What Is an ActiveX® Component?

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  • Written By: Jean Marie Asta
  • Edited By: Jessica Seminara
  • Last Modified Date: 16 October 2019
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An ActiveX® component refers to the software module that is based on an architecture model made of component objects. It is the framework that consists of software components that are reusable and enables content that is interactive over the Internet. Prior to the ActiveX® component, web content remained limited to 2D graphics and text, making websites a very static environment. Implementation of ActiveX® components made websites more dynamic, offering interactive objects, multimedia effects and applications that emphasized the experience of the user. This framework ties all the parts of a website together to create active environments, which can be beneficial in user experience and for the website designer.

This kind of component is able to work across multiple platforms, as well as different operating systems. One of the benefits of using ActiveX® is that it employs programming language from familiar tools, such as Java, tools that enable Java and C++. It also uses standardized elements in the computer industry, such as HTML and COM. The majority of the inventory of the ActiveX® component is readily available to download and install from the Internet to use for a website. Component controls include technologies for both the server and the client.


Controls in ActiveX® are commonly referred to as OLE objects, or COM objects, and support certain interfaces while being self-registering. Some interfaces allow the discovery of a control's functionality to the fullest extent, allowing a user and designer to get the most out of their controls. The controls of the ActiveX® component do not require anything else other than self-registration and the interface it is using. A choice of a certain interface is dependent on what the designer wants the control to do and what might occur in the span of the control’s lifetime.

An ActiveX® component control can be created using C++, which is a general, free form, all purpose computer programming language. There are many different programs and languages in which an ActiveX® control can be written and created, but the benefit of using C++ is that there is no predetermined string manipulation or reference counting. C++ allows strings of the controls to be manipulated as the designer desires so he can customize the controls as he pleases. Tools for developing environments and controls in C++ are readily available over the Internet to be downloaded and installed. There are also many tutorials that show one how to create specific controls and tools that have already been used and tested, as well as tutorials on how to create a unique control.


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