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Chapter 11. ActiveX Basics > Servers, References, and Automation Models

Servers, References, and Automation Models

What is ActiveX Automation? ActiveX Automation is a method for one application to incorporate the functionality of another application by referring to, and therefore utilizing, its objects. ActiveX encompasses many services defined under the OLE 2.0 specification, such as linking and embedding objects, in-place editing, and many others. The foundation of this technology is COM, and ActiveX Automation is based on COM (Component Object Modeling). COM defines the interfaces for the objects the application exposes. The interface structure that COM defines enables COM objects to make their services available to other applications.

What then do you need to have in order to do ActiveX Automation? To provide ActiveX Automation in its most (excuse the pun) basic format, you need two things: an Automation controller and an Automation server. The application that controls the Automation is sometimes called the ActiveX controller or client or container application. You develop this application in a programming language that supports ActiveX Automation, such as Visual Basic, VBA, C, or C++. This book focuses on VBA; however, you can use this same methodology with Visual Basic, C, and C++ equally well. The application to be automated is sometimes called an ActiveX server or source application. This application exposes its objects for the controller to use. The objects have properties and methods that the controller can use to manipulate the objects as well as events that can be raised by the object. As you might guess, Visio is the ActiveX server that this book focuses on. However, this book also looks at the exposed objects of Microsoft Office 2000: Word, Excel, Access, PowerPoint, and Outlook.


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