The Media Section contains properties related to the special files that Second Site includes with your site. Which values you choose depends mostly on whether you are publishing your site on the web or distributing it on CD or DVD.

Create GENDEX File

When Create GENDEX File is checked, Second Site creates a file in the same format as that used by GENDEX, an index of names contained on genealogical web sites. Unfortunately, the original GENDEX site has been discontinued, but the feature is compatible with new sites and may be useful for other purposes.

The GENDEX file is written to the Output (-o) folder as "GENDEX.txt". Copy this file to your web site host when you copy the other files there. If a GENDEX site becomes available, follow the rules found there for submitting your GENDEX index.

If you decide to submit your data to a GENDEX index, I recommend checking the Page Sizes.Static Page Assignments checkbox. With Static Page Assignments, the index you submit will still work properly even after you update your site as long as you don't modify the Page Sizes.People per Page property.

Use Shared Libraries

The Use Shared Libraries checkbox determines whether the generated site will use shared JavaScript libraries in place of libraries stored in the Output (-o) folder.

If Use Shared Libraries is checked, the generated site will use JavaScript libraries that are stored on a high-speed, high-availability content distribution network provided by Google for frequently used JavaScript libraries such as the jQuery library used by Second Site. Using shared libraries will reduce the load on the server where you host your site and will help your pages load as quickly as possible.

If Add CD Autorun Files is checked, the Use Shared Libraries checkbox is ignored and Second Site will not use the shared libraries: it's not wise to use shared libraries when distributing your site via CD.

If you do not have an active Internet connection when browsing a local copy of your site on your own PC, you should uncheck the Use Shared Libraries checkbox. However, when you build a version of the site that you intend to upload to a web hosting service, Use Shared Libraries should be checked.

Making a site that will be uploaded to a web server Checked
Making a site that will be distributed via CD Unchecked
Making a site for use on your PC and you have an active Internet connection Checked
Making a site for use on your PC and you do not have an active Internet connection Unchecked

Add CD Autorun Files

This section describes the Add CD Autorun Files property. For a description of the basic steps involved in making a CD, see the Making a CD page.

Make sure that Add CD Autorun Files is unchecked if you are not creating a CD or DVD.

As of version 3.2.0, Add CD Autorun Files changes the organization of the Output (-o) folder compared to previous versions.

When Add CD Autorun Files is checked, Second Site moves the contents of the site from the Output (-o) folder to a subfolder named site and a set of files associated with the autorun feature to the top level of the Output folder. If the contents of the Output folder are subsequently copied to the root folder on a CD, the main page of the generated site will be displayed automatically when the CD is inserted into a CD-ROM drive on a PC that supports the MS Windows Autorun feature.

Add CD Autorun Files
not checked
  • mysite-o
    • index.htm
    • p1.htm
    • ...
Add CD Autorun Files
is checked
  • mysite-o
    • autorun.exe
    • autorun.inf
    • index.htm
    • site
      • index.htm
      • p1.htm
      • ...

The Autorun files are determined by the contents of the Autorun folder under the Second Site program folder. By default, the path is c:\Program Files\Second Site 3\Autorun. You can use the User Data Folder mechanism to replace the Autorun files but that should not be necessary for most users.

The two key files are autorun.inf and autorun.exe. Whenever a CD is inserted into a CD-ROM drive, Windows looks for an autorun.inf file in the root folder. If the file exists, Windows reads the file and follows the directions therein. The directions may include commands to start a program. Second Site uses that capability to start the autorun.exe program. Autorun.exe is very simple; it asks the operating system to open the index.htm document, which is the main page of the generated site. The operating system will start whichever web browser is configured to open HTM files.


The Second Site Autorun option supports PCs only. It is possible to create CDs that may be used with Macintosh or Linux computers, but the Second Site Autorun facility will not open the main page when the CD is inserted into a CD drive on either of those types of computers.

The Autorun facility is considered a security risk and it is disabled in recent versions of Microsoft Windows such as Windows Vista and Windows 7.

The autorun files included with Second Site will only work when the site files are copied to the root folder of the CD. That includes the HTML pages and the autorun files. It is possible to create an autorun setup that will open a file in a subfolder, but that is not directly supported by Second Site nor described here.

One possible option for a CD project is to make a site for each major branch in your family, and place each of those subsites on the CD. If the root folder of the CD contains an index.htm file, then the autorun files supplied with Second Site can be used to open that page. That index.htm file could contain links to the main page in each of the subsites.

Troubleshooting Autorun CDs

Here's what is supposed to happen when a CD made with Second Site is inserted into a PC with the Autorun feature enabled:

  1. The Windows Autorun facility looks for a file named autorun.inf. If that file is found, Windows executes the commands therein.
  2. Second Site's autorun.inf file includes the command

    open=autorun.exe index.htm

    That command tells Windows to execute the "autorun.exe" program and pass it the parameter "index.htm".

  3. The autorun.exe program executes and asks Windows to open the index.htm file.
  4. Windows opens the index.htm file using the program associated with ".htm" files, which is typically a browser such as Microsoft Internet Explorer or Netscape.
  5. The "index.htm" file that is in the root folder of the CD redirects the browser to the "index.htm" file in the site folder.

Five factors determine whether or not that process works properly.

  1. The proper files must be copied to the root directory of the CD.
  2. The CD should be "finalized."
  3. The target PC must be configured to enable Autorun.
  4. The target PC must have ".htm" files associated with a working browser program.
  5. The autorun.exe program must work properly on the target PC.

If an Autorun CD does not work properly on a target PC, follow the steps below to determine the cause. In the instructions below, the notation <drive> replaces the actual drive letter of the CD-ROM drive on your PC.

Verify that the proper files were copied to the root folder of the CD.
All the files and subfolders in the "-o" folder should be copied to the root folder of the CD. The following files are essential to the Autorun feature:


Use Windows Explorer to verify that those files exist at the exact location shown in the list above.

The CD must be finalized.
Finalizing (or closing) a CD is usually the last step in creating a data CD. Regardless of what it is called, the process prepares a CD to be read by standard CD-ROM drives. See your CD writer documentation for more information.
The target PC must be configured to enable Autorun.
Autorun can be enabled or disabled by changing the system registry, and some install programs are known to disable it. The easiest way to verify that the Autorun facility is enabled and operational is to test using the install CD for a product which is known to have an autorun.inf file which starts the install process. Most products from Microsoft, including Microsoft Office, use the autorun facility. If you insert such a CD, and the install program or welcome screen appears, then Autorun is operational. If no install program appears, then Autorun is probably disabled.

If Autorun is disabled, the system registry must be changed to enable it. Unfortunately, that is not as simple as it sounds. Please see the list of Microsoft Knowledge Base articles at the bottom of the page.

Many people use a third-party "tweak" program to manage registry settings that are not exposed by control panels or other elements of the standard Windows user interface. I use and recommend X-Setup from Xteq Systems. Tweak programs are useful tools, but they are intended for experienced PC users and they should be used with caution.

The target PC must have ".htm" files associated with a working browser program.
The autorun.exe program relies on Windows to know which program should be used to open the "index.htm" file. To verify that a working browser is associated with ".htm" files, double-click on the "index.htm" file that is in the root directory of the CD:


The "index.htm" file should open in the default browser.

The autorun.exe program must work properly on the target PC.
Autorun.exe is a simple program, but variations in operating systems and other factors could make it fail. To verify that the autorun.exe program is working properly, we can execute it manually to see if it produces the desired result.

Choose Run... from the Start menu and type "command" (without the quotes) into the "Open:" textbox:

Then press ENTER or click [OK]. A command window will open. Type the drive letter of your CD drive followed by a colon and then press ENTER. Then type "autorun.exe index.htm" and press ENTER.

If autorun.exe is working properly, and if the index.htm file is in the proper place, Windows should open index.htm in the default browser. If not, the autorun.exe program is not working properly. If an error message appears, copy it and e-mail it to me for help!

Microsoft Articles

Here are links to Microsoft Knowledge Base articles pertinent to this topic:

Windows XP:

  • 330135 The AutoRun or AutoPlay Feature Does Not Work
  • 314855 CD-ROM May Not Run Automatically in Windows XP

Windows NT, Windows 2000:

  • 173584 CD-ROM May Not Run Automatically in Windows
  • 155217 How to Enable or Disable the CD-ROM Autorun Feature
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