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Issue 4.4


Mozilla ActiveX Control

Issue: 4.4 (March/April 2006)
Author: Brian Rathbone
Article Description: No description available.
Article Length (in bytes): 4,382
Starting Page Number: 10
Article Number: 4406
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Full text of article...

The Mozilla ActiveX control allows developers to utilize Mozilla and the Gecko engine to render HTML from within your Windows applications. If you are currently using the Internet Explorer ActiveX control in your applications, the Mozilla control makes the transition painless by implementing the exact same APIs -- all events, methods, and properties are identical. There is even an IE patcher tool available that will scan any executable or DLL that uses the Internet Explorer control and can replace instances of the Internet Explorer control with the Mozilla control.

For REALbasic 5.5 users, the uses for this control are somewhat limited due to the inability to access the control's events. You can, however, access the control's methods, which should be enough for rudimentary purposes, such as displaying basic HTML help files. REALbasic 2005 (and later) offers improved support for events within the OLEContainer control, which opens the door for much greater functionality. Developers can even create their own Mozilla-based web browser.

Installation is fairly straightforward, but the control must be registered manually. This process is as simple as opening a command prompt, navigating to the install directory, and executing regsvr32 mozctlx.dll. Once the control has been registered, it becomes accessible from within REALbasic. Users of REALbasic 5.5 will need to place a copy of xpcom.dll somewhere within the system path or in the REALbasic directory in order to avoid a file not found error. Xpcomm.dll is included with the Mozilla ActiveX control installation.

Internet Explorer DOM support is included, allowing developers to make use of IHtmlDocument2, IHtmlElement, IHtmlElementCollection, and others to parse the contents of a page and even modify the retrieved page before it is displayed to the user. Al Mozilla ActiveX control for Plug-ins is available, which allows developers to host most Netscape Plug-in API (LiveConnect) plug-ins within their applications.

A Plug-in for ActiveX controls, which makes it possible to use embedded ActiveX controls from within a variety of browsers including Netscape 4.x/6.x, Mozilla, and Opera is also available. It can be used to host ActiveX controls within any application that supports the Netscape plug-in architecture. While this seems to fly in the face of the overall Mozilla effort, it does provide developers with some intriguing capabilities. This functionality is only recommended for the support of custom, legacy, or intranet applications. The enabling of ActiveX within Mozilla for Internet purposes is highly discouraged, as this would eliminate one of the inherent benefits of Mozilla and the Gecko engine.

While it would be possible to port this project for Macintosh and Linux use, the developer has stated that there are currently no plans to do this. It has been reported that the Mozilla ActiveX control can be used with WINE, but it does not appear to be officially supported.

These products are implemented in ATL, and the source code is freely available. For those who have been searching for an alternative to the Internet Explorer ActiveX control, the Mozilla ActiveX control provides an attractive, open-source, and free solution.

End of article.