Creating and embedding message tables with the WDK/build.exe

Although message tables play an important role in Windows, their tool support has always be somewhat limited — at least compared to string tables, for which Visual Studio even provides a graphical editor.

When in comes to creating and embedding message tables into a binary built with the WDK, documentation is light. However, the WDK tool chain provides support for mc files and using it requires only a few steps.

1. Create a message file

Unsurprisingly, the first step is to write a message file — I will name it foobarmsg.mc. Here is an example file:

;
; The default is NTSTATUS -- but HRESULT works just as well.
;
MessageIdTypedef=HRESULT

SeverityNames=(
  Success=0x0
  Informational=0x1
  Warning=0x2
  Error=0x3
)

FacilityNames=(
  Interface=4
)

LanguageNames=(English=0x409:MSG00409)

;//--------------------------------------------------------------------
MessageId		= 0x9000
Severity		= Warning
Facility		= Interface
SymbolicName	= FOOBAR_E_WEIRDFAILURE
Language		= English
Some weird failure has occured.
.
Updating the SOURCES file

The message file must be compiled (done by mc.exe). If we include the mc file in the SOURCES macro, build.exe will arange this for us:

SOURCES=
	foobar.c 
	foobarmsg.mc

To tell mc where to place the result files (i.e. the header and the resources), the following two macros can be used in the SOURCES file:

PASS0_HEADERDIR=....include
PASS0_SOURCEDIR=obj$(BUILD_ALT_DIR)$(TARGET_DIRECTORY)

As the names of the macros suggest, mc.exe is run during pass 0 (i.e. before any sources are compiled) — therefore, it is no problem to include the generated header file (foobar.h) in the source files.

Updating the rc file

Assuming the project already includes a .rc file for versioning information, we can use this file and refer to the generated message table resources. At the end of your project’s rc file, include the following line:

#include "foobarmsg.rc"

That’s it. The resulting binary will contain a proper message table.

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About me

Johannes Passing, M.Sc., living in Berlin, Germany.

Besides his consulting work, Johannes mainly focusses on Win32, COM, and NT kernel mode development, along with Java and .Net. He also is the author of cfix, a C/C++ unit testing framework for Win32 and NT kernel mode, Visual Assert, a Visual Studio Unit Testing-AddIn, and NTrace, a dynamic function boundary tracing toolkit for Windows NT/x86 kernel/user mode code.

Contact Johannes: jpassing (at) acm org

Johannes' GPG fingerprint is BBB1 1769 B82D CD07 D90A 57E8 9FE1 D441 F7A0 1BB1.

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