Application Design  

The SocketTools ActiveX Edition is designed to be flexible enough to address the needs of developers who have very basic needs, as well as those who have more complex requirements. As a result, the properties and methods for a control can be broken down into two general categories: a high level interface to perform common tasks, and a lower level interface which provides more control at the expense of being somewhat more complicated and requiring more coding. For example, consider the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) control which has a variety of high level methods such as GetFile, PostData and so on. Using these methods, your application can perform the most common tasks for that protocol with a minimum of coding. You don't need to even understand the basics of how the protocol works, or what the control is doing. The high level methods allow you to program against the control as though it is a "black box", where you can provide the input and process the output without concerning yourself with the details of what's going on behind the scenes.

However, in some cases it's necessary for an application to have more direct control over how the control operates or to take advantage of features that aren't explicitly supported by one of the higher level methods. As an example, the HTTP control also has methods like Command, which enable you to send custom commands to a web server. Normally, for operations like retrieving a file or posting data to a script, this isn't necessary. But if your application needs to use WebDAV, a set of extensions to the HTTP protocol to support distributed web authoring, then the lower level methods like Command enable you to do this.

If you are generally new to Internet programming or are just getting started with SocketTools, we recommend that you begin familiarizing yourself with the higher level methods using a basic synchronous (blocking) connection in a single-threaded application. Once you become more familiar with how the control works, then you can move on to more complex applications which leverage the lower level methods, taking advantage of asynchronous networking connections and so on.

One of the common pitfalls that developers can encounter with a large toolkit like SocketTools is the inclination to over-design the application from the start, and then become frustrated because they don't yet have a clear picture of how all the pieces fit together. Start out with a basic design and then as you become more familiar with how the SocketTools controls work, expand on it.