ActiveX is a framework for defining reusable software components in a programming language independent way. Software applications can then be composed from one or more of these components in order to provide their functionality.
It was introduced in 1996 by Microsoft as a development of its Component Object Model (COM) and Object Linking and Embedding (OLE) technologies and is commonly used in its Windows operating system, although the technology itself is not tied to it.
Many Microsoft Windows applications — including many of those from Microsoft itself, such as Internet Explorer, Microsoft Office, Microsoft Visual Studio, and Windows Media Player — use ActiveX controls to build their feature-set and also encapsulate their own functionality as ActiveX controls which can then be embedded into other applications. Internet Explorer also allows embedding ActiveX controls onto web pages.
Active X controls, small program building blocks, can serve to create distributed applications working over the Internet through web browsers. Examples include customized applications for gathering data, viewing certain kinds of files, and displaying animation.
Active X controls are comparable with Java applets: programmers designed both of these mechanisms to allow web browsers to download and execute them. They also differ:
Programmers can write ActiveX controls in any language which supports COM component development, including the following languages/environments:
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