Distributing Electronic Greeting Cards

When Electronic Greeting Card Construction Set was first developed, back in the late middle ages, the world was a friendlier and more innocent place – there were a lot fewer cybercretins writing phishing programs, viruses, trojans and other species of malware. Users of Electronic Greeting Card Construction Set could safely e-mail cards to their recipients.

One of the cool things about Electronic Greeting Card Construction Set is that its documents are Windows executables – they can be distributed without having to worry about the systems they’re being distributed to having the correct software installed to open them. They are the correct software.

Of course, viruses and other digital nasties hide in executables, and for this reason, most contemporary e-mail applications get highly agitated when they spot one attached to a message. By default, the Microsoft Outlook application deletes executable attachments.

You can configure Outlook to disable this behavior, although in practice doing so to enable the receipt of Electronic Greeting Card Construction Set documents is a bit lame. You’d need to notify whomever you intend to surprise with an electronic card that you intend to surprise them.

There are a number of ways around this issue. You can, for example, store your cards in ZIP files, and have whomever receives them unZIP them and run them. Admittedly, it’s not quite as cool, and it requires that everyone you intend to send cards to have WinZip or something comparable installed on their systems.

Our favorite solution to this problem is to store your electronic greeting cards on a server, and e-mail your friends links to the cards, rather than the cards themselves. This will get around the security problems inherent in most e-mail reader software, and it will vastly reduce the amount of data you’ll need to mail. The recipients of your cards, noting that your e-mail looks familiar, won’t have to stress themselves into an alternate universe worrying about whether your attachments are safe to click on.

Just upload your Electronic Greeting Card Construction Set documents as you would a web page HTML file, and create a link to it. While it’s theoretically possible for someone other than your intended recipients to download such a file, no one else should know of its existence, or have any way of discovering its name.

None the less, it’s probably a good idea not to include any really weird, embarrassing or potentially litigious content in electronic greeting cards you distribute this way.

As a final note, if someone clicks on a link to your electronic greeting card from within an e-mail message, their web browser will open to download the card. Web browsers are also inherently suspicious of executable files – Internet Explorer, the default web browser installed with Windows, will display a somewhat ill-chosen message about potential viruses when one is downloaded. If you read this message carefully, you’ll note that it actually says that any executable file can contain a virus, not that the one about to be downloaded actually does.

Few people do so.

You can shut down some of this twitchiness and paranoia by digitally signing your electronic greeting cards before you upload them for distribution. Alchemy Mindworks’ downloadable software installers, which are also Windows executables, are digitally signed for the same reason. When Explorer downloads a digitally signed executable, it will display a much more reassuring message.

There’s a complete discussion of digital signing in the Electronic Greeting Card Construction Set Manual’s Reference document – click on the ? button in the application’s tool bar.

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