This article applies to Articulate Presenter 5. See what’s new in Presenter ’09!
Update (10.1.2008): The Publish to CD feature of Presenter ’09 creates a self-contained .EXE player, so this issue will not occur in local playback if publishing to CD in Presenter ’09. Learn how to upgrade.
Internet Explorer and the Flash Player don’t always like it when you play Articulate content from a local drive or a CD-ROM. That can result in frustrating authoring and user experiences.
If you’re like many of our customers, you have courses you’ve created with Articulate Presenter that you want to distribute to your hundreds or thousands of customers on CD-ROM.
But then you start hearing complaints from your CD users:
- Why is Flash giving me a security warning when I view my Presenter output?
- Why won’t my attachments open in Internet Explorer?
- What’s with this ActiveX warning IE keeps giving me? (This shouldn’t be an issue if you’ve published with Presenter 5.1 or later.)
There are work-arounds to all these issues (click above links for related Knowledge Base entries), but they require some manual effort by both you (for attachments to work) and your users (to get past Flash security and ActiveX warnings).
So what if you want to do all the work up-front on your end so that all your users have to do is insert your CD, launch the course, not be bothered by Flash security or ActiveX warnings, and have attachments work as expected from Internet Explorer?
You put your course on a Web server. Or you simulate a Web server on your CD. How do you do this? It’s simpler than you might think.
Server2Go is a CD-ROM Webserver. That means it is a webserver that can run directly from cdrom without installation. Server2Go allows you to create a working web site or PHP application on a CD-ROM. Using a web browser, a user can run php programs as well as view html files on the CD-ROM. He only need to insert a CD with Server2Go under the supported Windows operations systems. The server starts automatically and opens a browser with the Website of the CD-ROM.
Don’t be intimidated by the fact that it’s a Web server or that you might see references to Apache, PHP, and MySQL. You don’t need to be a server administrator to use this “donationware” product (make a donation if you use it to distribute your commercial content) — but if you are more technical, then I’m sure you’ll be able to find even more creative uses for it.
But let’s focus on the basics.
Here’s how to leverage Server2Go to auto-run your Presenter-created courses through a local Web server and save the trouble of making any edits to player.html, while preventing Flash security or ActiveX warnings from displaying to your users:
- Download and unzip Server2Go. I tested Version 1.4.0 of the product, which includes Apache 2.0.58 (zip download).
- Copy the contents of the Server2Go directory to the top level of a folder whose contents you’ll burn to CD, or a portable drive (I tested on a removable USB thumb drive).
- Double-click Server2Go.exe to confirm that you’ve successfully installed it. You’ll see this page launch (note the local URL: http://127.0.0.1:4001/):
- Copy the contents of your published Presenter output to the top level of the htdocs folder.
- Delete the existing index.php file that comes with Server2Go.
- Rename your player.html file to be index.html (if you have a launch page, you can name it index.html if you’d like):
- Refresh your browser test page and voila! You should see your course load at your local URL (http://127.0.0.1:4001/).
Server2Go has its own autorun.inf file that launches the EXE, so if you follow these instructions, your course should launch automatically when your users insert their CDs, but if it doesn’t, you can take these additional steps as a backup plan, which might be a good idea just in case:
- At the top level of your CD folder or portable drive, right-click on Server2Go.exe and select the option to “Create Shortcut.”
- Rename your new shortcut “LAUNCH COURSE” (or another meaningful name).
- Instruct your users that if the autorun does not work as expected and the course doesn’t launch on CD insert, they can double-click the “LAUNCH COURSE” file to run the local Web server and load the default (index.html) page in Internet Explorer (which Server2Go uses by default).
The following files created by Presenter when you publish to CD (and included in the above screenshot) are not necessary for this method of playback to work, but it doesn’t impact the results at all to leave them in place:
And there you have it! A fully functional, self-contained Web server that can run from any CD or drive without any warnings or attachment download issues.
HTML Baler and HTML Executable are often mentioned in our forums as alternatives for CD playback, too, but with mixed results. With the latter, attachments or anything that opens a new window won’t work, either.
Server2Go seems to be a solid solution that addresses all playback concerns typically seen when viewing content from a CD or local drive. Thanks to our forums’ own Cyberslam for the original pointer.
Disclaimer: Although Articulate often recommends third-party software to be used in conjunction with our own, Server2Go cannot be supported by Articulate and should be used at your own risk. I have tested the above steps, but we have not done thorough testing, so your results may vary.