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API - Simulate multithreading with WaitForMultipleObjects (eg. How ICQ monitors connection state)

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Submitted on: 1/25/2015 6:07:00 AM
By: John Galanopoulos (from psc cd)  
Level: Intermediate
User Rating: By 39 Users
Compatibility: VB 4.0 (32-bit), VB 5.0, VB 6.0, VB Script, ASP (Active Server Pages) , VBA MS Access, VBA MS Excel
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     In this article, we are going to see how to use WaitForSingleObject, WaitForMultipleObjects, RasConnectionNotification and many other commands with Visual Basic. We are also going to see how to monitor multiple events without the need of multithreading. I have included two examples : how to monitor when a shelled application has ended and how ICQ monitors connection state (that little flower that gets green when we dial-up and establish a connection). If you like it, post a comment. I ll be happy to read your thoughts or suggestions. (****** A Special "Thank you" goes to all of you who spent a few secs to rate this article :)

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Simulate multithreading with WaitForMultipleObjects

(eg. How ICQ monitors connection state)

I have used extensivly the event driven mechanism that Windows provide in many different programming aspects

(RDO, ADO, ODBC, Windows Sockets, Winlogon, mutexes, semaphores etc) and used WaitForSingleObject when

i was in need of an event monitor API command.

The WaitForSingleObject is located in kernel32.dll and waits until a specific event objects gets signaled or when a time limit is

reached. It accepts two parameters; a handle to the event object and a time-out interval.

** The main benefit of this function is that it uses no processor time while waiting for the object state

to become signaled or the time-out interval to elapse.

Here is the declaration :

Public Declare Function WaitForSingleObject Lib "kernel32" Alias "WaitForSingleObject" _

(ByVal hHandle As Long, ByVal dwMilliseconds As Long) As Long

Let's see an example of this command's usage :

In this example we are going to run the Windows calculator.

We will open this shelled process and we will monitor the process handle;

if it gets 0 then the process was ended.

Public Const WAIT_FAILED = &HFFFFFFFF 'Our WaitForSingleObject failed to wait and returned -1
Public Const WAIT_OBJECT_0 = &H0& 'The waitable object got signaled
Public Const WAIT_ABANDONED = &H80& 'We got out of the waitable object
Public Const WAIT_TIMEOUT = &H102& 'the interval we used, timed out.
Public Const STANDARD_RIGHTS_ALL = &H1F0000 'No special user rights needed to open this process

Public Declare Function OpenProcess Lib "kernel32" (ByVal dwDesiredAccess As Long, ByVal bInheritHandle As Long, ByVal dwProcessId As Long) As Long
Public Declare Function WaitForSingleObject Lib "kernel32" (ByVal hHandle As Long, ByVal dwMilliseconds As Long) As Long
Public Declare Function CloseHandle Lib "kernel32" (ByVal hObject As Long) As Long

Public Sub ShelledAPP()
Dim
shProcID As Long
Dim
hProcess As Long
Dim
WaitRet As Long

shProcID = Shell("calc.exe", vbNormalFocus)
hProcess = OpenProcess(STANDARD_RIGHTS_ALL, False, shProcID)

'This is the proper and optimized way to use the WaitForSingleObject function.

'I saw many programmers use the INFINITE constant as for the dwMilliseconds field.

'If dwMilliseconds is INFINITE, the function's time-out interval never elapses.

'That's wrong 'cause the program won't refresh thus giving the impression that is a hung application.

'In Windows XP specially you might see a popup screen informing you about this.

'The problem also appears when you apply WaitForSingleObject with INFINITE in an application that

'uses windows.

'Always use a reasonable number of milliseconds and always use DoEvents to refresh the program's message queue

Do
WaitRet = WaitForSingleObject(hProcess, 10) ' wait for 10ms to see if the hProcess was signaled
Select Case
WaitRet

Case WAIT_TIMEOUT 'The first case must always be WAIT_TIMEOUT 'cause it is the most used option
DoEvents 'until the shelled process terminates


Case
WAIT_FAILED or WAIT_ABANDONED
MsgBox "Wait failed or abandoned"
Exit Do

Case
WAIT_OBJECT_0 'The object got signaled so inform user and get out of the loop
MsgBox "The shelled application has ended"
Exit Do

End Select
Loop

Call CloseHandle(hProcess) 'Close the process handle
Call
CloseHandle(shProcID) 'Close the process id handle

DoEvents 'free any pending messages from the message queue


End Sub

Now what if we had to monitor two or more shelled applications? are we going to use multithreading?

I haven't yet implemented multithreading api in a vb.net project of mine but as you most know,

multithreading is lethal (basically for those who will implement the CreateThread API function) when used within Visual Basic 6 (or prior).

Crashes, unexpected terminations, exceptions and many other "beautifull" encounters are some of the experiences a programmer can get.

The answer comes from WaitForMultipleObjects API function which is also included in kernel32.dll

Here is the declaration :

Public Declare Function WaitForMultipleObjects Lib "kernel32" Alias "WaitForMultipleObjects" (ByVal nCount As Long, lpHandles As Long, ByVal bWaitAll As Long, ByVal dwMilliseconds As Long) As Long

it accepts four values :

nCount as the maximum number of events to monitor,

lpHandles as the array of different event handles (not multiple copies of the same one),

bWaitAll (True/False) True if it must return when the state of all objects is signaled,

False if it must return when the state of any one of these objects gets signaled,

dwMilliseconds as a maximum time-out interval

Like WaitForSingleObject, WaitForMultipleObjects can accept event handles of any of the following object types

in the lpHandles : Change notification, Console input, Waitable timmer, Event, Job, Mutex, Process, Semaphore

and Threads

In the following example we are going to try something else than monitoring multiple shelled apps;

Those of you that have ICQ installed, have noticed that "red flower" icon, placed on the system tray.

When you are not connected on the internet, ICQ makes this icon look like inactive.

Now when you connect, it suddently starts to get one by one of it's leaf green, meaning that it tries to

connect to it's main server and when the connection completes, the flower get's green.

How do they do it? I mean. do they have an IsConnected() function on a timer with some interval?

Definetly no!

What they do is take advantage of WaitForMultipleObjects with another function located in rasapi32.dll; RasConnectionNotification

The RasConnectionNotification function specifies an event object that the system sets to the signaled state when

a RAS connection is created or terminated.

The function accepts three values :

hrasconn as the handle to a RAS connection

hEvent as the handle to an event object

dwFlags as the type of event to receive notifications for (RASCN_Connection or RASCN_Disconnection)

Now we are going to use WaitForMultipleObjects to monitor both events

Public Const RASCN_Connection = &H1 'Our two flags
Public Const RASCN_Disconnection = &H2

Public Const WAIT_FAILED = &HFFFFFFFF
Public Const WAIT_OBJECT_0 = &H0&
Public Const WAIT_ABANDONED = &H80&
Public Const WAIT_TIMEOUT = &H102&

Public Type SECURITY_ATTRIBUTES
nLength As Long
lpSecurityDescriptor As Long
bInheritHandle As Long
End Type

Public Declare Function CreateEvent Lib "kernel32" Alias "CreateEventA" (lpEventAttributes As SECURITY_ATTRIBUTES, ByVal bManualReset As Long, ByVal bInitialState As Long, ByVal lpName As String) As Long
Public Declare Function RasConnectionNotification Lib "rasapi32.dll" Alias "RasConnectionNotificationA" (hRasConn As Long, ByVal hEvent As Long, ByVal dwFlags As Long) As Long
Public Declare Function WaitForMultipleObjects Lib "kernel32" (ByVal nCount As Long, lpHandles As Long, ByVal bWaitAll As Long, ByVal dwMilliseconds As Long) As Long
Public Declare Function ResetEvent Lib "kernel32" (ByVal hEvent As Long) As Long
Public Declare Function CloseHandle Lib "kernel32" (ByVal hObject As Long) As Long

Public Sub MonitorRASStatusAsync()

Dim hEvents(1) As Long 'Array of event handles. Since there are two events we'd like to monitor, i have already dimention it.
Dim RasNotif As Long
Dim WaitRet As Long
Dim sd As SECURITY_ATTRIBUTES
Dim hRasConn As Long

hRasConn = 0

'We are going to create and register two event objects with CreateEvent API function

'There aren't any special treated events that need any kind of security attributes so we just initialize the structure

With sd
.nLength = Len(sd) 'we pass the length of sd
.lpSecurityDescriptor = 0
.bInheritHandle = 0
End With

'We create the event by passing in CreateEvent any security attributes,

'we want to manually reset the event after it gets signaled,

'we also want it's initial state not signaled assuming that we don't have yet any connection to the internet,

'last but not least we give the event a name (RASStatusNotificationObject1)
hEvents(0) = CreateEvent(sd, True, False, "RASStatusNotificationObject1")
'If the returned value was zero, something went wrong so exit the sub

If hEvents(0) = 0 Then MsgBox "Couldn't assign an event handle": Exit Sub

'If we succesfully created the first event object we pass it to RasConnectionNotification

'with the flag RASCN_Connection so that this event will monitor for internet connection

RasNotif = RasConnectionNotification(ByVal hRasConn, hEvents(0), RASCN_Connection)
If RasNotif <> 0 Then MsgBox "Ras Notification failure": GoTo ras_TerminateEvent


'We create the second event object exactly like the first one

'but we name it RASStatusNotificationObject2

hEvents(1) = CreateEvent(sd, True, False, "RASStatusNotificationObject2")
If hEvents(1) = 0 Then MsgBox "Couldn't assign an event handle": Exit Sub

'If we succesfully created the second event object too, we pass it to RasConnectionNotification

'with the flag RASCN_Disconnection. This event will monitor for disconnection

RasNotif = RasConnectionNotification(ByVal hRasConn, hEvents(1), RASCN_Disconnection)
If RasNotif <> 0 Then MsgBox "Ras Notification failure": GoTo ras_TerminateEvent

'We then issue the loop

'Notice that we have put hEvents array to it's first array item.

'and we used False cause we want to get notifications

'when any of the two events occur.
Do
WaitRet = WaitForMultipleObjects(2, hEvents(0), False, 20)
Select Case WaitRet
Case WAIT_TIMEOUT
DoEvents

Case WAIT_FAILED Or WAIT_ABANDONED Or WAIT_ABANDONED + 1
GoTo ras_TerminateEvent

Case WAIT_OBJECT_0
MsgBox "Connected"
ResetEvent hEvents(0) 'Reset the event to avoid a second message box
DoEvents 'Free any pending messages

Case WAIT_OBJECT_0 + 1
MsgBox "Disconnected"
ResetEvent hEvents(1) 'Reset the event to place it in no signal state (Manual reset, remember?)
DoEvents

End Select

Loop

ras_TerminateEvent:

'Close all event handles

'For more than two events you could apply a For.. Next

Call CloseHandle(hEvents(1))
Call CloseHandle(hEvents(0))

DoEvents 'Free any pending messages from the application message queue


End Sub


Now imagine that you could monitor events from different objects like

a file or folder change, along with connection status, shelled applications,

multiple printer objects, different processes and threads etc etc etc.

(64 maximum event objects i think)

It will appear that you program is multithreading but the truth behind that, is

that you will be taking advantage of WaitForMultipleObjects internal

multithreading mechanism.

I hope i helped with this article, people.

Feel free to leave any comments or suggestions.

It will help all of us.

John Galanopoulos


Need Oracle tips? try here : http://aboutoracle.blogspot.com

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