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Why didn't ActiveX Documents go anywhere?

Did anyone use ActiveX Document in VB6?  I always wondered why MS didn't push this technology and make it go somewhere. I thought they might be a viable tool for enterprise apps.

For those who've never seen them, they were like a stateless VB app that ran within your browser.  You could use VB controls and language, and they appeared very powerful (for a browser app, that is).

But, I've heard it said that they were a solution looking for a problem.  What were the drawbacks to them - anyone know?

Friday, May 9, 2003

You mean, besides being limited to IE on Windows for people who don't have ActiveX disabled (either locally or by their firewall)? :-p

Brad Wilson (
Friday, May 9, 2003

[nod] They required IE when Netscape was still the dominant browser, and they introduced a HUGE security hole (no sandbox)


Friday, May 9, 2003

What the previous two posters said plus the fact that by the time Microsoft added some very dubious Internet programming capabilities to VB (i.e. ActiveX Documents, DHTML projects, Webclasses) -- script development (Active Server Pages written primarily in VBScript or JavaScript) was considered the defacto Microsoft way to build a web application.

Philo wrote, "...and they introduced a HUGE security hole (no sandbox)"

True, but I still run across quite a few business websites (i.e. Yahoo! Finance) that still use ActiveX controls.

One Programmer's Opinion
Friday, May 9, 2003

Activex Controls are different from Activex Documents.  Controls are used all over the place (Flash, Director, etc.) where-as Documents arent' seen too often unless you count the ones like Word, Excel, etc.

It's too bad they didn't have a container for Activex Docs that could be used in VB, it would have been an easy way to implement dynamic screens.  Of course you can drop an IE Control onto a VB Form and load a Document into it but it's a little heavy on the resource usage.

Friday, May 9, 2003

I was going to wonder how a firewall could block an activex document? All HTML pages are displayed as ActiveX documents when using IE. Acrobat files are too by default when you're in IE. Word docs too, though lots of people don't like that.
The actual interface is a bit of a pain if I remember right.

Friday, May 9, 2003

By 'enterprise apps' I meant Intranet apps.

Since a lot of companies require employees to use IE I don't see the browser incompatibilities as that big of an issue.  Also, local security settings for Active X can be set by automatic configuration scripts.

Friday, May 9, 2003

As was pointed out, Active Documents are quite different from ActiveX controls, which are extremely popular and useful.

The reason Active Documents went nowhere is they didn't fill a need that couldn't be filled more readily using other methods. WebClasses in VB suffered from the same problem.

Friday, May 9, 2003

"but I still run across quite a few business websites (i.e. Yahoo! Finance) that still use ActiveX controls"

They're probably just trying to stuff some Flash advert down your throat.

Tuesday, May 13, 2003

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