Exploring ActiveX Technology: Overview for Developers

ActiveX technology has been a cornerstone in the development landscape, offering developers a powerful and flexible framework to create dynamic and interactive software components. This article explores the history, pros, and cons of ActiveX technology, shedding light on its relevance in the contemporary development world.

The Birth of ActiveX

ActiveX, short for Active eXtended, emerged in the early 1990s as a Microsoft-led initiative to provide a set of reusable software components for building interactive and visually rich applications. The technology was introduced as an extension of the Component Object Model (COM), enabling developers to create objects that could be easily shared and reused across different applications.

Pros of ActiveX Technology

1. Reusability and Interoperability

ActiveX components are designed to be reusable across different applications, promoting code efficiency and reducing development time. The technology’s emphasis on interoperability allows developers to seamlessly integrate components into various environments.

2. Rich User Interface

ActiveX facilitates the creation of visually appealing and interactive user interfaces. With support for multimedia elements, animations, and other advanced features, developers can craft applications that engage users on a whole new level.

3. Browser Integration

ActiveX controls can be embedded in web pages, enabling developers to build browser-based applications with enhanced functionality. This capability was particularly revolutionary in the early days of web development.

4. Versatility

ActiveX technology is not limited to a specific programming language. Developers can create components using languages like C++, Visual Basic, and others, ensuring a broad range of language compatibility.

Cons of ActiveX Technology

1. Security Concerns

ActiveX controls have faced criticism for potential security vulnerabilities. When embedded in web pages, they can pose a security risk if not properly managed, leading to potential exploits and malicious attacks.

2. Limited Cross-Platform Support

ActiveX is primarily a Microsoft technology, which means its support is limited in non-Windows environments. This can be a drawback for developers aiming to create cross-platform applications.

3. Dependence on Internet Explorer

In the context of web applications, ActiveX controls are closely associated with Internet Explorer. With the decline of Internet Explorer’s popularity, developers may face challenges in achieving consistent support across modern browsers.

The Evolution Beyond ActiveX: Modern Alternatives and Advancements

In recent years, ActiveX technology has seen a decline in popularity, giving way to more modern and versatile alternatives. One prominent successor is WebAssembly (Wasm), a binary instruction format that enables high-performance execution of code on web browsers. Unlike ActiveX, WebAssembly is designed to be platform-independent, providing a more secure and efficient solution for running complex applications directly in the browser without the need for browser plugins.

Another noteworthy successor is JavaScript-based frameworks such as React, Angular, and Vue.js. These frameworks have gained widespread adoption for building dynamic and responsive user interfaces. Unlike the platform-dependent nature of ActiveX, JavaScript frameworks offer cross-browser compatibility and improved security, ensuring a consistent and safer user experience across different web environments.


ActiveX technology has played a pivotal role in shaping the development landscape, providing developers with a powerful framework for creating dynamic and interactive software components. While it has its share of pros and cons, the technology’s versatility and reusability continue to make it relevant in certain development scenarios. Read more about ActiveX technology on Wikipedia.

ActiveX Technology is used in our libraries PDF Creator Pilot and HTML2PDF-X Pilot. This simplifies the usage of the library in various programming languages: Visual Basic, Visual Basic.NET, ASP, ASP.NET, Visual C++, Visual C#, and VBScript.


– PDF Creator Pilot-                        – HTML2PDF-X Pilot –