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Trouble report 462

Local Help pages display a security warning or blank window under Windows XP Service Pack 2

Versions affected

3.0 - 3.3

Description

New security features in Windows XP SP2 cause The Panorama Factory local help to display a security warning or display a blank window because either:

  1. JavaScript is not enabled in your browser
    --or--
  2. Windows security is blocking JavaScript.

The Panorama Factory's help file requires JavaScript to be enabled.

Workarounds


How to tell which problem you are having

You receive the security warning or blank help page because JavaScript is not enabled in your browser or because Windows security is blocking JavaScript.  The Panorama Factory's help file requires JavaScript to be enabled.

If you are seeing one (or both) of  the following security warning messages when trying to use The Panorama Factory's online help, then JavaScript is enabled but Windows security is blocking it:

"To help protect your security, Internet Explorer has restricted this file from showing active content that could access your computer.  Click here for options..."

or

"Allowing active content such as script and ActiveX controls can be useful, but active content might also harm your computer.  Are you sure you want to let this file run active content?"

If you are not seeing either one of these security messages, then JavaScript is disabled in your browser.

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How to correct the problem

If JavaScript is disabled, you should use Solution 1 -- Enable JavaScript in your browser.

If JavaScript is enabled but you are seeing Windows security messages, you should use one of the following solutions:

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Versions affected

The Panorama Factory V3.0 - V3.3

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Background

If you are not seeing the security messages, then JavaScript is disabled in your browser.

If you are seeing the security messages, then JavaScript is enabled.

The security messages are displayed by Windows Service Pack 2.  As a security precaution, Windows XP Service Pack 2 blocks portions of HTML files containing JavaScript, ActiveX or Java components, even though the files are stored locally on your computer.  Active content in local files is blocked by default, even if it is harmless and you are asked to respond to very worrying warning messages.

The risks that Microsoft's security warnings refer to are in reference to components from unknown or untrustworthy sources.

The Panorama Factory's help files were installed on your computer when you installed The Panorama Factory.  They do not pose a security risk.  The JavaScript components in The Panorama Factory's help file are used to synchronize the help contents display with the help page display and also to implement the help search function.

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Solution 1 -- Enable JavaScript in your browser

If you did not see the security messages, then JavaScript is disabled in your browser.  To enable JavaScript, follow these steps:

Internet Explorer 6

  1. Select the Internet options... command from Internet Explorer's Tools menu.
  2. Select the Security tab on the Internet options dialog box.
  3. Select the Internet web content zone indicated by a picture of the world globe.
  4. Press the Custom level... button at the bottom of the page to open the Security Settings dialog box.
  5. Under Scripting select the Enable option for Active scripting.
  6. Close all Internet Explorer windows and then repeat your Help request in The Panorama Factory.

Netscape Navigator 7

  1. Select the Preferences... command from Netscape Navigator's Edit menu.
  2. Click the small triangle beside Advanced at the left side of the Preferences dialog box.
  3. Select Scripts & Plug-ins underneath Advanced.
  4. Select the Navigator checkbox underneath Enable JavaScript for.

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Solution 2 -- Allow blocked content for this session

If you are seeing the security messages, then JavaScript is already enabled in your browser but Windows security is blocking JavaScript.  These security messages are displayed only by Internet Explorer, not by Netscape Navigator.

To enable help, click the yellow bar and select Allow Blocked Content.  Then select Yes in the Security Warning window.

This allows blocked content only for The Panorama Factory's help file and does not affect other Windows security features.

Note: You must repeat these steps each time you use help after closing the help window.  To avoid needing to do this repeatedly, minimize the help window instead of closing it.

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Solution 3 -- Permenently allow blocked content

If you wish, you can permanently enable blocked content in Internet Explorer so that you will no longer see the security messages.  This is not necessary in Netscape Navigator because it does not display the warning messages. 

However, we do not recommend this option because it is not possible to permanently enable blocked content for The Panorama Factory's help without also enabling it for all other web pages.  So you should carefully consider whether to use this solution.

  1. Select the Internet options... command from Internet Explorer's Tools menu.
  2. Under Security, select the checkbox labelled Allow active content to run in files on My Computer.
  3. Repeat your Help request in The Panorama Factory (you do not need to close Internet Explorer after changing this option).

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Solution 4 -- Use a different browser

A more certain way to avoid the Internet Explorer security messages is to use a different browser.  Netscape Navigator is an excellent browser and does not currently impose such draconian security measures.

However, we like Internet Explorer (except for this problem) and The Panorama Factory help works better in some ways with Internet Explorer.  It's also possible that you might sacrifice some functionality and/or security by using other browsers.

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Additional reading

To read Microsoft's explanation of this feature, refer to Description of the Internet Explorer Information Bar in Windows XP SP2.

For an excellent description of the active content problem, and several additional workarounds, read How Windows XP Service Pack 2 affects web pages running locally on your computer at phdcc.com.

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Status

Corrected in V3.4.


Revised: May 04, 2005

 1999-2005 Smoky City Design, LLC and John Strait