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What is ActiveX?
ActiveX is a set of technologies from Microsoft that enables interactive content
for the World Wide Web. Before ActiveX, Web content was static, 2-dimensional
text and graphics. With ActiveX, Web sites come alive using multimedia effects,
interactive objects, and sophisticated applications that create a user experience
comparable to that of high-quality CD-ROM titles. ActiveX provides the glue
that ties together a wide assortment of technology building blocks to enable
these "active" Web sites.
What Are Its Primary Benefits?
What Are Its Elements?
- Active Web Content with Impact that will attract and retain users.
- Open, Cross-Platform Support on Macintosh®, Windows® and UNIX® operating
- Familiar Tools from a wide assortment of tools and programming language
vendors, including Visual Basic®, Visual C++®, Borland® Delphi®, Borland C++,
Java, and Java-enabled tools. Developers can use what they know and be productive
- Existing Inventory of ActiveX controls available today for immediate use
by Web producers.
- Industry Standards, with built-in support for key industry and de-facto
marketplace standards, including HTML, TCP/IP, Java, COM, and others.
ActiveX includes both client and server technologies.
What Can It Do?
- ActiveX Controls are the interactive objects in a Web page that provide
interactive and user-controllable functions and hence enliven the experience
of a Web site.
- ActiveX Documents enable users to view non-HTML documents, such as Microsoft
Excel or Word files, through a Web browser.
- Active Scripting controls the integrated behavior of several ActiveX controls
and/or Java Applets from the browser or server.
- Java™ Virtual Machine is the code that enables any ActiveX-supported browser
such as Internet Explorer 3.0 to run Java applets and to integrate Java applets
with ActiveX controls.
- ActiveX Server Framework provides a number of Web server-based functions
such as security, database access, and others.
ActiveX brings innovation and interactivity to the Web. Because it is supported
by many different languages and tools, it enables developers with varied backgrounds
and expertise to bring their creativity to the Web. Based on a refinement of
the existing COM standard already known by thousands of developers, it can leverage
the knowledge and work of the development community without a steep learning
curve. And because it is a third-generation technology with extensive third-party
support, it provides the richest development platform for both Internet and
intranet Client/Server applications available today. ActiveX takes the most
creative and innovative software development efforts and enables them to work
together seamlessly in a Web site. With thousands of these software components
already existing, an exciting collection of interactive objects is available
for immediate use by Web producers.
Why Is It Important?
ActiveX makes it fast and easy for developers and Web producers to create unique,
interactive Web sites that will make the Internet fundamentally more useful
and productive. Web producers don't have to start from scratch and build all
the parts of their interactive Web site by hand, because there are already more
than 1,000 reusable controls available in the market. And because ActiveX can
be used with a wide variety of programming languages from dozens of vendors,
developers and Webmasters can make use of their current expertise to more quickly
create compelling content. They can also accommodate a wide range of users,
as ActiveX will be supported on multiple operating system platforms.
How Does It Compare with Java?
ActiveX provides a standard mechanism to extend any programming language, including
Java. ActiveX extends the capabilities of the Java language by allowing Java
developers to integrate their applets with the richness of ActiveX. ActiveX
ties Java applets together with objects created in other languages, so that
Java programmers can link to ActiveX controls directly from their Java programs.
By the same token, objects written in other programming languages from multiple
vendors can link to Java applets. ActiveX is the glue that ties them all together,
delivering the most powerful Web technologies in an open, integrated platform.
By providing a common way to extend and link programming languages including
Java, ActiveX maximizes developers' resources for interactive Web development.
See ActiveX and Java for more information on extending Java with ActiveX.
Who Supports It?
Small, medium and large software companies currently create ActiveX controls,
including companies such as Borland, Oracle and Sybase/Powersoft. As a result
of their work, there are more than 1,000 existing ActiveX controls available
for use today by Web producers. In addition, 14 companies who create Web design
and development tools have built ActiveX support into their products, allowing
their customers to both create and make use of ActiveX controls in their programs.
Microsoft's Internet Explorer supports ActiveX, and Microsoft provides the ActiveX
plug-in for Netscape® Navigator®, enabling the broadest range of Internet users
to view ActiveX-enabled Web pages.
Where Does It Run?
ActiveX is currently supported on the Windows operating system. Microsoft is
working with Metrowerks to support ActiveX on the Macintosh platform, and is
also working with Bristol and Mainsoft to support it on UNIX platforms. Developers
who write ActiveX controls and other ActiveX objects will be able to reach the
widest possible user audience with this cross-platform solution.
*Microsoft, MS, ActiveX, VB, Visual Basic, Visual C++, Windows, the Microsoft
Internet Explorer Logo, and the Microsoft Windows logo are either registered
trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or
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