January 27, 2021
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ActiveX Control Tutorial - Part 1

  • By Karl Moore
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What's the difference between a horse trainer and a tailor? One tends a mare and one mends a tear!

And now for another belly-chuckler - what's the difference between an ActiveX component and an ActiveX control?

OK, not quite a dinner party puzzler but still an important point. Let's take a look at what exactly an ActiveX component is... and is not.

An ActiveX component is just a general term, encompassing:

  • An ActiveX EXE
  • An ActiveX DLL
  • An ActiveX Control

An ActiveX component is not:

  • Active, in any way, shape or form
  • A source of fibre that can help you lose weight as part of a calorie controlled diet

So what exactly are ActiveX EXEs and DLLs? Basically, they're chunks of code you use in your Visual Basic projects just by setting a reference to them — a little like how you set a reference to DAO or ADO when you need access to a database.

But that's another department completely... more to the point, just what are ActiveX controls?

Well, you might not know this, but you already have experience of ActiveX controls. You've used them, tweaked them and tossed them to one side — all in the course of a days work. Ohhhh yes.

Indeed, every time you set the Text property of a Text Box, you're utilising an ActiveX control. Every time you respond to the Click event of a Command Button, you're utilising an ActiveX control. Every time you run the MoveNext method of the Data control, you're utilising an ActiveX control.

I think you get the picture. In essence, an ActiveX control is anything you might see in the Toolbox.

Top Tip: Don't forget that you can also add more controls to the Toolbox by selecting Projects, Components

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This article was originally published on November 20, 2002

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