ActiveX Server Migration to .NET

14. December 2009 08:01 by Mrojas in General  //  Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,   //   Comments (0)

 In VB6 ActiveX-EXEs or ActiveX OLE Server where used for several reasons. Sometimes it was performance (because it allowed you to run your code in another process) and sometimes as way to share resources between several applications, like connection information, database connections, mainframe info, etc.

During migration some of this ActiveX-Exes can be migrated as simple Assembly DLLs, but other require more attention. Specially if they have global variables that hold state shared by several programs.

In that is your case what are your options then?

1. Convert those ActiveX-Exes to Windows Services.

This option is simple. You modify your migrated assembly to work as a Windows Service. The easier way to do that is:

a) Start Microsoft Visual Studio 2005\2008

b) Go to File\New…\Project… and Select Windows Service

That will generated code like:

using System;
using System.Collections.Generic;
using System.ComponentModel;
using System.Data;
using System.Diagnostics;
using System.Linq;
using System.ServiceProcess;
using System.Text;
namespace WindowsService1
   public partial class Service1 : ServiceBase
      public Service1()    InitializeComponent();    }
protected override void OnStart(string[] args)    {   }
protected override void OnStop()    {   }

c) Add a reference to the Remoting Assemblies: System.Runtime.Remoting;

d) Modify the previous code:

Add two using statements like:

using System.Runtime.Remoting.Channels.Http;
using System.Runtime.Remoting.Channels;
using System.Runtime.Remoting;

Add a simple event log for tracing:


private static EventLog evt = new EventLog(“Application”);
private static string SVC_NAME = “ActiveX Server Example Svc”;

 And modify the OnStart and OnStop methods to look like:

  protected override void OnStart(string[] args)
    HttpChannel chnl = new HttpChannel(1234);
ChannelServices.RegisterChannel(chnl,true );
RemotingConfiguration.RegisterWellKnownServiceType(typeof(MyClass), “MyClass.soap”, WellKnownObjectMode.Singleton);
   evt.WriteEntry(SVC_NAME + ” Started”);


protected override void OnStop() { evt.WriteEntry(SVC_NAME +” Stoppped”); }

Also make sure that MyClass extends MarshalByRefClass

2. Convert those ActiveX-Exes using the Artinsoft ActiveX migration helpers.

 Sometimes, you need your migrated application to replicate some of the original ActiveX EXE \OLE DLL VB6 characteristics. For example you need your ActiveX-EXE to start just when the first instance is created and to resemble the VB6 logic for Process creation\destruction.

For that purpose Artinsoft has created some helpers that our migration tool is able to automatically use in the generated code if it detects that this functionality is needed.

The code will then be changed from:

Dim myInstance As New MyProject.MyClass

To the following Helper method:

myInstance = MyProjectFactory.Create< MyProject.MyClass>(myInstance);

 And destroy calls can be changed to the following Helper method:

 myInstance= MyProjectFactory.Dispose<MyProject.MyClass >( myInstance); 

The migration tool will modify your ActiveX-EXEs or OLE Servers to be Windows EXE and the helper will then locate the assembly that contains the desired Class, create an instance and initilize a Remoting channel to the desired classes. Settings as SingleUse and MultiUse are also taken care by the helpers.

3. Other possible alternatives are using WFC and COM+ that I will comment in another post.