A unified look at ActiveX and COM components.
ActiveXplorer is, as you might guess from the name, a tool for exploring
ActiveX componentsas well as other COM components and, now, .NET
components (though the application will still function perfectly well
if you don't have .NET on the computer). If you're like many developers
I know, you've still got one foot in the COM world even as you've moved
the other foot into the .NET world. In these circumstances, it's nice
to have tools that offer unified views of both worlds.
The application has a vaguely Outlook-like interface, with a bar down
the side offering categories (ActiveX controls, DLL servers, EXE servers,
.NET assemblies, and .NET assembies with COM interop). You can browse
through these various categories of components, both COM and .NET, and
choose one you'd like to view in greater detail. Then you can get the
overall information about the library as well as drill down into the interface
to see individual objects and public members. One nice touch is that you
can get the results in VB, VB.NET, or COM format. You can view a list
of public members (and other information like copyrights), see a treeview
of the interface (similar to what the Object Browser would show you),
or see dependency information. There's another pane that collects all
the registry information for the component.
If you're like most developers, you have hundreds or thousands of components
installed on your machine. ActiveXplorer will help you see just what's
there, and give you some sense of what it's used for. Performance is good,
and the interface is pretty intuitive.
There's some other useful stuff here toonotably a registry cleaner,
and the ability to generate HTML Help documentation from any component.
You can also instantiate any component in a browser window (no guarantees
that it will do anything useful, of course) or compare two versions of
You can download a freeware version to try out; it's limited in how much
it will show you, but allows you to exercise all of the capabilities of
Mike Gunderloy, MCSE, MCSD, MCDBA, is a former MCP columnist and the author of numerous development books.