In Part One of our Introduction to ActiveX, we covered the basics of ActiveX controls. Today we’re going to go over some ActiveX specifics as they relate to the Internet Explorer environment and the management of ActiveX controls. The default installation location for ActiveX controls is %windir%\Downloaded Program Files. You will normally see the control itself, as well as the .INF file contained within the .CAB file when downloaded to the client machine during installation. Note that the operating system sees this location as a special directory type, so you will need to use a CMD window to view the installed files in their normally downloaded state.
At left is an example of what you might see if you were to navigate to this folder by using Internet Explorer and then selecting Internet Options –> Settings –> View Objects. If you right click on an individual control and view the property sheet, you will see that there are several pieces of useful information that we can get from each control including:
- Creation Date
- Last Access Time
- GUID (the unique identifier)
- Codebase (where the ActiveX control came from)
Within this Explorer window, we are limited in what actions we can perform. With the release of Windows XP Service Pack 2 and Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1, Internet Explorer introduced a management system for ActiveX controls called the Add-On manager (shown below). This new UI provides a more enhanced view that allows very granular control over which ActiveX controls are loaded into the Internet Explorer process when launched. Within this managment UI we are able to enable, disable and even update ActiveX controls.
OK – that will do it for this quick look at ActiveX control management. In Part Three, we’ll take a look at ActiveX and Security Zones. Below are some additional resources regarding ActiveX.
- KB 154544: Description of ActiveX Technologies
- MSDN: About ActiveX Controls
- MSDN: Introduction to ActiveX Controls
– Brent Goodpaster