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The Challenge of ActiveX

Earlier today we reported on the release of TX Text Controls ActiveX 16.0, a collection of word processing components for ActiveX app development. The new release brings the ActiveX control suite to par with previously released WPF and Windows Forms versions of TX Text Controls 16.0.

For Bjoern Meyer, vice president of product management at component maker Text Control GmbH, the decision to release an ActiveX port of its latest TX Text Controls package was a simple matter of customer demand.

"Overall, we delivered more than 40,000 licenses of TX Text Control. A significant part [of that] was ActiveX and these legacy applications are still maintained," Meyer told me in an email interview. "People need newer document formats such as DOCX or PDF/A, so a newer release is required."

Meyer is quick to point out that many companies developing ActiveX-based applications are looking to move to .NET. And for good reason, Meyer said, noting that Microsoft "moved Visual Basic 6.0 out of extended support starting in 2008." He also added that the 32-bit VB6 runtime files and ActiveX controls may not be supported by newer versions of Windows.

"From a developer point of view, I would do everything to move to .NET as soon as possible," Meyer said, adding that his company offers free migration support to help move customers from ActiveX to .NET.

"Do I think that all applications with several millions of lines of code will be ported to .NET in one or two years?" Meyer asked. "Of course not. That takes time and costs a lot of money. Especially, because porting applications from one to the other technology is nothing innovative."

Meyer continues: "At the end of the day, you [end up with] the same functionality but on a different platform. No, the reasons must be somewhere else. .NET is a future-oriented development platform and it is easier to maintain later. But it is crystal-clear: Porting the code to .NET is very expensive, but not doing it could kill your business.

Are you currently supporting ActiveX applications? If so, how are you going about managing the platform challenge?

Posted by Michael Desmond on 01/26/2011

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