What is Active Scripting?

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  • Written By: Page Coleman
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 08 October 2019
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Active Scripting is a Microsoft Windows operating system version of a scripting language that is component-based. It is based on OLE Automation, which is a mechanism that allows applications to interact with other applications, often by passing data between them. The scripts have been used in Web pages and software programs.

A script is an interpreted language. An application written in a scripting language is not compiled, and it is translated as it is run. In turn, it will not run as fast as a compiled application, but it can be easier to develop. As such, scripts are more popular for lightweight applications, such as web pages.

Active Scripting, which has also been known as ActiveX scripting, was commonly used in the Microsoft Web application technology known as Active Server Pages (ASP). Microsoft supported the technology in the Internet Explorer 3 (IE3) browser in 1996 and in its Internet Information Services (IIS) Web server platform, also in 1996. In Microsoft technology, it has been used in automating Microsoft Office applications, such as Excel, where it was known as Visual Basic for Applications (VBA). Active Scripting is no longer being updated; it has been superseded by .NET programming platforms.


Scripts can be used for functions such as changing menu appearance based on user actions, validating form entry, and calculations. When scripts run on the client side, such as on a browser, they may prevent a trip to the server, thus improving the user experience because the response to user actions can be faster. For example, when a form entry is validated on a Web page, the user will be notified immediately that he missed entering a required field, for example. If the validation happened on the server, the Web page would send the incomplete information, a program on the server would validate the entry, discover that information was missing, and then send a response to the browser.

Javascript is another popular scripting language that is also often used on Web pages. It may be confused with a popular Web programming language known as Java. Though both are based on the C programming language, they are two different languages. The Javascript language is interpreted and Java is usually compiled.

Scripting languages may raise security concerns. The code is readable by humans, therefore savvy Web users may view it and find information that should be kept secure. An example is a situation where the script references a Web application’s database. This information may allow malicious users to gain entrance to this resource.

Scripts may also be used maliciously to steal user information, such as a user’s login name and password to a banking website. To combat this, browser developers have added “sandbox” functionality which limits what the script is allowed to do. Another security concept, “website of origin,” disallows information used on one site to be used on another site. In spite of these security efforts, many users choose to disable Active Scripting or Javascript in their browsers.


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