Self-Extracting (SFX) publications were originally introduced with previous versions of HTML Executable. They are called “Self-Extracting” because they extract the publication files to a temporary folder and then launch the default Web browser to let end users browse the unpacked HTML pages. They are useful because they are compact and do not require any runtime (not like HTML Viewer or IE-based publications). You can also use all HTML features you want, as this is the user's default Web browser that is responsible for the display and navigation through the HTML pages of your website.
Self-Extracting publications can work with portable editions of web browsers such as Portable Firefox or Portable Chrome.
Self-Extracting publications either use the default web browser registered with HTML files in order to display HTML pages or the associated portable web browser. Any web browser (such as Microsoft Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome Opera…) works as long as it is configured to open HTML pages (when you double-click on them in Windows Explorer for example).
When an end user runs your publication, the latter first creates a local copy of your website temporarily and then runs the web browser. The end user can view your website, navigate through HTML pages, etc… When he/she closes his/her browser, the publication will finally remove all temporary files it previously unpacked and close.
Self-Extracting publications are the smallest ones: less than 500kb of data is added to the compressed files in order to make a compiled publication. In return, they require a web browser in order to work correctly. Nowadays, almost all computers have a web browser, but when a web browser is not found, the SFX publication will show an error message and exit.
They are useful if you want to create website archives, for instance.