IE Active Content Changes

Everyone and their mother will be blogging this, but for good reason – this is an important issue, and one we have to start addressing sooner rather than later.

Information on the changes to how Internet Explorer handles active content (like Flash and Shockwave) is now available at:

It’s better than it could have been, but it’s still going to be a pain. Thanks Eolas! (who’s up for TPing their corporate offices?)

Macromedia has been very responsive to this issue, and should have utilities to help us transition smoothly available soon (good job MM!!). It will soon be our turn, as developers, to ensure the transition continues smoothly. It should be our collective goal to make sure that when the first browsers with this change hit consumers in early 2004, users are met with a minimum number of prompts – we really don’t need to give people a new reason to hate/disable Flash.

[EDIT:] Does anyone know the answer to this very important question:

Does anyone know if the new IE differentiates between disabling Active Content prompts, and disabling ALL Active Content? This one issue will have a huge impact on our industry.

Grant Skinner

The "g" in gskinner. Also the "skinner".



  1. would it be crossing a line to put an Eolas-bashing gif as the main content in the <NOSCRIPT> block of our dynamic javascript? 😉


  2. Yeah, thanks Eolas. You gave all third-party software developers a big kick in the nuts. And it only costed Microsoft $500,000,000 to buy it! I bet they were rolling on the floor laughing when signing the check. And Eolas still think they’re heroes of the free world or something. Go figure. Yeah, at least we can still create Flash content if we write the object tag from an external .JS file (how ridiculous is that? how will you explain that to developers that are learning how to add content now?), but it’ll be such a pain. It’s just nonsense. It’s saying you can drive your car for free only if you get intside of it from the passanger (right) door because someone patented the driver (left) door 50 years ago.

    Yeah, someone create an Eolas bashing campaign, I’ll be one of the first to have such gif on my website(s).

  3. As if Eolas would accept the prompt-window crap… hehe.. the whole thing is only starting, folks…

  4. Eolas, Microsoft and Macromedia Active Content Developer Center (links)

    See Macromedia Active Content Developer Center Microsoft: Information for Developers about Changes to Internet Explorer. Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN). Macromedia: How will the Internet be affected? Hot! Will this affect my website? What is Macrom…

  5. Does this happen to every ActiveX object on the page? Say you have five SWFs, do you get the message five times!? That might get a little annoying…

    Also, will there be a way to change your settings in IE to ‘accept all ActiveX content’ without confirmation? They MUST put a checkbox in for that somewhere, surely!!

    And PLEASE don’t use JavaScript to write out object tags – it’s a foolish workaround that relies on client-side scripting and should never be used.

  6. Don’t you see ? M$ is taking the full advantage of the situation this is just an excuse for them to slowly push out the plugin technology from the browser. Do you realy think that M$ want’s Macromedia to take over the potentially biggest developer marked ? I would rather pay Eolas 10$ in a licence fee than paying M$ xxx$. I would say that you realy should checkout both sides of situation before bashing Eolas. Start here be reading what Eolas says:,4149,1304247,00.asp

  7. Jonas – the prompt thingy bypasses the patent because the patent is about “seamless embedding without prompts” or something like that. That’s why adding a prompt evades it. I’ve heard before that this would be done.

    Paul Neave – sure. It’s a bad hack. But it’s the most effective way to bypass the prompt, that’s the problem! Simply because “it’s on an external file”, and not “embedded in the html page”, bypasses the patent and as such it doesn’t show the prompt.

  8. what a nightmare… just think of all the adds now deployed with flash.

  9. Here’s an alternative to using the JS hack – a non-standards compliant hack to the object tag:


  10. Don’t make the mistake of believing that Mike Doyle had any motivation other than money. He was just cloaking himself as a David versus Goliath to help his case while lying through his teeth.

  11. What if we were to conquer EOLAS with a decimating force? Surely their ashes would not retain significant power to enforce or whine?

    Patent law is a joke, this is a joke… I’m going to patent picking your nose with your finger (total of ten patents) and everytime I see someone doing it with their own finger – I’ll get $1.47. Re_FKING_diculous.

  12. I’m about as far from a MS sympathizer as you can get, but I honestly think Microsoft handled this fairly. They had an opportunity to really shaft us all, by simply removing support for active content, or by implementing an extremely problematic workaround (like opening all active content in external “app” windows), but they spent a lot of legal dollars finding a solution that doesn’t change the “web experience”, even if it does require modifying tons of legacy work (think of it as a market opportunity).

    IMHO Eolas is just making a cash grab with a generic patent that they never tried to enforce until after the market matured – that’s just plain dirty. Think of the literally millions of tiny technologies that could have been patented in the same manner throughout the maturation of computer technology – we’d still be stuck with Apple II’s if everyone was as opportunist as Mr. Doyle (or our systems would cost $10k more in licensing fees).

  13. gregg – someone needs to put up an site with good information on the issue (not just bashing), I’d be happy to link my NOSCRIPT tags to site like that, that explains why my users can’t see my content.

    tg – yes, that’s going to be the nightmare. We have to hope the ad companies fix this before users start disabling active content in droves!

    paul – AFAIK that solution only works if the object tag doesn’t load external content (like your swf file) – I don’t think it will work for Flash.

    A very important question: Does anyone know if the new IE differentiates between disabling Active Content prompts, and disabling ALL Active Content? This one issue will have a huge impact on our industry.

  14. I here’by specifically and explicitly lay claim to any method that is simple, logical, and / or natural. Those mooks caught doing things the in most simple, logical or natural manner will be held liable for unspecified damages.

    Make no mistake, I’m serious. Ya’ll will be stuck doing things the hard way, ‘nless you license the (duh-type) methods from me.

    Mike Doyle – I’m watching you:) Better do things the hard way!

  15. I blame the jury! It’s worse than the OJ trial!

  16. The noexternaldata attribute also stops the URL attribute from being passed to the control (if it does point to external data like a flash movie), so it will not allow Flash objects to be loaded without the popup.

    Anyone doing Flash or Video in e-mail is totally screwed… can’t run javascript in e-mail clients (in most cases). This will put me out of business.

  17. Is there legal grounds against EOLAs (or Microsoft for that matter) by folks that will incur damages by this? It’s kind of funny that EOLAs let this slide for how many years? It’s not even a major contribution or innovation – it’s a simple and natural way of doing things. It makes me wonder how many other things are waiting to be sprung…

    This sucks.. Eolas sucks. If there’s a way to launch a suit and we have a case against them, I’m in.

  18. is available…

    Tempting. Very Tempting.

  19. Geez….that petition ain’t so eloquent. I done saw some other ones on slashdot that did be lookin more fancy.

    It is a good thought, though. 🙂

  20. Eolas are stifling innovation and creativity. What right do they have to this? I am totally pissed off. I worked my ass off to create some really nice ActiveX controls, now these f$^&%$ have made my work for naught. Where’s the countersuit?

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