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JavaScript and Embedded Objects

There's more to Web browsers than (X)HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. ActiveX, plug-ins, and other embedded objects help make the Web what it is today. Get the scoop on these and more in this chapter excerpt from JavaScript: The Complete Reference, second edition, by Thomas Powell and Fritz Schneider McGraw-Hill/Osborne, ISBN 0072253576.

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By: McGraw-Hill/Osborne
Rating: 4 stars4 stars4 stars4 stars4 stars / 92
October 26, 2004
  1. · JavaScript and Embedded Objects
  2. · Java
  3. · Including Applets
  4. · Accessing Applets in JavaScript
  5. · Issues with JavaScript-Driven Applets
  6. · Plug-ins
  7. · MIME Types
  8. · Detecting Specific Plug-Ins
  9. · Interacting with Plug-Ins
  10. · Refreshing the Plug-Ins Array
  11. · Interacting with a Specific Plug-In
  12. · ActiveX
  13. · Cross-Browser Inclusion of Embedded Objects
  14. · Interacting with ActiveX Controls
  15. · Summary

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JavaScript and Embedded Objects - Plug-ins
(Page 6 of 15 )

Browser plug-ins are executable components that extend the browser’s capabilities in a particular way. When the browser encounters an embedded object of a type that it is not prepared to handle (e.g., something that isn’t HTML or other Web file type), the browser might hand the content off to an appropriate plug-in. If no appropriate plug-in is installed, the user is given the option to install one (assuming the page is properly written). Plug-ins consist of executable code for displaying or otherwise processing a particular type of data. In this way, the browser is able to hand special types of data, for example multimedia files, to plug-ins for processing.

Plug-ins are persistent in the browser in the sense that once installed, they remain there unless manually removed by the user. Most browsers come with many plug-ins already installed, so you may have used them without even knowing. Plug-ins were introduced in Netscape 2 but are supported, at least HTML–syntax-wise, by most major browsers, including Opera and Internet Explorer 3 and later. However, the actual component in the case of Internet Explorer is not a plug-in but instead an ActiveX control discussed later in the chapter. Plug-ins are a Netscape-introduced technology supported by many other browsers.

Embedding Content for Plug-Ins

Although never officially a part of any HTML specification, the <embed> tag is most often used to include embedded objects for Netscape and Internet Explorer. A Macromedia Flash file might be embedded as follows:

<embed id="demo" name="demo"
 width="318" height="252" play="true" loop="false"

The result of loading a page with this file is shown in Figure 18-3.

The most important attributes of the <embed> tag are src, which gives the URL of the embedded object, and pluginspage, which indicates to the browser where the required plug-in is to be found if it is not installed in the browser. Plug-in vendors typically make available the embedding syntax, so check their site for the value of pluginspage.

Recall that applets embedded with <object> tags are passed initial parameters in <param> tags. The syntax of <embed> is different in that initial parameters are passed using attributes of the element itself. For instance, in the preceding example the play attribute tells the plug-in to immediately begin playing the specified file.

An embedded Flash file

The <object> element is the newer, official way to include embedded objects of any kind in your pages. However, <object> is not supported in Netscape browsers prior to version 4, and <embed> continues to be supported by new browsers. So it is unlikely that <object> will completely supplant <embed> any time in the near future. However, <object> and <embed> are very often used together in order to maximize client compatibility. This technique is illustrated in the later ActiveX section of this chapter.

McGraw-Hill-OsborneThis chapter is from JavaScript: The Complete Reference, second edition, by Thomas Powell and Fritz Schneider, McGraw-Hill/Osborne, ISBN: 0072253576). Check it out at your favorite bookstore today.

Buy this book now.

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