What are ActiveX Objects?
ActiveX objects, also known and Microsoft ActiveX Data Objects (ADO), are used by developers to enable software clients to access data from different databases. ActiveX objects allow connections to the database without requiring the developer to fully understand how the database is implemented.
Using ActiveX objects typically involves creating a connection object that connects to the database, receiving the data in a recordset object, opening the connection, using a SQL statement to open the database and populate the recordset, searching for data, updating the data (if necessary), closing the recordset, and closing the connection.
ActiveX Data Objects consists of four collections (fields, properties, parameters, and errors) and twelve objects (connection, command, recordset, immediate, batch, transaction, record, stream, parameter, field, property, and error).
So what does this mean to the average computer user? While developers need an understanding of ActiveX objects, most computer users do not. However, you can get a better sense of ActiveX objects by looking at an application like Excel which uses this technology. The Excel application is made up of a set of ActiveX objects such as menu bars, menus, menu items, toolbars, toolbar buttons, windows, panes, styles, workbooks, worksheets, charts and modules.
Now, each ActiveX object will have its own functions including methods, properties, and events. Using Excel’s worksheet object as an example, one of its methods is the “calculate” function which is used for calculating values in the worksheet. Methods are actions that the ActiveX object can carry out (such as calculate). Other examples of methods include: save, undo, redo, and quit.
Properties display information about an object such as its name, its author, default file path, keywords, or comments.
Events are the actions that the object recognizes like a mouse click. The programmer often programs an action that is triggered when an event takes place. For example, clicking on the print icon will trigger the print dialog box to open.
Microsoft offers its collection of ActiveX Data Objects for free download as part of the Microsoft Data Access Components software development kit found in its MSDN Data Platform Development Center.
ActiveX objects are used by developers to develop rich Windows applications. They are language neutral and are able to retrieve data from an underlying OLE DB provider. Developers like using Active X objects to build applications because they act as pre-programmed building blocks for common functions and are relatively easy to incorporate into applications.
If you are a Windows computer user, you’ve likely seen ActiveX objects in action. The next time you click a button or perform a calculation in a spreadsheet, stop and ask yourself if you just used an ActiveX object. Chances are good that you did.
If you are a developer, or an aspiring developer, ActiveX objects provide you with pre-built modules for building Windows and Web-based applications. Why program a commonly used function from scratch when ActiveX objects are available?