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VB6 Programmer's Introduction to COM

  • November 20, 2002
  • By James Limm
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The Microsoft Component Object Model, lovingly referred to as COM, is probably the most mysterious acronym yet to come from our friends in Redmond. Speak with any Visual Basic programmer and ask them a very simple question: What is COM?

  • "It is the glue for Microsoft applications."
  • "It lets you create components."
  • "It allows software objects to talk to other software objects."
  • "It is a standard for components."
  • "I don't know, I just work here."

You will find that almost everyone you speak to will have a different view of what COM is, but it would be unfair to lay the blame for this confusion at the door of the programmer. The standard marketing definitions are not well known because COM is not a product you can go down to the store and purchase. In addition, Microsoft has not made things any easier, since it seems to change the definition each time a new set of PowerPoint slides are shown to the public.

When I decided that I wanted to know what this "COM" thing was and what it meant to me as a Visual Basic programmer, I knew I was on a journey. You can think of this book as the field notes I made on that trip. Luckily, I found that with Visual Basic as my guide, I was able to take quite a few shortcuts, so put your hiking boots on and let's hit the trail!

From this point forward, I will refer to the Component Object Model as COM.

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