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Overview and Definition of Active Documents

The two most well-known Document container applications on the market today are Microsoft Office Binder and Internet Explorer (version 3.0 and above). However Microsoft's 97 Office Suite provides examples of important end-user applications that can serve as Active Document applications: You can already open a Word or Excel document in Internet Explorer without having to go through the Word or Excel programs. (Of course Word and Excel still need to be installed on the user's workstation for this to work!)

And, of course, the VB6 IDE can act as an Active Document container!

When users run a container application, they can open an Active Document component's data files directly from the container without having to think about the mechanics of the Active Document application itself.

Superficially, then, an Active Document running in its container application might look like an exposed ActiveX server object in an OLE container. However, an Active Document exposes an entire application to its container. An OLE container, on the other hand, makes available only a piece of an ActiveX server application's data.

End users will no longer have to think about opening an application just to get to their data. The ActiveX container (the operating system's file interface) will use Active Document applications (such as the current versions of Word and Excel and, who knows, perhaps your applications) to offer a seamless user interface for Active Document applications' data files.

When you program your own Active Document applications, you will use many ActiveX concepts and techniques such as those discussed in the previous two chapters on ActiveX servers and ActiveX controls.

NOTE - The Future of the Active Document Concept : Although it might seem like an insignificant area because so few applications are able to act as Active Document containers, Microsoft is grooming the Active Document concept to be the future of operating system interfaces to application data. Windows 98's integration of Internet Browser and Windows Explorer is just one more step toward Microsoft's docu-centric environment of the future.


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