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 CD Browsers and Autorun Tools

It is recommended that CD-ROMs have autorun capability. However it is often desirable to directly launch the setup program. Instaead you can use a small "teaser" application, often also called "CD Browsers".

Autorun.inf Documentation

To enable autoplay for a CD-ROM you must place an autorun.inf file in the root directory. Format and command for autorun.inf files are documented in the following article in the Microsoft Platform SDK:

WWW Creating an AutoPlay-enabled CD-ROM Application

Microsoft knowledge base article 818804 also discusses this topic:

WWW HOW TO: Create an Autorun CD-ROM for Applications That You Create by Using Microsoft Visual Studio .NET

Note: Some setup authoring tools have an option to automatically create a basic autorun.inf file.

CD Autorun Applications


Description from the manufacturer:
Discstarter is the industry-leading solution for HTML-based autorun CD-ROM menus and front-ends. Many major companies from around the world use Discstarter to successfully implement autostart menus and front ends for software CD-ROMs, E-Learning publications, electronic catalogues, manuals, digital business cards or company and product presentations. Discstarter is also used by many leading magazine publishers for their covermount CD-ROM menus.
Discstarter is an application that allows you to create professional looking CD-ROM autorun menus, front-ends and many other kinds of applications based on easy to create HTML pages (including multimedia such as videos, Flash, Java etc.). With Discstarter you can fully customize the look and feel as well as the behavior of the browser window to your individual requirements.

Discstarter Beispiel
Discstarter supports a variety of window styles

Discstarter is available in two license models:

WWW Discstarter product description and demo download

deutsch Also available in German / Auch auf deutsch verfügbar:

Beschreibung vom Hersteller:
Discstarter ist die führende Lösung für CD-ROM Autostart-Menüs und Oberflächen auf Basis von HTML. Viele Unternehmen auf der ganzen Welt setzen Discstarter erfolgreich zur Umsetzung von Autostart-Menüs und Oberflächen von Software CD-ROMs, E-Learning-Publikationen, elektronischen Katalogen, Handbüchern, digitalen Visitenkarten oder Firmen- und Produktpräsentationen ein. Discstarter wird außerdem von zahlreichen, führenden Zeitschriftenverlagen zur Umsetzung von Menüs auf Heft-CDs verwendet.
Discstarter ist eine Anwendung, die Ihnen die Erstellung von professionellen CD-ROM Oberflächen, Menüs und anderen Anwendungen auf Basis von einfach zu erstellenden HTML-Seiten (inkl. Multimedia wie Videos, Flash und Java) ermöglicht. Mit Discstarter können Sie das Look & Feel ebenso wie das gesamte Verhalten des Browserfensters vollständig an Ihre Anforderungen anpassen. Klicken Sie hier um mehr Informationen über Discstarter zu erhalten!

Discstarter gibt es in zwei Lizenz-Varianten:

  • Project License - Lizenz für ein einzelnes CD-ROM-Projekt (Master) welches das Discstarter Laufzeit System verwendet. Es fallen keine weiteren Lizenzkosten an und Sie können beliebig viele Kopien Ihrer CD-ROM verteilen. Auch Updates oder kleine Änderungen an dem bestehenden CD-ROM-Projekt sind mit dieser Lizenz gestattet. Beispiel: Sie möchten einen digitalen Produktkatalog auf CD-ROM erstellen und an Ihre Kunden verteilen. Von Zeit zu Zeit wird der Katalog jedoch aktualisiert.
  • Publishers License - Lizenz für die Verwendung mit einer unbegrenzten Anzahl an CD-ROM-Projekten (Master) welche das Discstarter Laufzeit System verwenden. Es fallen keine weiteren Lizenzkosten an und Sie können beliebig viele Kopien Ihrer CD-ROMs verteilen.
    Beispiel: Sie sind ein Software-Hersteller und veröffentlichen Ihre Software-Produkte auf CD-ROMs (eine für Produkt A, eine weitere für Produkt B, etc.).

WWW Discstarter Produktbeschreibung und Demo-Download

HTML Autoplay

This CD autorun application uses Internet Explorer embedded in a dialog to display HTML pages. It uses a simple ini file to direct the embedded browser to the autorun homepage and uses a custom HREF protocol to handle ShellExecuteEx commands to perform things like printing, launching readmes, and executing applications. These custom HREF commands are configured and defined in the self-documented autoplay.ini file. It was developed on Win2000, VC6, SP3 and requires IE4+ on the user's machine in order to function.


ZIP   Written by Matt Weagle
File size: 213.621 bytes   Last update: 2003-03-14

The source code for this tool is also available. Any bugs/mods/improvements that you have found/implemented should be reported to Matt Weagle.

ZIP   Written by Matt Weagle
File size: 30.179 bytes   Last update: 2002-04-29

CD Browser Written in InstallScript

This is a modified setup.rul that lets the user select which product to install, and launches the appropriate setup.

ZIP (3.869 Bytes)    Provided by Hans Krauer

E_Cat Wizard Style CD Browser/Setup Launcher

E_Cat (Easily Configured Autorun Tool, formerly known as "Autorunwiz") is a CD Browser that displays a wizard page with a series of buttons that will call various installs. It looks roughly like an InstallShield setup but it is a single executable instead of an IS project. Also all the information for the buttons is read from an ini file. The idea is that someone who doesn't know InstallShield can modify the selections. The ini file can also be used to change other user interface items like the bitmap, title, text message above the buttons, etc. If there are more than nine buttons, additional screens will be displayed. The user can go back and fourth between all screens. On the first screen the "< Back" button is disabled. On the last screen, the other button says "Finish". On all other screens it says "More >". That text can be changed in the ini file as well.
Practically everything can be resized and/or moved. All of the buttons can be changed, or just individual ones. You can put an icon or bitmap on a button instead of text. You can have one color in your custom bitmap be made transparent. You can change the font that is used for the text. You can specify an icon for the program to use. Now E_Cat copies the ini file and any images to a temp directory on the user's machine when it first opens them. This way the CD can be removed from the drive while E_Cat is running and it will still function. This behavior can be overridden. The ZIP file now includes a basic and an advanced sample.

WWW Visit Web Site   Written by Elihu Rozen

Various other CD-ROM Browsers

There are several other tools to create CD-ROM autorun applications. Here are a few web sites that you may want to visit:

WWW GS Technologies homepage

WWW IndigoRose Software Design Corp.

WWW Pollen Software

Note: DemoShield from Macrovision (formerly InstallShield) is no longer available as of January 1, 2007.

Document Launchers

How To Launch CDs with HTML Applications

This article by Anthony Glenwright (published at DevX) explains how to create a HTML Application (HTA) to be used as autorun screen for your cd.

WWW Read the article


StarterFile is a commercial tool sold by Trah

StarterFile supports most file types including HTML, PDF, PowerPoint and Flash. A free evaluation version can be downloaded.

WWW Visit the StarterFile home page for more information

Various CD-ROM Helpers

Make Shortcut Independent of CD Drive Letter

You know the problem: In PCs with removable drives the letter of the CD drive tends to change frequently. Thus the shortcut you create to your CD-based application now may be invalid in the future. GetCD addresses this issue by searching all current drive letters, finding the first (if there are multiple) CD ROM drive. It appends to that drive letter the filename, or path and filename, you pass it in the command-line and launches the combination.

If you need to open a CD-based web document, GetCD will pull the default web browser command from the registry, append to it the CD ROM drive letter, then append to that the path/filename you pass to it from the command line.

If the filename/path in the command line does not exist on the CD, a browse dialog will appear, asking the user to manually search for the document or executable.

ZIP (116.904 Bytes)   Provided by Scott Yeager

Check Adminstator Privileges

Often it would be nice to check whether the currently logged on user has Administrator privileges before starting the installation. Here is a function written in C that you can use in a launcher application to check the user privileges.

Note: this package only includes C source code for this function, not a completed setup.exe

ZIP   Written by Torsten Brannolte
File size: 1.422 bytes   Last update: 2001-12-04

Setup Starter for CD Root

If you don't want to clutter the root of your CD with all the files that InstallShield needs in the same directory as setup.exe, this program is made for you. You place your "real" setup program in a sub-directory and specify its location in an INI file. When the user double-clicks this stub program (or starts it using the Add/Remove Programs control panel applet) it will launch your setup. Important: You have to rename your "real" setup.exe to something like install.exe.

This tool can use the same INI file as the Smart CD Autorun Launcher.

Use of this tool requires a license, which can be obtained free of charge. See the readme file for details.

ZIP   Written by Stefan Krueger
File size: 4.854 bytes   Last update: 2002-04-29

Smart CD Autorun Launcher

Launching your setup automatically when the CD is inserted into the drive is easy. But if the CD is required after your application has been installed (to access some data files that were not copied to the hard disk), launching setup each time is not desirable. Microsoft recommends a CD Browser, but starting this Multimedia application each time you insert the CD can be annoying. (Remember installing a device driver from your Windows CD, and suddenly "Tadaa" the CD browser pops up?).

Here is a smarter Autorun program. It checks registry to see if your application is already installed, and launches setup only if it was not found. In case your application is already installed, Autorun can be configured to launch the application. Also, this tool does not start a second instance of setup in case your CD has to be removed and later re-inserted while your setup is running (e.g. to install a device driver from the Windows CD).

This tool can use the same INI file as the Setup Launcher for CD Root.

Use of this tool requires a license, which can be obtained free of charge. See the readme file for details.

ZIP  Written by Stefan Krueger
File size: 11.672 bytes   Last update: 2003-07-04

Setup Launchers for Windows Installer

Programs to install the Windows Installer runtime files and launch the MSI file can be found on the Windows Installer Tools page.

Setup Launcher to Suppress Maintenance Mode in IS6 and ISD7

If you run a setup created with InstallShield 6 or InstallShield Developer 7 a second time it automatically enters maintenance mode. This program makes sure that setup is always started in "first time" mode. To achieve this it searches the computer's registry for all the Uninstall keys.  It then searches the keys for a DisplayName value that matches InstallShield's String Table entry for PRODUCT_NAME.  If found it then reads the value of LogFile which gives the Drive and Path to where the Setup.ilg is found. It will then delete this file and launch InstallShield's setup program. You can rename SetupLauncher.exe to Setup.exe to always launch in "First Time" mode. (Of course this requires that you also rename InstallShield's setup.exe. Detailed instructions can be found in the Readme file.)

See also:

ZIP   Written by Dave Pehrson
File size: 121.840 bytes   Last update: 2001-11-13




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