Creating Start Menu shortcuts with Javascript

While preparing the installer for the Web 2.0 Starter Toolkit for IBM DB2, I had to set up Start Menu shortcuts. The way to do that is to work through the Windows Scripting Host (WSH).

The WSH supports two built-in languages – VBScript and Jscript – and a theoretical number of third-party alternatives. VBScript is the better documented of the two in terms of examples, but I find its syntax ugly and constrained. Fortunately, Jscript can do anything VBScript can.

So here’s how we can create Start Menu shortcuts with Javascript.

Locate the Start Menu Programs folder

Most interesting Windows folders can be found by working with special folders

var shell = new ActiveXObject("WScript.Shell");
var startmenu = shell.SpecialFolders("Programs");

The shell object will be reused in code below, but you can redeclare it every time if you like.

Create a Folder

Scripting Guy has more details

var folder = "My App";
var group = startmenu + "\" + name;

var fso = new ActiveXObject("Scripting.FileSystemObject");
if (!fso.FolderExists(folder)) fso.CreateFolder(folder);

startmenu is defined above.

Create an LNK Shortcut

The very hidden file extension of standard Windows shortcuts is LNK. This distinguishes them from website shortcuts, which have the equally hidden extension of URL.

If you are interested in something closer to the symbolic links of Unix, the NTFS equivalent is called junctions. You may find Junction Link Magic of interest.

var name = "My Shortcut";
var file = "myfile.txt";
var path = "C:\Program Files";

var shortcut = shell.CreateShortcut(group + "\" + name + ".lnk");
shortcut.TargetPath = path + "\" + file;
shortcut.WorkingDirectory = path;

See the full list of properties. I recommend always setting the working directory for application links. If you don’t, your program won’t be able to load resources from it’s installation folder.

shell and group are defined above.

Create a URL Shortcut

This is very similar. The main difference is that you set the extension to URL.

var name2 = "My Other Shortcut";
var address = "";

var shortcut = shell.CreateShortcut(group + "\" + name2 +".url");
shortcut.TargetPath = address;

See the full list of properties.

shell and group are defined above.

Locate Program Files

When creating shortcuts, it is often useful to know where a user’s Program Files directory is located. It is called different things in different versions of Windows, and some advanced users like to move it or rename it.

var REG_PF = "HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\ProgramFilesDir";

var progFiles = null;
var process = shell.Environment("PROCESS");
if (process)
	progFiles = process("ProgramFiles");
if (!progFiles)
	progFiles = shell.RegRead(REG_PF);

shell is defined in the first code excerpt.

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