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Q: HTML on CD-ROM - Easiest way to distribute info? ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   6 Comments )
Subject: HTML on CD-ROM - Easiest way to distribute info?
Category: Computers > Programming
Asked by: webdesignguy-ga
List Price: $10.00
Posted: 20 Mar 2003 10:21 PST
Expires: 19 Apr 2003 11:21 PDT
Question ID: 178742
A client of mine would like to include a large number of CAD drawings
and other documents (PDF) to some clients that they deal with.

From the way he described the project to me, I would like to add the
info to their website, even if it is a password protected portion of
the site.  So far, I can't find any reason why his requirements would
not work online.  ie. find the product, link to the drawing and PDFs -
simple stuff.  The only obvious downside is the speed of downloads. 
That is where the CD has great benefit.

If he keeps the requirements simple like that and I add it to the
website, is there any particularly good reason why it would not be
optimal to also offer the client a CD-ROM of the site?  This would
seem a no-brainer.

He is big on wanting a CD, I am more interested in doing it online
(ease of updating etc).  Obviously once I have it online, I can easily
burn him a bunch of CD's.


Is my assumption correct that if I can do it in normal HTML, then
there would be no reason to do it using any other programming
language?  My thought is then I don't have to worry about any
compatibility issues, installations, crashing other software,
extensive testing, platform issues, etc.

It would be a HUGE nightmare if something went wrong with the CD and
caused his clients great grief.  Again, if I can do it in HTML and
have it fire up the browser on the user's machine, then would this not
be the safest route?

Thanks for any suggestions or comments.

Best regards,


Request for Question Clarification by webadept-ga on 20 Mar 2003 13:17 PST

It looks like you have more than enough for an answer here already.
One suggestion is that you might want to look at using Flash with a
project like this, which would allow you to use a static XML file for
data, and do some other things that straight HTML won't let you do.
Just a suggestion there. Good luck on your project.


Clarification of Question by webdesignguy-ga on 20 Mar 2003 14:35 PST
Yes, the comments have been quite useful.

I'm really not a flash kind of person, but point well taken.  

Given the fact that the end users will be architects, typically
running mission critical workstations, I don't want to assume much in
the way of additional software on their system.  If I go with the
lowest common denominator of a browser and Adobe Acrobat, I think I
can make the whole thing work just fine.

I can't think of any downsides to this approach.  Was I correct in
saying to my customer that from a programming language standpoint,
this was the safest route?  The downside to screwing this up would be

Am I correct in my assumption that pretty much any other
language/method would include getting the user to install software on
his machine?  My concern would be that without extensive testing, this
may cause him some other issues on his machine.

Thanks again,

Subject: Re: HTML on CD-ROM - Easiest way to distribute info?
Answered By: hammer-ga on 21 Mar 2003 04:38 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
As you asked for any of us to "answer" this question, I commented
first, so I guess I'll bite! :)

To sum up:
You should have no real problems making a great distributable CD using
HTML. If you use relative links, it should make no difference what
drive letter the user has set for the CD drive. George_jempty's
comment includes information about some good utilities, if you need to
include scripting capabilities. J_phillip makes a good point about
exporting to static HTML to avoid scripting.

Additional Resources:
Since using autorun to automatically open your CD to a web page does
not work right, here a link to a free utility that allows you to do

ShellRun Freeware version instructions

Good luck with your project!

- Hammer
webdesignguy-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars
Thanks very much for confirming what I had thought.  Thanks also to
george_jempty-ga and j_philipp-ga for their very useful comments and

Best regards,

Subject: Re: HTML on CD-ROM - Easiest way to distribute info?
From: hammer-ga on 20 Mar 2003 10:28 PST
I've done this many times without trouble and it works very well. Make
sure your URLs are relative, so they reference the CD rather than the
website and you should be fine.

- Hammer
Subject: Re: HTML on CD-ROM - Easiest way to distribute info?
From: webdesignguy-ga on 20 Mar 2003 10:33 PST
Thanks for the comment.  Good point, I'm usually a relative link kinda
guy anyways.

I've done it a couple of times myself as well.  He seems so caught up
in the CD-ROM world and wants it pretty fancy, which is OK with me.  I
would just hate to do up something which is going to conflict with
anything.  For my money, HTML seems to involve the least aggravation
and the lowest level of possible problems.

One of those issues where the answer seems so obvious to me, I just
want to make sure that I'm not missing something.

Best regards,

Subject: Re: HTML on CD-ROM - Easiest way to distribute info?
From: george_jempty-ga on 20 Mar 2003 11:31 PST
If it's straight HTML it should be no problem.  However, there are
even options for running web servers -- and even databases -- off a CD
rom, if you need to have any dynamic CGI type scripting.  For one
thing, has a product called MicroWeb I've tinkered
around with a bit.  It lets you do CGI with Perl off a CD rom.

Another option is tclhttpd.  Its a web server written in Tcl; to run
it you would need a "standalone" Tcl interpreter, and there's one
called TclKit available at  This will allow the web server
to run, and for cgi programming to be done in Tcl, right from a CD

I especially like the tclhttpd option, because then you could use Tcl
to read from an "SQLite" database.  It's "file-based", like Access,
and there's already a TCL interface to it.  More information is
available at

All of these programs put together aren't even 10MB, leaving plenty of
room on the CD for content and so forth.  I know this goes over and
above what you asked, but just in case you ever have this sort of
Subject: Re: HTML on CD-ROM - Easiest way to distribute info?
From: webdesignguy-ga on 20 Mar 2003 11:57 PST
Thanks george_jempty-ga for the extra suggestions.  I had wondered
about a few of those other items.  I have debated about using a
database on the cd, but I can think I can get away without one.  Good
links though - good to keep in mind for other projects as well.

Best regards,

Subject: Re: HTML on CD-ROM - Easiest way to distribute info?
From: j_philipp-ga on 21 Mar 2003 02:20 PST

You ask, "Am I correct in my assumption that pretty much any other
language/method would include getting the user to install software on
his machine?"

It depends on the target Operating Systems, really. You can use e.g.
Macromedia Director to create standalone executables for PC and
Macintosh. I would still say HTML is the "safest" and certainly most
cross-platform way of delivering content on a CD-ROM. As for Acrobat
Reader, that one is not installed on every PC. You might want to think
about putting this software, as well as some browsers, on the CD as

As for the HTML, as has been mentioned by Hammer, just make sure your
links are not in the style of e.g. "/pics/this.jpg".

And as for using server-side scripting (like if you have a database),
if necessary you might consider writing a simple "export to static
HTML" function to prepare the content for offline viewing.

Good luck!
Subject: Re: HTML on CD-ROM - Easiest way to distribute info?
From: webdesignguy-ga on 21 Mar 2003 04:15 PST
Thanks j_philipp-ga - good points.  It does seem that there wasn't
anything obvious that I had missed.

If any of you fine folks would like to convert your comments to an
answer, I would be most happy to close the question and get the
payment your way.

Thanks again to all.

Best regards,


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