Re: Working Within the System

From: Martin Ling (
Date: Sun Apr 30 2000 - 11:52:39 MDT

On Sun, Apr 30, 2000 at 01:02:08PM -0400, Michael S. Lorrey wrote:
> >
> > ActiveX components are simply Windows executables. Making a runtime for
> > them would basically mean making a runtime to allow Windows programs to
> > run on other OS's. This is *not* a simple task, and not one Microsoft is
> > willing to allow (they refuse to document the APIs, hence everything has
> > to be reverse-engineered). Witness the Wine project (allowing Windows
> > programs to run on Linux) - which has taken years to get as far as it
> > has, and although an impressive job is *still* only experimental.
> I would hardly say only experimental. Witness the fact that the whole
> Corel Word Perfect port depended totally on Wine. The fact WP is running
> so well on linux now attests to that.

The Linux port of WP runs native. Wine is not yet at the stage where it
can be used as an alternative to porting software. It's just about
solid with most Windows 3.1 software now (Word 6 is usable but slow).
The 95/98/NT API's still have a lot of unknown factors.

Corel do have involvement with Wine (they are now funding the project),
and there is much speculation about them finishing that instead of
making native Linux ports.

That isn't *really* feasible - although if the current proposed
Microsoft ruling goes through and the API information is made available,
development can step up very quickly. For a long while, people were
reluctant to fund it

I believe Corel's move was probably more based on a plan to, having
established themselves in the Linux distribution market, boost the
spread of Linux by giving it solid Windows application support.

> You don't need to know what all the undocumented API hooks in Windows
> are to have a good ActiveX interpreter. You only need it to know what
> the public will be writing to in their own ActiveX components, AND you
> can build it to be more secure than MS's own ActiveX implementation.
> Insisting on knowing every hidden 'feature' of windows is a cop out that
> non-MS people try to use as an excuse to get under the hood. Its a whine
> by mediocre coders who want everything to be explained to them and done
> for them, rather than having to figure it out for themselves.

Maybe one could make an ActiveX interpreter, but at the time ActiveX was
released there was only the one very insecure, and platform specific,
implementation. No-one had any reason to build a better one, and
everyone had plenty of reason to drop it on the floor immediately.

Bear in mind that from the point of view of a Web site designer there is
no reason to use ActiveX.

 - because doing so immediately cuts out a portion of your potential

 - because you then have to implement another version for viewers
   without ActiveX support.

 - because it offers no functionality that cannot already be provided by
   a cross-platform alternative, Java.

 - because it is a known security risk that will mean people not wishing
   to use it from your site.


| Martin J. Ling              Tel: +44 (0)20 8863 2948   |
|      Fax: +44 (0)20 8248 4025   |
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