different presentations as you wish, and each one's setting are retained between work sessions. The best part is that cdb_gen.exe also creates the autorun.inf file for you, with all of your preferred settings in place, ready to burn to CD-ROM!

Version 3.2 handles large graphics a lot better than the previous version.

Download CDB (788k) This is the complete, English language package with cdb.exe, the Setup Wizard, and help file. (See below for other options...)

CDBrowser Setup Wizard Screenshot

Screenshot of the Setup Wizard

Details

The installation program created a desktop icon for the Setup Wizard, not for CDB itself. CDB requires a number of command-line parameters to operate properly, and the Setup Wizard lets you experiment with these before you fire up your burner and start using disks :-).

Once you are satisfied with the presentation, the Wizard writes all the parameters for you, too. You don't *really* need to understand all this stuff :-).

When the user clicks on any HREF link to a file which does NOT have one of these extensions ( .htm .html .shtml .asp .gif .jpg .jpeg or .bmp) then CDB uses ShellExecute to attempt to run the file.

There are eight start-up parameters, all of which can be tweaked in the Setup Wizard. They are as follows:

1 - (Required) Debug mode switch. Must be either "-" or "d". In Debug mode, a red bar is superimposed at the top of the CDB display, and it shows what your href links are asking it to do. This is very handy for tracking down broken links in your content (see "Tips" below). To use it, click the "Preview in debug mode" button in the Setup Wizard.

2 - (Required) Start-up file name. Use "-" for "index.htm". This should be typed into the "First Page" box in the Wizard. Note that you can double-click on any file in the Wizard's file list to select it as the start-up file.

3 - (Required) Menu text for web browser launch item. Use "-" to hide the menu item. Type this into the "Web Link Text" box in the Wizard. This creates a top-level menu item in CDB which launches the target system's default web browser (as opposed to CDB!).

4 - (Required) Full URL for web browser launch menu item. Use "-" to hide. Type this into the "Web Link URL" box in the Wizard. This is the URL passed to the target system's default browser, if and when the menu item (see above) is clicked. You are advised to use a *full* URL (don't leave out the "http://www" part) as some older browsers can't understand the shortened versions which work fine with newer browsers.

5 - (Required) Maximize switch. Must be either "M" or "-". This makes CDB start up full-screen. Check the box in the Wizard to do this.

6 - (Required) No border switch. Must be either "N" or "-". This makes CDB start up and run with no border. This can be cool, but there are a few things to keep in mind if you use this option! Since there is no border (and so no end-user access to the menu) none of your web link stuff will work (items 3 and 4 above). So if you want a link to your outside website, you need to code it into your content. Same with the "Home", "Back", and "Exit" menu items - they won't be shown, so your content needs to explain that the Home key goes home, the Left Arrow key goes back, and the Escape key quits the browser. Also, when run borderless, CDB always displays the "About" dialog on shut down.

7 - (Required if not maximized) Form height.

8 - (Required if not maximized) Form width.

Create your masterpiece, tweak the appearance of the display in the Wizard, and then burn the entire contents of the folder(s) involved to CD. The Wizard will have created an autorun.inf file for you, and copied CDB.exe into place. That's all there is to it :-).

Tips

Some commercial web authoring tools are somewhat overly forgiving of poorly formed links and other html syntax errors (especially errors these tools create themselves). The result can be that your complex presentation works great on your development computer, but doesn't work when moved to another location (such as a CD-ROM), or when viewed with a different browser than the one is was first tested on.

One of the most common problems we've seen involves using disk drive letters and the "file" tag in links. For example, perhaps you are working on an office network, and you link to a document on another machine. You may have a link which looks like this:

<a href="file:///g:/documents/mydoc.htm">My Document</a>

... which works just fine in the office. The problem is that the people running your CD will not have a drive "g" with a "documents" folder in it, and so the link won't work for them. The solution is to copy the "documents" folder and all the files you plan to reference in it to the same "root" folder where your opening page is, and change the link to look something like this:

<a href="documents/mydoc.htm">My Document</a>

CDB is designed to be a CD-ROM browser, not an internet browser. If it encounters a link which starts with "http://" it will attempt to start up the system's web browser to display it - CDB will not display such links itself. This is an important consideration, especially if you are taking an existing internet website and converting it into a CD presentation. All of the internal links need to be simply to the folder and file on the CD.

CDBrowser is free - there is no charge for using it as-is, with no modifications. But... if you really find it useful, we sure would appreciate a donation :-)

Custom made versions are also available. Standard modifications might include your company name at the top of the form (instead of "CDBrowser"), and/or the elimination of the link to WaverlyStreet on the "About" menu item. We can also change the language of the menu items if you want. To obtain a custom version, please contact WaverlyStreet for details by writing to: WaverlyStreet Software, 277 W. Brighton Road, Columbus, Ohio 43202 (United States), or by email to dave@waverlystreet.com (or by other means posted at our website). Custom versions for commercial use start at as little as $200 US! Non-profit organizations may receive significant discounts, depending on the circumstances.


Here is a German language version. The .zip file contain only the browser cdb.exe. You are advised to install the full package first, then replace cdb.exe with this one.

 
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