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cfix Visual Assert Beta 3 released

A third beta release of Visual Assert is now available for download on www.visualassert.com. Visual Assert, in case you have not tried it yet, is an Add-In for Visual Studio that adds unit testing capabilities to the Visual C++ IDE: Based on the cfix unit testing framework, Visual Assert allows unit tests to be written, run, and debugged from within the IDE. Pretty much like Junit/Eclipse, TestDriven.Net or MSTest, but for real, native code – code written in C or C++. Continue »

cfix cfix 1.5.1 released

A new version of cfix, the unit testing framework for C and C++ on Windows, is now available on Sourceforge. Despite fixing several minor issues, the new version resolves the following two issues that were reported by users: Definiting multiple WinUnit fixtures with setup/teardown routines in a single .cpp file leads to a compilation error A thread handle is leaked during execution of a test (#2889511) Updated binaries and source code are available for download on Sourceforge. Continue »

Development LTCG issues with the WIN7/amd64 environment of WDK 7600

Now that Windows 7 is out, we all sooner or later have to upgrade to WDK 7600. I am still reluctant to move away from WDK 6000⁄6001 because of the dropped W2K support, but this is a different issue. However, as one cfix user who has obviously already adopted WDK 7600 kindly pointed out to me, linking a kernel mode unit test against cfix using WDK 7600 and the WIN7/amd64 environment fails reproducibly with the following error message: Continue »

Windows Mixing 32 and 64-bit components in a single MSI

Definetely one my pet peeves about Windows Installer is how it deals with instruction set architectures (ISAs). Looking at Windows NT history, supported ISAs have come (amd64, IA-64) and gone (Alpha, PowerPC, MIPS) – yet most of the time, there was more than one ISA being officially supported. Having to ship binaries for multiple ISAs therefore always has been on the agenda for many ISVs. Needless to say, supporting multiple ISAs requires special consideration when developing setup packages and providing separate packages – one for each ISA – has become common practice to approach this. Continue »

Windows Writing Data-Driven Custom Actions

Whenever Windows Installer’s built-in actions do not suffice to perform a specific task, a Custom Action needs to be written. Needless to say, Custom Actions, can be a bit tricky – not only can they be laborious to write and cumbersome to debug, they also run the risk of interfering with Windows Installer’s declarative, transactional way of performing installs. It is not really surprising that Windows Installer therefore more or less discourages the use of Custom Actions unless it is absolutely necessary. Continue »

cfix cfix studio Beta 2 to add support for EXE-based unit tests

N.B. cfix studio was the code name of what has become Visual Assert The biggest shortcoming of the current cfix studio version certainly is that it requires all tests be implemented in a DLL. Conceptually, keeping test cases separated from the remaining code certainly is a good idea – and implementing tests in a DLL is a way to accomplish this. However, there are many projects in which such separation is either not feasible or just too much effort. Continue »

Windows On Setup Bootstrap Loaders

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Almost two years ago, I wrote about how to create multi-language MSI packages. Although using transforms to internationalize an MSI package is a viable solution, one drawback of this approach is that it may require a bootstrap loader. While it is easy to say that a bootstrap loader is required and many high-profile setups do indeed use bootstrap loaders, bootstrap loaders do have their issues. They not only add complexity to the setup package, there actually are several reasons why a bootstrap loader-free setup may be preferrable. Continue »

Debugging Uniquely Identifying a Module's Build

It is common practice to embed a version resource (VS_VERSIONINFO) into PE images such as DLL and EXE files. While this resource mainly serves informational purposes, the version information is occasionaly used to perform certain checks, such as verifying the module’s suitability for a particular purpose. Under certain circumstances, however, this versioning information may be too imprecise: Versions are not necessarily incremented after each build, so it is possible that two copies of a module carry the same versioning information, yet differ significantly in their implementation. Continue »

Development RCW Reference Counting Rules != COM Reference Counting Rules

Avoiding COM object leaks in managed applications that make use of COM Interop can be a daunting task. While diligent tracking of COM object references and appropriate usage of Marshal.ReleaseComObject usually works fine, COM Interop is always good for surprises. Recently having been tracking down a COM object leak in a COM/.Net-Interop-centric application, I noticed that the CLR did not quite manage the reference count on my COM object as I expected it to do – more precisely, it incremented the referece count of a COM object when it was passed (from COM) as a method parameter to a callback implemented in . Continue »

cfix cfix 1.3.0 Released, Introducing WinUnit Compatibility

cfix 1.3, the latest version of the unit testing framework for C/C++ on Windows, has just been released. As announced in the last blog post, the major new feature of this release is WinUnit compatibility, i.e. the ability to recompile existing WinUnit test suites into cfix test suites without having to change a single line of code. To demonstrate that this compatibility indeed works, consider the following simple example: Continue »

Development Embracing WinUnit

Around two years ago, in early 2007, after having read about, having tried, and finally having dismissed numerous existing unit testing frameworks for C, I resigned and started thinking about creating a new unit testing framework. Having been accustomed to NUnit and JUnit, I found most frameworks clumsy to use – some “frameworks” like MinUnit are a joke, some frameworks like CUnit require lots of boilerplate code to be written, some frameworks only support C++ but not C, and some manage to combine the worst properties of them all (CppUnit). Continue »

Development Bryan Cantrill on Real-World Concurrency

Browsing through ACM Queue’s archives I came across the article Real-World Concurrency by Bryan Cantrill (who, by the way, is the inventor of DTrace) and Jeff Bonwick (Issue 5⁄2008). The article provides a nice summary of actual challenges and best practices for systems programming in a multithreaded/shared memory environment. Worth reading. Continue »

Development Working Around TlbImp's Cleverness

TlbImp, the .Net tool to create Interop assemblies from COM type libraries, contains an optimization that presumably aims at making the consumption of the Interop assembly easier, but ultimately is a nuisance. Consider the following IDL code: import "oaidl.idl"; import "ocidl.idl"; [ uuid( a657ef35-fea1-40ad-86d8-bb7b6085a0a3 ), version( 1.0 ) ] library Test { [ object, uuid( 84b2f017-b8fe-4c2c-87b8-0587b4bf5507 ), version( 1.0 ), oleautomation ] interface IFoo : IUnknown { HRESULT Foo(); } [ object, uuid( 13d950d6-beb3-4dd3-957b-88b0e5eb5e3f ), version( 1. Continue »

Development Stack Overflow: Not Convinced

Tomorrow, Stack Overflow is scheduled to go public. Being a long time reader of Jeff Atwood’s and Joel Spolsky’s blogs and essays, I was sceptical, yet interested in how this project would turn out. After all, although I have a strong tendency of favoring the usenet over Q&A web sites and forums, there was the possibility that given their audience, Stack Overflow could become a Q&A site that does not suck like just about all the other forums on the web. Continue »

Debugging Effective Leak Detection with the Debug CRT and Application Verifier

Programming memory leaks in C or C++ is easy. Even careful programming often cannot avoid the little mistakes that finally end up in your program having a memory leak. Thankfully, however, there are plenty of helpful tools that assist in finding leaks as early as possible. One especially helpful tool for leak detection is the debug CRT. Although the leak detection facilities provided by the debug CRT are not as far-reaching as those of, say, UMDH, using the debug CRT is probably the most friction-less way of identifying leaks. Continue »

Debugging Explicit Symbol Loading with dbghelp

When working with symbols, the default case is that you either analyze the current process, a concurrently running process or maybe even the kernel. dbghelp provides special support for these use cases and getting the right symbols to load is usually easy – having access to the process being analyzed, dbghelp can obtain the necessary module information by itself and will come up with the matching symbols. Things are not quite as easy when analyzing symbols for a process (or kernel) that is not running any more or executes on a different machine. Continue »

Debugging Fun with low level SEH

Most code that uses Structured Exception Handling does this with the help of the compiler, e.g. by using try/except/__finally. Still, it is possible to do everything by hand, i.e. to provide your own exception handlers and set up the exception registration records manually. However, as this entire topic is not documented very well, doing so opens room for all kind of surprises… Although more than 10 years old, the best article on this topic still seems to be Matt Pirtrek’s A Crash Course on the Depths of Win32™ Structured Exception Handling, which I assume you have read. Continue »

Kernel AuxKlibGetImageExportDirectory and forwarders

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One of the newer additions to the DDK is the aux_klib library, which, among others, offers the routine AuxKlibGetImageExportDirectory. As its name suggests, AuxKlibGetImageExportDirectory offers a handy way to obtain a pointer to the export directory of a kernel module. There is, however, one issue that – at least in my opinion – renders AuxKlibGetImageExportDirectory pretty much useless in most scenarios: Dealing with forwaders. The primary motivation to call AuxKlibGetImageExportDirectory is to either enumerate the exports of a module or to find a specific export. Continue »

Debugging Walking the stack of the current thread

StackWalk64 provides a convenient and platform-independent way to walk the stack of a thread. Although useful and powerful indeed, it is definitively one of the less trivial to use functions. The additional fact that the MSDN documentation for StackWalk64 is rather light does not make things easier. There is, however, a decent article on CodeProject covering the usage of StackWalk64. Although you can walk the stack of any thread using StackWalk64, this post only deals with walking the current thread’s stack. Continue »

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

  1. Create a message file Updating the SOURCES file Updating the rc file 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.
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