by Jim Karabatsos - GUI Computing
I thought people might like to see what it is like to get an ActiveX Document sent to them over the net. As a small sampler, I copied the loan calculator from the last issue together with all the required files onto our web server. Than I placed a link to it on my (now hopelessly outdated) home page.
I was rather concerned to find that it didn't work! After getting all excited about the possibilities opened up by these new critters, suddenly it seemed that I could only use them if the Web server was IIS running on NT.
Now don't get me wrong, I really love NT and I think that IIS is a fine Web server. If I were setting up a web site I would prefer to use it, if only because I can use Windows development tools to do my server-side programming (and ASPs are just too cool!). The real world is often not so accommodating, however. Many web sites are "virtual" sites, hosted on a machine that belongs to and is controlled by the ISP. Many of these machines, for better or worse, are running some Un*x derivative.
I turns out that ActiveX documents can indeed be served by Un*x servers. The glitch that I ran into was caused by the fact that the server did not recognise the ".vbd" extension as being a binary file and served it in ASCII mode. This caused the browser to fail to recognise it as a trigger for an ActiveX document and the result was just some garbage characters in Internet Explorer.
All I had to do in order to get this to work was rename the ".vbd" file with a new extension. I used ".bin" as that seemed an obvious choice. I also had to change the HTML to refer to this new name, of course. Once that was done, the ActiveX document was served without any dramas from the server.
Now if only we can get some certificates in Australia so we can sign these things <sigh>.