ActiveX from Microsoft and JavaBeans are two competing frameworks designed to make creating applications easier by allowing for individual and reusable software components. Developers can use both in visual development environments. There are also major differences. JavaBeans is based on the Java language and runtime environment. When you install Java for your computer, that is a tool that reads the Java language and is able to display the environment. The Microsoft framework is based on Windows and the component object model. It is important to understand some other key differences between the frameworks.
JavaBeans components are developed to be portable to nearly any operating system that can execute the runtime environment or plug-in. This makes JavaBeans accessible to most of the computers in use today. All of the functionality of the framework is accessible regardless of the underlying operating system. Alternately, the Microsoft framework is only fully functional under the Windows operating system or an emulator. This is mainly because the components are using precompiled libraries and objects that are specifically linked for only one platform.
System Control and Integration
ActiveX provides incredibly broad and detailed control of the entire operating system through the component framework. The framework gives developers and potentially end-users the ability to access any part of the operating system. JavaBeans operates inside of a virtual sandbox that is isolated from the underlying operating system. JavaBeans is sometimes limited in what can and cannot be accessed. There are some functions that JavaBeans will never be able to access without linking to native code libraries.
JavaBeans is simply a framework for wrapping components and objects. Anyone who is using JavaBeans really only has to learn Java and the signatures of the interfaces required to complete a bean component. The learning curve is very simple and fast for JavaBeans. Alternately, the framework by Microsoft is separate from any single programming language. It must be learned in addition to languages like C or Visual Basic. This makes the framework more difficult to learn.
The ActiveX framework tends to have much better performance than JavaBeans under specific circumstances. The Microsoft framework is very fast when used under a native Windows environment. This performance advantage goes away under different hardware setups or operating systems. JavaBeans is slower although the performance is consistent across all platforms. This consistency makes it easier to design and test JavaBeans components that will be run on a variety of systems or devices.
Components in the JavaBeans framework are designed to be lightweight so they use as few system resources as possible. This has allowed JavaBeans to become a viable framework for nearly any modern device. The framework from Microsoft has mostly heavyweight components. The components require a larger amount of memory and processing power to execute. This has limited use of the framework in some mobile and cloud-based environments.
Although the Microsoft framework has made advances, JavaBeans is still far more secure from typical attacks and security problems. This is because of the sandbox the Java language uses to isolate and protect the code. JavaBeans components are very difficult or impossible to corrupt, manipulate or hijack. The Microsoft framework relies on the underlying operating system, making it more vulnerable.