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What Is a Component Object Model?

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  • Written By: Troy Holmes
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 04 December 2014
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Computer frameworks are reusable templates that improve the reliability and productivity of software programming. The component object model (COM) is a computer framework that integrates components with Microsoft® programming languages. This framework was first introduced in the early 1990s for visual basic software but is widely used in most Microsoft® programming languages today.

Modular design is an architecture approach that is based on building small, simple software components. Each module is built for a specific purpose and can run independently from the application. A good example of this technique in practice is a printer attached to a computer that uses a printer driver for communication.

The component object model provides an elegant way to implement modular design into a software program. Each component within the COM framework is an independent service that can be used by non-related software programs. This allows programmers to reuse COM objects.

A Microsoft Word® document with an imbedded spreadsheet is another example of the component object model in practice. Anytime the spreadsheet updates, the Word® document is automatically updated with the changes. This model makes it possible for multiple documents to share the same spreadsheet and receive updates anytime the spreadsheet is changed.

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The component object model belongs to a family of technologies used by Microsoft®. These technologies include Active X®, disturbed component object model (DCOM), and COM. Using this type of architecture makes it easy to transfer components onto other applications.

Microsoft® project is a powerful project management tool that gives managers the ability to track individual tasks needed to complete a project. This tool uses imbedded components, including calendars and task manager, that are also used in other Microsoft Office® products. These embedded components make it easy to learn new Microsoft® tools because the applications are similar in behavior, look, and feel.

Using this model adds flexibility to a software program. This is accomplished by creating a standards-based module that provides plug-and-play usage. A COM object is program agnostic, which makes it easier to use across multiple programming languages. A well-developed COM object can be added to any Windows® platform and works seamlessly.

Object oriented programming (OOP) is a software-coding system that allows programmers to create applications that are more flexible. The component object model is a Microsoft® implementation of OOP, which allows developers to reuse COM components without knowing their underlying software language of the COM object. These components are interchangeable with any Microsoft® programming language, which makes them reusable.

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