Cross-platform executable/runtime delivery method

I need assistance finding a delivery method that best fulfills the following requirements:

  • We wish to deliver a single file to my clients.
  • Clients should be able to launch this file from the operating system shell - much like running an '.exe' on Windows.
  • After being launched, the program/script should be able to display a window with HTML content. this may be done using a stand alone program, a runtime or by running within a browser.
  • We need the ability to embed a resource within the delivered file, such as an mp3 file, which i can later extract programmatically.
  • Optimally, the solution should run on Windows, Mac and Linux machines. Less than perfect cross-platform interoperability is acceptable, but we want as broad a penetration as possible.
  • Clients should not need to pre-install anything (unless it is done transparently), pre-configure anything, or approve any thing for this to happen.

For example:

  • We could use a regular executable file, written in C++ to do this, but it will not be cross-platform.
  • We could use a sliverlight XAP file, an adobe Flex file or a Java JAR, but internet explorer warns users when local content is launched. In addition these approaches mean that we have less than perfect penetration, even though it is acceptable in these cases.
  • We could use a python (or equivalent) script, but the installed-base (penetration) of the python interpreter is not good enough.
  • Using a standard HTML is not enough because of the difficulty of embedding resources in it. Embedding Silverlight XAML or uuencoded content in HTML causes IE to display a warning.
  • Using something along the lines of a jpeg as a delivery method is not rich enough since we need to display HTML.


..but internet explorer warns users when local content is launched..

I don't get it, what's the problem with IE saying "Hey this app is trying to run your files!"

I don't mean you don't have a good reason for this, it is just, I don't get it.

IE will only warn the user if the app has not been downloaded and try to access local resources, for instance if running from an applet or a JNLP like this one:(click on the first orange button you see )

But if the users download the jar and run it from the computer ( double click on it ) the app is local and can run without problems.

The jar file is a zip file after all, so you can attach your mp3 file with it. Double click is supported in the desired platform, and the HTML content could be either a local file ( un-packed along with the mp3 file ) or an internet web page.

Java is preinstalled on those OS already.

"internet explorer warns users when local content is launched"

There's a reason for this. How can they distinguish your excellent, well-behaved, polite application from a virus?

Since the line between your app and a virus is very, very blurry, go with any of Silverlight XAP file, an adobe Flex file or a Java JAR.

The IE business is a good thing, not a bad thing.

You could try using the 'Jetty' application server.

This supposes there is a working java environment on the target machine.

Jetty is java servlet container but it is possible to configure everything (web server, html templates, applications, etc.) in a single executable jar, which launches the web server and opens a default page.

Exactly how the jar file is launched will vary from platform to platform but otherwise the user interface will be identicle, and, as its a java application you can do pretty much anything one it has started.

Sounds like MIME HTML does exactly what you want - unfortunately, it is not supported by many browsers other than IE.

I'd investigate Adobe AIR. It can display both HTML and Flex content in a desktop application without using a web browser. However this will require installation of the AIR runtime, also I'm not sure if the Linux version is out of the beta stage.

You can also use a binary for each platform.

As per your description the app is very simple, and porting from one platf to another sounds like just matter of re-compile and offer binary based on the dist.

Is this an option?

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