Showing external PDFs and HTML Pages in Web Objects

Aug 04, 2016

I am looking to show external web content in SL’s Web Objects. For example, showing a PDF or some HTML page into which I’ve included embed code for video (typically Vimeo videos). I’ve done these things with good success on a previous project, which was great because I’m generally opposed to using SL’s import features which embed PDFs and videos. Doing the simple SL embed approach puts files into the “story_content” subfolder, and that makes updating such files really cumbersome (you have to delete the Web Object and re-create it and re-import it). That approach also bloats the *.story file with assets that I think should be external (at least, in my more traditional web developer mind).

Web Objects have been handy when pointing to absolute URLs (I know they cannot point to relative URLs), which is what I have done before. However, that was when I had full access to the client’s web server, and was able to put my PDF and HTML files into a directory of my choosing, and then the SL file (launched from their own LMS) had no problem showing that content in the various instances of Web Objects.

On an upcoming project, I’m working with a new client and their new 3rd party LMS, and am fairly certain the client’s IT department won’t allow me to have file access to their web server for purposes of uploading/revising/hosting PDF and HTML content. I’m wondering if others have found themselves in this kind of situation, and what they may have done to find hosting solutions for the external content. I’m thinking that not everybody goes along with the “just embed it into SL”, and has ventured out into the “host some content in external files” territory…

Thanks for any thoughts or ideas. I’m pretty sure the answer is “ya just need to put your content on some web server”, but I’m just afraid the end-client is going to be locked-down on allowing that.

3 Replies
Scott L

Thanks for the idea, Brian! I recall playing with file:/// in the past (on non-SL web projects for CD delivery). Here's what I've tried, and if I've misunderstood, maybe you can clarify.

I'm a fan of designing a custom UI to provide access to "Resources-like" content, so I tend to not use the default Resources tab of the stock player.

But I thought I'd try it out anyways, to just see if Resources could somehow link to a relative HTML file. In the "URL:" input field, I played with entering the file:/// protocol before the path to an HTML file, and found that SL forces a prepended http:/// protocol, resulting in "http://file:///". Then, when viewing the published project, the result is a browser window trying to show the file, but not quite doing it - the file:/// protocol had its colon stripped out. I'm sure this is SL enforcing its own sense of security, which is understandable.

On the other hand, trying to get to a relative file using file:/// in a Web Object, any attempt results in the dialog box, "Please enter a valid web address."

I'm not sure there's a way to trick SL into linking to relative files, aside form browsing to them and SL actually importing them (into the "story_content" subfolder) to create its own internal, relative linking. Overall, this, too, makes sense as it helps ensure authors can publish a nicely packaged SCORM deliverable... and what I'm trying for is certainly outside the bounds of that.

Any other thoughts? Or any experiences of people hosting external content on a web server (public, no passwords) so that a SL file would link tot hat in a Web Object...all the while working with a client's 3rd party LMS? Geez, I have such lofty goals ;-)


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