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JavaBeans versus ActiveX - A Comparison based on a whole new scale

Gopalan Suresh Raj

    Unlike ActiveX/COM, JavaBeans is not a binary standard. Practically speaking, it is at a much higher level than ActiveX/COM. So, it is unfair to compare the two. However, since there is a lot of talk going on comparing these technologies, let us compare an ActiveX control to a JavaBean. Our comparison of the two will be based on the following criteria.

Interface Definition: Any good component technology should allow for defining properties and generate and respond to events. This is very important since this information is used to integrate the component with third party components.

Property Sheets/Pages: Any good component technology should allow graphical editing of properties. Since almost all environments support Graphical User Interfaces, it is only logical to expect that components can be configured graphically with a GUI interface that it provides.

Interface Messaging Mechanisms: The component technology should provide the ability to define methods which can be called by any third party software or scripting tool that uses the component.

Bridging: The component technology should provide mechanisms by which these components could be tied together.

Criteria JavaBeans ActiveX Controls
Interface Definition Introspection provides a way by which a component can autodescribe itself. It does this either using the BeanInfo class if it is provided or uses the Reflection APIs if it is not provided. The Interface Definition files (IDLs) define a component’s properties, methods and events that need to be exposed. There are wizards that can create IDLs for the programmer.
Property sheets/pages Customization allows a Bean to guide user initialization of the Bean through a property sheet. Property pages that come with the components help the user customize the control.
Messaging The Java event model ensures that proper messaging takes place and the right methods are called as approprate. (D)COM ensures that these controls talk to each other’s exposed interface methods either across different processes or machines.
Bridging The Event model ensures that various beans written to the Bean spec can be bridged by registering listeners. These controls are bridged together through events. If any of these events use parameters, these are included in the signature of the event being called.

More coming soon...


A Component Engineering Cornucopia by Gopalan Suresh Raj
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Last updated February 22, 1998
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