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Interop Marshaling, Managed Structures, SAFEARRAYs

Marshaling a SAFEARRAY of Managed Structures by P/Invoke Part 1.

1. Introduction.

1.1 I have previously written about exchanging SAFEARRAYs of managed structures with unmanaged code via COM interop.

1.2 In this new series of articles, I shall expound on the exchange of such SAFEARRAYs via P/Invoke.

1.3 I have arranged this series of articles into multiple parts. In the first 3 parts, I shall show simple marshaling of an array of C# structure to and from unmanaged code via APIs exported from a DLL. The marshaling of the C# array is done with the use of SAFEARRAYs.

1.4 In later parts, I will demonstrate how to marshal a structure that contains an array of structures.

1.5 Before the end of this series, I will up the ante even further by demonstrating how to marshal a structure that contains an array of structures that each contains an array of structures. Sounds confusing I know but I have seen questions on MSDN forums that are based on this type of convoluted scenario. It is also something which I have long wanted to expound on as it demonstrates the power and consistency of SAFEARRAYs.

1.6 What I intend to do is to explain the principles of the marshaling process as well as the rudiments of using SAFEARRAYs to contain structures. Even structures that contain more SAFEARRAYs. Important information on the avoidance of memory crash and leakage will also be presented.

1.7 I shall be using C# to develop the managed code and the umanaged code shall be written in C++.

1.8 Note that throughout this series of artciles, we shall be working only with single-dimensional managed arrays and SAFEARRAYs.

2. Why Use SAFEARRAYs ?

2.1 In various articles that I have previously written in my blog, I have emphasized the advantage of using SAFEARRAYs to represent managed arrays, these are summarized below :

  • SAFEARRAYs, just like their managed array counterparts, intrinsically holds information on the data type of the elements that it contains.
  • SAFEARRAYs also intrinsically holds information on the number of dimensions and the number of elements per dimension of its array.
  • SAFEARRAYs are created and destroyed using standard Windows APIs like SafeArrayCreate() and SafeArrayDestroy(). Management APIs like SafeArrayGetLBound() and SafeArrayGetUBound() are also available. This makes it suitable for use in all unmanaged language.
  • The last point also makes SAFEARRAYs accessible and manageable by the CLR. This is why the use of SAFEARRAYs is the preferred way to exchange arrays between managed and unmanaged code. Especially so in cases where the size of the array may change during a call to unmanaged functions.

2.2 The SAFEARRAY is thus the best unmanaged type that matches a managed array.

3. The Test Structures.

3.1 For the purpose of this article, I have defined the following basic C# structure that will be used throughout the series of blogs :

public struct TestStructure
{
    public Int32 m_integer;
    public double m_double;
    public string m_string;
}

3.2 As mentioned in a previous article I wrote (see points 2 and 3 of Marshaling a SAFEARRAY of Managed Structures by COM Interop Part 1), a structure that is to be contained inside a SAFEARRAY must be a COM User-Defined Type (UDT).

3.3 To enable a managed structure to be transformed into a COM UDT, we use various .NET attributes to describe elements of the managed structure :

[ComVisible(true)]
[StructLayout(LayoutKind.Sequential, Pack = 1)]
[Guid("1979BCD7-1062-44d8-B3FC-A2686C61E715")]
public struct TestStructure
{
    [MarshalAs(UnmanagedType.I4)]
    public Int32 m_integer;
    [MarshalAs(UnmanagedType.R8)]
    public double m_double;
    [MarshalAs(UnmanagedType.BStr)]
    public string m_string;
}

Here, I used the ComVisibleAttribute, StructLayoutAttribute, GuidAttribute and various MarshalAsAttributes to describe TestStructure so that when we later use TLBEXP.EXE to generate a type library for the assembly that contains the C# structure, a COM UDT will be properly defined inside the type library. 

3.4 For more information, please refer to points 2 and 3 of Marshaling a SAFEARRAY of Managed Structures by COM Interop Part 1.

3.5 In order to expose TestStructure as a COM UDT, we must first define it inside a C# assembly (DLL or EXE) and then create a type library from the C# assembly using the Type Library Exporter (TLBEXP.EXE).

3.6 For the purpose of this article, I contained the definition of TestStructure inside a C# project (named CSConsoleApp) that produces an EXE assembly. For full source codes, please refer to point 6.8.

4. Type Library Creation.

4.1 As mentioned previously, to expose TestStructure to the unmanaged world by way of a COM type library, we use the Type Library Exporter (TLBEXP.EXE).

4.2 The following is a typical command line showing how we can use TLBEXP.EXE to produce a type library from the COM-visible contents of a managed assembly :

tlbexp CSConsoleApp.exe /out:CSConsoleApp.tlb

4.3 When we examine CSConsoleApp.tlb via OLEVIEW.EXE, we can see the following definition of TestStructure :

// Generated .IDL file (by the OLE/COM Object Viewer)
// 

[
  uuid(4E765D3B-C1F5-4CDE-8095-1E9614E0AE3F),
  version(1.0)
]
library CSConsoleApp
{
    // TLib :     // Forward declare all types defined in this typelib
    typedef
    [
	uuid(1979BCD7-1062-44D8-B3FC-A2686C61E715), version(1.0),
    	custom({0F21F359-AB84-41E8-9A78-36D110E6D2F9}, "CSConsoleApp.TestStructure")
    ]
    struct tagTestStructure
    {
	long m_integer;
	double m_double;
	BSTR m_string;
    } TestStructure;
};

Note that the GUID associated with TestStructure is exactly that which we used in point 2.3. The data type for each of the member fields also correspond to how we defined them using MarshalAsAttributes.

4.4 Now that we have produced CSConsoleApp.tlb, we can use it to create an unmanaged DLL that exposes APIs that exchanges arrays of managed structures via SAFEARRAYs.

4.5 The type library is used by unmanaged code as that references to COM entities (e.g. the TestStructure struct) can be resolved. In the C++ DLL project which will be described in the next section, we will be #importing this type library.

4.6 Note that in further installments of this series of articles, I shall be augmenting the source codes of CSConsoleApp.exe with more structure definitions and will be re-creating CSConsoleApp.tlb.

5. Unmanaged API that takes a SAFEARRAY of TestStructure.

5.1 In this section, I shall write a C++ exported function that can be imported into a C# application. For the purpose of this article, I have written this exported function as part of a DLL project the output of which is UnmanagedDll.dll. In order to adequately reference the TestStructure struct in the exported function, the CSConsoleApp.tlb type library must be #imported into the source codes, e.g. :

#import "CSConsoleApp.tlb" raw_interfaces_only no_implementation
using namespace CSConsoleApp;

5.2 The exported function that we will expose to C# takes as input a pointer to a SAFEARRAY of TestStructure structures, performs some basic tests to ascertain its characteristics (e.g. that it contains VT_RECORD types and that the GUID of the structures contained in the SAFEARRAY is as expected) and then displays the values of members of each structure.

5.3 The following is a full code listing of this function :

extern "C" __declspec(dllexport) void __stdcall SetArrayOfTestStructure
(
	/*[in]*/ SAFEARRAY* pSafeArrayOfTestStructure
)
{
	// Call the SafeArrayGetVartype() to determine
	// the VARTYPE of the contained elements.
	VARTYPE vt;	

	// The value is VT_RECORD (i.e. 36).
	SafeArrayGetVartype(pSafeArrayOfTestStructure, &vt);

	_ASSERT(vt == VT_RECORD);

	// Get the IRecordInfo object associated with the structure.
	IRecordInfoPtr spIRecordInfo = NULL;
	SafeArrayGetRecordInfo(pSafeArrayOfTestStructure, &spIRecordInfo);

	// Get the GUID associated with the IRecordInfo object.
	// This is the same GUID associated with the structure,
	// i.e. 1979bcd7-1062-44d8-b3fc-a2686c61e715.
	GUID guid;
	spIRecordInfo -> GetGuid(&guid);

	_ASSERT(guid == __uuidof(TestStructure));

	// Obtain bounds information of the SAFEARRAY.
	long lLbound = 0;
	long lUbound = 0;

	SafeArrayGetLBound(pSafeArrayOfTestStructure, 1, &lLbound);
	SafeArrayGetUBound(pSafeArrayOfTestStructure, 1, &lUbound);
	long lDimSize = lUbound - lLbound + 1;		

	printf ("Size of SAFEARRAY : [%d].\r\n", lDimSize);

	// Obtain a copy of each structure contained
	// in the SAFEARRAY.
	for (int i = 0; i < lDimSize; i++)
    	{
		long rgIndices[1];
		TestStructure value;
		// Note that we must set all fields
		// inside "value" to zero.
		// This is important because
		// SafeArrayGetElement() will first
		// clear all members of value.
		// For the "m_string" BSTR member,
		// it will call the ::SysFreeString()
		// API. Now if "m_string" contains
		// random data, it will result in
		// a crash. If it is NULL, it is OK.
		memset(&value, 0, sizeof(TestStructure));
		// SafeArrayGetElement() will return
		// a copy of the relevant element in
		// the structure. Hence it is important
		// that when "value" is no longer required,
		// its members be cleared. This is especially
		// so for members which point to allocated
		// memory (e.g. BSTRs).
		rgIndices[0] = i;
		SafeArrayGetElement
		(
			pSafeArrayOfTestStructure,
			rgIndices,
			(void FAR*)&value
		);

		printf ("TestStructure[%d].m_integer : [%d]\r\n", i, value.m_integer);
		printf ("TestStructure[%d].m_double  : [%f]\r\n", i, value.m_double);
		printf ("TestStructure[%d].m_string  : [%S]\r\n", i, value.m_string);
		// We clear the members of "value"
		// which includes the "m_string" BSTR member.
		spIRecordInfo -> RecordClear((PVOID)&value);
	}

	// Note that the input pointer to the SAFEARRAY,
	// i.e. "pSafeArrayOfTestStructure", must not
	// be destroyed. It is to be treated as READ-ONLY.
	// By the way, the owner of this SAFEARRAY is
	// the Interop Marshaler and it will destroy it
	// when this API returns to managed code.
	//::SafeArrayDestroy(pSafeArrayOfTestStructure);
	//pSafeArrayOfTestStructure = NULL;
}

The following is a general synopsis of this function :

  • It uses the SafeArrayGetVartype() Windows API to determine the Variant Type of the elements stored inside the SAFEARRAY.
  • This Variant Type must turn out to be VT_RECORD.
  • It then uses the SafeArrayGetRecordInfo() API to obtain a pointer to the IRecordInfo interface associated with the UDT contained inside the SAFEARRAY.
  • The IRecordInfo interface is then used to obtain the GUID of the UDT.
  • This GUID is then checked to ensure that it matches that for TestStructure.
  • The SafeArrayGetLBound() and SafeArrayGetUBound() APIs are then used to determine the number of elements contained inside the array.
  • The function then loops through the elements of the array and displays the field values of each TestStructure.
  • There are two very important memory-related activities performed as part of this loop : the clearing of a TestStructure struct before it is used to obtain a copy of an element of the SAFEARRAY and the memory clearance of the same structure when it is no longer needed.
  • These will be explained in their own sections below later on (see sections 7 and 8).
  • Then finally, before the function finishes, make sure that the input SAFEARRAY is not destroyed with a call to SafeArrayDestroy(). I shall also explain this in greater detail in a separate section (section 9).

6. Example C# Call to SetArrayOfTestStructure().

6.1  The following shows how the SetArrayOfTestStructure() API should be declared in a C# program :

[DllImport("UnmanagedDll.dll", CallingConvention = CallingConvention.StdCall)]
private static extern void SetArrayOfTestStructure
(
  [In] [MarshalAs(UnmanagedType.SafeArray, SafeArraySubType = VarEnum.VT_RECORD)]
  TestStructure[] SafeArrayOfTestStructure
);

The parameter to this function is a managed array of TestStructure structs. We are now working in C# code and so, at this level, we must work with managed arrays.

Now note the use of the various attributes :

  • The InAttribute is used to indicate to the interop marshaler that the “SafeArrayOfTestStructure” parameter is to be marshaled single-directionally “into” the function.
  • This also indicates to the interop marshaler that whatever form the “SafeArrayOfTestStructure” parameter takes when it enters the unmanaged function, it will be treated as read-only by the function.
  • The MarshalAsAttribute is used to indicate to the interop marshaler that the “SafeArrayOfTestStructure” parameter is to be marshaled as a SAFEARRAY.
  • Furthermore, the “SafeArraySubType” field for the MarshalAsAttribute, being equal to “VarEnum.VT_RECORD”, indicates to the interop marshaler that the SAFEARRAY must contain UDTs.

6.2 The following is a sample C# function that makes a call to SetArrayOfTestStructure() :

static void DoTest_SetArrayOfTestStructure()
{
    TestStructure[] SafeArrayOfTestStructure = new TestStructure[10];

    for (int i = 0; i < SafeArrayOfTestStructure.Length; i++)
    {
        SafeArrayOfTestStructure[i].m_integer = i;
        SafeArrayOfTestStructure[i].m_double = (double)i;
        SafeArrayOfTestStructure[i].m_string = string.Format("Hello World [{0}]", i);
    }

    SetArrayOfTestStructure(SafeArrayOfTestStructure);
}

The following is a synopsis :

  • It allocates a managed array of 10 TestStructure structures.
  • It loops through the elements of the array and assigns simple field values to each.
  • It then calls the SetArrayOfTestStructure() API, passing the array as parameter.

6.3 What happens under the covers when the managed array “SafeArrayOfTestStructure” gets passed to the SetArrayOfTestStructure() API is that the interop marshaler will internally create a SAFEARRAY and fill it with UDTs each of which matches a corresponding managed TestStructure structure inside “SafeArrayOfTestStructure”.

6.4 The interop marshaler is also able to dynamically generate a COM IRecordInfo object that will be associated with the UDT-equivalent of TestStructure. A pointer to the IRecordInfo interface of this object will be referenced inside the SAFEARRAY.

6.5 A pointer to the SAFEARRAY is then passed to the SetArrayOfTestStructure() API as an “in” (read-only) parameter.

6.6 More about this SAFEARRAY will be expounded in the next few sections which serve as important advisories.

6.7 At runtime, the C# function DoTest_SetArrayOfTestStructure(), in conjunction with the call to SetArrayOfTestStructure(), will produce the following expected output :

TestStructure[1].m_double  : [1.000000]
TestStructure[1].m_string  : [Hello World [1]]
TestStructure[2].m_integer : [2]
TestStructure[2].m_double  : [2.000000]
TestStructure[2].m_string  : [Hello World [2]]
TestStructure[3].m_integer : [3]
TestStructure[3].m_double  : [3.000000]
TestStructure[3].m_string  : [Hello World [3]]
TestStructure[4].m_integer : [4]
TestStructure[4].m_double  : [4.000000]
TestStructure[4].m_string  : [Hello World [4]]
TestStructure[5].m_integer : [5]
TestStructure[5].m_double  : [5.000000]
TestStructure[5].m_string  : [Hello World [5]]
TestStructure[6].m_integer : [6]
TestStructure[6].m_double  : [6.000000]
TestStructure[6].m_string  : [Hello World [6]]
TestStructure[7].m_integer : [7]
TestStructure[7].m_double  : [7.000000]
TestStructure[7].m_string  : [Hello World [7]]
TestStructure[8].m_integer : [8]
TestStructure[8].m_double  : [8.000000]
TestStructure[8].m_string  : [Hello World [8]]
TestStructure[9].m_integer : [9]
TestStructure[9].m_double  : [9.000000]
TestStructure[9].m_string  : [Hello World [9]]

6.8 For the purpose of this article, I have include the source codes for DoTest_SetArrayOfTestStructure() into the same C# console application CSConsoleApp which also contained the definition of TestStructure. The the main source file of this application (Program.cs) is listed below :

using System;
using System.Collections.Generic;
using System.Linq;
using System.Text;
using System.Runtime.InteropServices;

namespace CSConsoleApp
{
    [ComVisible(true)]
    [StructLayout(LayoutKind.Sequential, Pack = 1)]
    [Guid("1979BCD7-1062-44d8-B3FC-A2686C61E715")]
    public struct TestStructure
    {
        [MarshalAs(UnmanagedType.I4)]
        public Int32 m_integer;
        [MarshalAs(UnmanagedType.R8)]
        public double m_double;
        [MarshalAs(UnmanagedType.BStr)]
        public string m_string;
    }

    class Program
    {
        [DllImport("UnmanagedDll.dll", CallingConvention = CallingConvention.StdCall)]
        private static extern void SetArrayOfTestStructure
	(
		[In] [MarshalAs(UnmanagedType.SafeArray, SafeArraySubType = VarEnum.VT_RECORD)]
		TestStructure[] SafeArrayOfTestStructure
	);

        static void DoTest_SetArrayOfTestStructure()
        {
            TestStructure[] SafeArrayOfTestStructure = new TestStructure[10];

            for (int i = 0; i < SafeArrayOfTestStructure.Length; i++)
            {
                SafeArrayOfTestStructure[i].m_integer = i;
                SafeArrayOfTestStructure[i].m_double = (double)i;
                SafeArrayOfTestStructure[i].m_string = string.Format("Hello World [{0}]", i);
            }

            SetArrayOfTestStructure(SafeArrayOfTestStructure);
        }

        static void Main(string[] args)
        {
            DoTest_SetArrayOfTestStructure();
        }
    }
}

7. Always Clear the Contents of a Receiving UDT Before A Call To SafeArrayGetElement().

7.1 Before a call to SafeArrayGetElement(), always ensure that the contents of the structure (that is used to receive a copy of the UDT element inside the SAFEARRAY) is cleared.

7.2 This can be seen in the loop contained inside the SetArrayOfTestStructure() function as shown in point 5.3 :

		long rgIndices[1];
		TestStructure value;
		// Note that we must set all fields
		// inside "value" to zero.
		// This is important because
		// SafeArrayGetElement() will first
		// clear all members of value.
		// For the "m_string" BSTR member,
		// it will call the ::SysFreeString()
		// API. Now if "m_string" contains
		// random data, it will result in
		// a crash. If it is NULL, it is OK.
		memset(&value, 0, sizeof(TestStructure));
		// SafeArrayGetElement() will return
		// a copy of the relevant element in
		// the structure. Hence it is important
		// that when "value" is no longer required,
		// its members be cleared. This is especially
		// so for members which point to allocated
		// memory (e.g. BSTRs).
		rgIndices[0] = i;
		SafeArrayGetElement
		(
			pSafeArrayOfTestStructure,
			rgIndices,
			(void FAR*)&value
		);

Here the structure to receive a copy of a UDT is “value” (of type TestStructure) and we first clear it by using memset().

7.3 As mentioned in the comments, the SafeArrayGetElement() API will first clear all members of the receiving structure before assign them with copies from the fields of the corresponding structure inside the SAFEARRAY.

7.4 Hence any member which is a referenced type will first be released. For example, SysFreeString() will be called on a BSTR. If the BSTR member points to random data, the call to SysFreeString() will result in a crash. But if the BSTR member is set to zero, the call to SysFreeString() will go through fine.

8. Clear the UDT Copied From A SAFEARRAY When It Is No Longer Required.

8.1 Note that after a UDT has been copied from a SAFEARRAY via SafeArrayGetElement(), it needs to be cleared when no longer required.

8.2 This is because the UDT is a copy of its corresponding element from the SAFEARRAY. When the SAFEARRAY is destroyed, any UDT acquired through SafeArrayGetElement() is not automatically destroyed. It is, after all, a copy of one of the UDTs contained in the SAFEARRAY.

8.3 Hence always call IRecordInfo::RecordClear() on the UDT copy when it is no longer required as shown in the code of point 5.3 :

		// We clear the members of "value"
		// which includes the "m_string" BSTR member.
		spIRecordInfo -> RecordClear((PVOID)&value);

8.4 Alternatively, you may also manually perform the clearing by making explicit calls to clearance functions (e.g. SysFreeString() or IUnknown::Release()) on specific members.

8.5 Failure to do so will result in memory leakage.

9. Do Not Destroy An “In” SAFEARRAY.

9.1 SAFEARRAYs which are input as “in” parameters to a function must not be destroyed (e.g. via SafeArrayDestroy()).

9.2 In the case of the SetArrayOfTestStructure() API, the “pSafeArrayOfTestStructure” parameter is an “in” or read-only parameter. It remains owned by the caller which is the interop marshaler.

9.3 As such, SetArrayOfTestStructure() must not destroy it. It will be destroyed by the interop marshaler when the right time comes (i.e. when control returns to managed code).

10. In Conclusion.

10.1 Here in part 1 I have demonstrated a basic transfer ot a managed array of structures to unmanaged code.

10.2 The transfer is done through the use of a SAFEARRAY.

10.3 Important steps to ensure the receipt of a correct SAFEARRAY is shown through actual code (point 5.3).

10.4 Important advisories on memory safety are also discussed (sections 7, 8 and 9).

10.5 In the next installment of this series of articles, I shall demonstrate how to return a SAFEARRAY of UDTs from an unmanaged function which will be transformed into a managed array. 

 

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About Lim Bio Liong

I've been in software development for nearly 20 years specializing in C , COM and C#. It's truly an exicting time we live in, with so much resources at our disposal to gain and share knowledge. I hope my blog will serve a small part in this global knowledge sharing network. For many years now I've been deeply involved with C development work. However since circa 2010, my current work has required me to use more and more on C# with a particular focus on COM interop. I've also written several articles for CodeProject. However, in recent years I've concentrated my time more on helping others in the MSDN forums. Please feel free to leave a comment whenever you have any constructive criticism over any of my blog posts.

Discussion

5 thoughts on “Marshaling a SAFEARRAY of Managed Structures by P/Invoke Part 1.

  1. Hi Lim, I went through your post. I am trying something similar in my project.

    I am trying to marshal an array of structures of Strings from VB.NET (.Net 3.5) to VC++ DLL (VS 2008).

    (Operating System: Windows Server 2008 R2)

    (Although server is 64 bit, the code is compiled in 32 bit mode and we are using 32 bit libraries. The DLL is registered)

    Here is the VB.NET code:
    The structure:

    _
    Structure myStruct
    Dim someString As String
    End Structure

    The method declaration:

    Declare Function TCMTCRPILoad_resultsPull Lib “tcmpushpulls.dll” ( _
    ByVal outputBuffer As String, _
    ByRef tcRPIs() As mrshl_tcRPILoadData) As Short

    VC++ DLL:

    (This DLL is legacy code and is used in a lot of places, in the project, and I prefer not to make changes to it)

    int _stdcall getResults (LPCTSTR outputBuffer,
    SAFEARRAY ** abs)

    In the method body I use SAFEARRAY APIs to populate abs based on data in the outputBuffer

    The struct on the c++ side is:

    #pragma pack(push, 4)
    typedef struct
    {
    BSTR entry;
    } ResultsStruct;

    The invocation of the method in VB.NET is as follows:

    Dim myStructArray() As myStruct

    rc = getResults(outputBuffer, RPIAry)

    Here output buffer has valid data (string) at point of calling getResults [I checked by walking through debugger]

    On execution I get the following exception at the point of the invocation of the method

    An unhandled exception of type ‘System.ExecutionEngineException’ occured

    The execution stops and the VC++ code is not invoked.
    When I look at the Call Stack frame, I see the following error:

    ntdll.dll!77e5f8b1()
    [Frames below may be incorrect and/or missing, no symbols loaded for ntdll.dll]
    ntdll.dll!77e5f8b1()
    KernelBase.dll!77030a91()
    rpcrt4.dll!76c37fe0()
    rpcrt4.dll!76cd01a0()
    rpcrt4.dll!76cd0175()
    kernel32.dll!769314dd()
    > msvcr90.dll!free(void * pBlock=0x061529f0) Line 110 C
    ntdll.dll!77e5f8b1()
    KernelBase.dll!77030a91()
    rpcrt4.dll!76c37fe0()
    rpcrt4.dll!76cd01a0()
    rpcrt4.dll!76cd0175()
    kernel32.dll!769314dd()
    msvcr90.dll!free(void * pBlock=0x061529f0) Line 110 C
    tls9112d.dll!05ca8d46()
    tcmpushpulls.dll!06db6555()
    [Managed to Native Transition]

    Please let me know what I am doing incorrectly, and what is the direction of the solution?

    (a) Is the method marshaling incorrect ? i.e. UnmanagedType.SafeArray with SafeArraySubType:=VT_RECORD

    (b) Is the struct marshaling incorrect ?

    As mentioned the DLL is working fine, because back end jobs use the same DLLs

    So I must be doing some thing wrong in the VB.NET side.

    Thank you

    Santosh

    Posted by seshabhaktha | September 26, 2012, 4:32 am
    • Hello Santosh,

      1. There should be no problem marshaling myStruct in a SAFEARRAY.

      2. However, there are some pre-requisites that you need to fulfill :

      2.1 myStruct needs to be declared as ComVisible,

      2.2. The “someString” member has to be decorated with the MarshalAsAttribute indicating that it be marshaled as a BSTR, e.g. :

      2.3 The structure has to be decorated with the StructLayoutAttribute indicating that it is laid out in sequence. Furthermore, since it is to be used in C++ as being packed with 4-byte alignment, it is best to indicate this in the VB side.

      2.4 Hence a complete declaration for myStruct in VB.NET would be :

      _
      _
      Public Structure myStruct
      _
      Dim someString As String
      End Structure

      3. Your VB.NET application has to be Type Library Exported using TLBEXP.EXE :

      tlbexp .\bin\Debug\VBConsoleClient.exe

      3.1 This will produce a type library VBConsoleClient.tlb which will contain the proper definition for myStruct :

      typedef
      [
      uuid(EF8BA1C3-5409-39DC-884D-2CB50738D5C0), version(1.0) ,
      custom({0F21F359-AB84-41E8-9A78-36D110E6D2F9}, “VBConsoleClient.myStruct”)
      ]
      struct tagmyStruct
      {
      BSTR someString;
      } myStruct;

      3.2 Notice that a GUID will be generated by TLBEXP.EXE for the structure.

      3.3 This is v important because when you want to insert User-Defined Types (UDT), i.e. structures, inside a SAFEARRAY, the SAFEARRAY has to be created using SafeArrayCreateEx() with a pointer to an IRecordInfo interface passed as the last parameter.

      3.4 You must thus use the myStruct definition as declared in the Type Library and not define it yourself. To do this, you must #import the type library, e.g. :

      #import “VBConsoleClient.tlb” raw_interfaces_only

      3.5 In doing so, the definition of myStruct (togethr with its GUID) will be declared in the .TLH file :

      #pragma pack(push, 4)

      struct __declspec(uuid(“ef8ba1c3-5409-39dc-884d-2cb50738d5c0”))
      myStruct
      {
      BSTR someString;
      };

      #pragma pack(pop)

      3.6 You will need to create an instance of an IRecordInfo object using ITypeLib::GetTypeInfoOfGuid() and GetRecordInfoFromTypeInfo().

      4. Please make sure your have provided the above pre-requisites.

      – Bio.

      Posted by Lim Bio Liong | September 28, 2012, 6:02 am

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Pingback: Marshaling a SAFEARRAY of Managed Structures by P/Invoke Part 2. « limbioliong - February 29, 2012

  2. Pingback: Marshaling a SAFEARRAY of Managed Structures by P/Invoke Part 3. « limbioliong - March 1, 2012

  3. Pingback: Marshal variety of IntPtr and struct | CodersDiscuss.com - May 24, 2014

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