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The Preview Problem and How I Solved It

Thread began 9/17/2009 8:17 pm by ironmask308789 | Last modified 9/21/2009 3:30 pm by Jimmy Wu | 2864 views | 6 replies |

ironmask308789

The Preview Problem and How I Solved It

Hi there,

I've added to a couple of previous posts that were complaining about the preview function not working in CSS Sculptor. In my case, I'm on Vista Ultimate 32-bit and using CSS Sculptor 2 and Dreamweaver CS4. I don't remember when this behavior started, but it sure became serious for me when I determined that I needed the preview function in CSS Sculptor 2 to be working in order to start on a new project for a new client. When I tried it a couple weeks ago, it refused to cooperate. I would open the New CSS Sculptor Page dialog, choose a preset, and the preview would refuse to show itself. If I clicked a second time, it froze up, and I was forced to close the windows and take down Dreamweaver with it. Very frustrating.

Okay, so I complained a bit (at Ray Borduin's expense, and I apologize here for that), offered a bit of detail information in the forums, and WebAssist Support was good enough to suggest creating a support ticket and investigating further with me. Specifically, Jason Byrnes and Ray Bourdoin tried to help me out. Ray called me and took a look at the problem with me, and helped me to exclude a few possibilities, such as any need to reinstall Dreamweaver.

What did I try? Well, first, before talking with Ray, I tried everything I could find in the forums. I deleted the cache file, I deleted the Dreamweaver configuration folder, and I made sure I was running Dreamweaver as an administrator. No luck. Preview refused to work.

Next, I decided maybe my registry was somehow confused, so I bravely went and tried CCleaner for the first time, and let it do its thing. To it's credit, CCleaner did not break anything, and in fact, my system is a little bit snappier now. However, Preview continued to be be stubborn and not work.

Then I talked with Ray, and thanks to him, I didn't waste any time with Dreamweaver.
I did uninstall and re-install Internet Explorer at his suggestion, but even that had no effect.

So I asked myself: what else could it be? First thought was my security software, namely, Comodo Internet Security (both firewall and anti-virus). I had already tried "exiting" it without any positive effect, but the truth is, you can't really exit it without uninstalling it. Comodo processes continue to run in the background.

So I uninstalled it today. Lo and behold, CSS Sculptor's preview worked. I'm not sure what version I was at when I uninstalled, but heck, now preview was working. So, I thought, I'll reinstall and see if maybe I had inadvertently clicked "Block" at sometime in the past instead of "Allow". I reinstalled what I already had on my computer, namely "CIS_Setup_3.8.64739.471_XP_Vista_x32.exe", and preview continued to work. Obviously, I had cleared out whatever the problem was, right?

Well, there's a little more to the story. I found out that this version of CIS doesn't update properly, and on their forum, I read that I needed to uninstall this version and reinstall the latest. So I did. And guess what? When I ran the newly downloaded "CIS_Setup_3.11.108364.552_XP_Vista_x32.exe" file, CSS Sculptor's preview was broken. It was broken before I even restarted the computer to finish the CIS install, and it was broken after I was queried by CIS's Defense+ Alert dialog, where it said

"HTML2Image.exe could not be recognized and it is about to access the protected COM interface Shell.Explorer.2. If HTML2Image.exe is one of your everyday applications, you can allow this request."

Well, I did allow it, and it STILL was broken. I even repeated all of this, and when asked a second time, I made sure Comodo knew to treat it as a "Trusted Application". Still broken.

I'm sorry to say this, but the latest version of Comodo Internet Security is somehow preventing the preview function in CSS Sculptor from working AT ALL. I believe that this is probably true for CSS Menu Writer and Site Assist Pro as well, but I have not tested them since last week.

So for now, I have reverted back to version 3.8 of Comodo Internet Security. And CSS Sculptor 2's preview function works perfectly.

BOTTOM LINE:

1) IMHO, it's Comodo Internet Security's recently introduced "mystery" change, NOT a bug in CSS Sculptor. Something got changed on the way from CIS v3.8 to v3.11, and it caused this issue. I will begin to work with those folks at CIS a bit to see what might be behind this obvious incompatibility and what might be done to solve it. I like Comodo, and would like to stick with their software, especially since it has up-to-now worked well and is free.

2) Now that I know that it is a problem with Comodo, not WebAssist, I am very likely to upgrade to CSS Sculptor 3!

3) I also want to express my appreciation for the patience and professionalism of the WebAssist folks who helped me, i.e., Ray, Jason, and Jimmy.

Finally, I hope that other people who have experienced this really vexing "preview" problem will find my experience helpful.

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Jimmy Wu

I'm glad that you were able to resolve the issue with the preview engine. Hopefully posting this will help other users debug some issues that they have run into with the preview engine.

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anonymous

ironmask,

That is great sleuth work! I wonder if Comodo is aware that their tools aren't playing nicely or correctly with others.

Cheers,

Brian

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ironmask308789

Narrowing It Down A Little Bit More

First, @Brian -- thanks, bud. I appreciate your kind words.

Second, I've done a little more testing with Comodo Internet Security (CIS).

In version 3.11.108364.552_XP_Vista_x32, no adjustments or disabling of any kind that I tried within Comodo and within its Defense+ mechanism (including using the option to permanently disable Defense+ and restarting) made any difference. With this version, on my machine, Comodo Internet Security simply breaks CSS Sculptor's preview functionality. I suspect that in some way CIS is hardwired to be too aggressive.

I found the setup file for version 3.9.76924.507_XP_Vista_x32 online, and installed that. Hmm, preview worked with that version installed. However, when I let it update itself, then preview broke.

So this narrows the problem down to a "mystery" change that took place in CIS somewhere between version 3.9.76924.507_XP_Vista_x32 and version 3.11.108364.552_XP_Vista_x32.

I was hoping that the problem was somehow core to whatever version of CIS was originally installed and that updates would not break Sculptor, but I should have known better, as that was exactly what my history was (albeit when I wasn't paying so close attention).

At the moment, I've switched to AVG 8.5 Free for anti-virus and plain ol' Windows Firewall. CSS Sculptor works fine with those two in place. I may try another free firewall out there to get a little better protection, maybe the ZoneAlarm or some such. I haven't tried installing Comodo Firewall as a standalone from the CIS installer, so maybe I'll check that out and have a little more info to share here later this weekend.

I believe that that is all the news that's fit to print!

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ironmask308789

Even Narrower

I gave the latest version of Comodo Internet Security one more try. I used the same, latest, greatest CIS_Setup_3.11.108364.552_XP_Vista_x32.exe, but this time, I installed ONLY Comodo Firewall in its most minimal configuration ("Firewall Only", as opposed to "Firewall with Optimum Proactive Defense" and "Firewall with Maximum Proactive Defense+"). Preview continued to work in CSS Sculptor after installation -- right up until I checked for updates to Comodo Firewall and downloaded/installed them. As a result, I now believe that something in the updates is turning on a piece of their Defense+ kernel and thereby breaking CSS Sculptor's preview function.

If you take the same setup and choose a different option, e.g., install Anti-Virus and Firewall, you break the CSS Sculptor preview right from the start. If you install ONLY the firewall, but in anything other than the "Firewall Only" option, you still break the preview. In each of these cases, the Defense+ kernel is being installed. Only in the scenario I described above (i.e., "Firewall Only") is the Defense+ kernel NOT being laid down during install. However, it apparently is if you update anything.

So for now, and for me, it's definitely AVG 8.5 Free and Windows Firewall. If I have time to find out if ZoneAlarm Free Firewall is any friendlier to CSS Sculptor, I will post that info here. Other suggestions for a good free firewall are obviously welcome!

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ironmask308789

Zone Alarm Free Firewall

Just a quick postscript note to say that, as one would expect, there were no problems with Sculptor's preview functionality encountered after installing Zone Alarm Free Firewall. It really is just something in Comodo's current "Defense+" component that seems to be the culprit (as of 9/20/2009). Hopefully, Comodo will find and fix whatever is causing their security suite to not play nice.

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Jimmy Wu

That's great to hear. Thanks for investigating this issue so thoroughly and posting up your updates for other users to be able to gain from your experiences.

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