C++ Function Pointers Simplified!

18 10 2009

Background information
Pointer is a variable which holds the address of another variable. Where, function pointer is again a variable which holds the address of a function.

If you think pointers are evil, then function pointers must be Satan for you. 🙂 Well, is there any easy way to create function pointers from function prototype? Indeed, there is. Its the “BAT” technique. Never heard about it before? No problem. Its invented by me just now. After watching BatMan series from cartoon network.


The “BAT” technique is this –

  1. Put Bracket or parenthesis around the function name.
  2. Add Asterisk or star in-front of function name.
  3. Now Typedef it to create a new datatype. Means change the function name to new datatype name and add typedef infront of it.
  4. Now you can use the new function pointer datatype like ordinary variables.

For instance, Assume we want to make a function pointer for function – DWORD MyFunction( int a, int b).

1) Bracket
DWORD (MyFunction)( int a, int b);

2) Asterisk
DWORD (*MyFunction)( int a, int b);

3) Typedef
typedef DWORD (*MyFunctionPtr)( int a, int b);

Ah! you have created a function pointer – MyFunctionPtr for function type – ‘DWORD MyFunction( int a, int b)’
Now you can use it like any other variable in your code. For instance, just see the following code snippet with real world usage of function pointers.

// Callback function for progress notification.
bool NotifyProgress( int Percentage )
 // Display progress and return true to continue.
 return true;

// typedef function pointer.
typedef bool (*NotifyProgressPtr)( int Percentage );

// DVD Burning function with pointer to NotifyProgress
// to update progress.
void BurnDVD( NotifyProgressPtr FnPtr )
 for( int Progress = 0; Progress <= 100; ++Progress )
 // Call the function.

// Main function.
int _tmain(int argc, _TCHAR* argv[])
 // Ummm... Burn one DVD.
 BurnDVD( NotifyProgress );
 return 0;

Function pointers are not that much evil. Isn’t it? 😉

Targeted Audience – Beginners.

How to Set Dialog as TopMost Window?

11 10 2009

I always wondered about popularity of Winamp. It has rich custom drawn UI, which made it stand out of the crowd. Did you noticed its “Always on top” feature and wondered about how its implemented? Its time to reveal the secret – How winamp implemented that feature – Staying at the top?


You can use – SetWindowPos() with HWND_TOPMOST flag. Have a look at the code snippet.

void CRabbitDlg::OnSetTopmost()
    // Set window position to topmost window.
    ::SetWindowPos( GetSafeHwnd(),
                    0, 0, 0, 0,
                    SWP_NOMOVE | SWP_NOREDRAW | SWP_NOSIZE );

Single line of code. But wowing feature. isn’t it?

Targeted Audience – Beginners.

How to Watch this Pointer – The Wizards Way!

30 07 2009

How to watch the this pointer? Just add ‘this’ to watch window. Everyone does like that. Isn’t it? But how Visual C++ wizards watch ‘this’ pointer? 😉


The secret is, visual C++ compiler passes this pointer via ECX register. So add (ClassName*)(@ECX) to watch window will give you this pointer. Have a look at the screenshot.


Interesting, the internals of Visual C++. Isn’t it?

Targeted Audiance – Intermediate.

How to get the CPU Name String?

21 06 2009

While taking the System properties, you have noticed the processor name string. For instance, in my laptop it is – “Intel(R) Core(TM)2 Duo CPU     T5250  @ 1.50GHz“. Ever though about how to get this processor name string?

Image Courtesy – Wallpaper Mania.

You can use the function – __cpuid(), which generates the instruction – cpuid. Have a look at the code snippet. Code taken and modified from MSDN.

#include <iostream>
#include <intrin.h>

using namespace std;

int _tmain(int argc, _TCHAR* argv[])
    // Get extended ids.
    int CPUInfo[4] = {-1};
    __cpuid(CPUInfo, 0x80000000);
    unsigned int nExIds = CPUInfo[0];

    // Get the information associated with each extended ID.
    char CPUBrandString[0x40] = { 0 };
    for( unsigned int i=0x80000000; i<=nExIds; ++i)
        __cpuid(CPUInfo, i);

        // Interpret CPU brand string and cache information.
        if  (i == 0x80000002)
            memcpy( CPUBrandString,
        else if( i == 0x80000003 )
            memcpy( CPUBrandString + 16,
        else if( i == 0x80000004 )
            memcpy(CPUBrandString + 32, CPUInfo, sizeof(CPUInfo));

    cout << "Cpu String: " << CPUBrandString;

You can get a lot of information about cpu by using __cpuid. Have a look at the MSDN Documentation.

Targeted Audiance – Intermeidate.

How to Change the Display Orientation?

10 05 2009

Are you using Windows XP? Press Ctrl+Atl+DownArrow, and then Ctrl+Atl+UpArrow. The screen changes its orientation upside down. isn’t it? But how to turn the screen, upside down programmatically?

Image Courtesy – marieforleo.com

Get the current DEVMODE by calling –EnumDisplaySettings(). Then change orientation by setting DEVMODE.dmDisplayOrientation and calling ChangeDisplaySettings(). Have a look at the code snippet. Code taken from MSDN.

// Get current Device Mode.
DEVMODE DeviceMode = { 0 };
EnumDisplaySettings( NULL,
 &DeviceMode );

// Change display mode upside down.
DeviceMode.dmDisplayOrientation = DMDO_180;
ChangeDisplaySettings( &DeviceMode, 0 );

// Sleep for 10 seconds.
Sleep( 10000 );

// Change display mode back.
DeviceMode.dmDisplayOrientation = DMDO_DEFAULT;
ChangeDisplaySettings( &DeviceMode, 0 );

Be careful to restore the display orientation back. Or else 😉

Targeted Audiance – Intermeidate.

How to Delete Duplicate entries from STL containers?

16 04 2009

If you want to remove duplicate items, you can go for stl::set. But what to do if you want to delete duplicate data from other containers?

Picture Courtesy – Squidoo

You can use std::unique() algorithm to remove adjacent duplicate items. So at first, sort your data, then call std::unique(). Now all the duplicate data will be rearranged to end of container. Now delete the unwanted range of duplicate data. Have a look at code snippet below.

#include <vector>
#include <string>
#include <algorithm>

using namespace std;

int main(int argc, char* argv[])
    // Election list.
    vector<string> ElectionList;
    ElectionList.push_back( "Sam" );
    ElectionList.push_back( "John" );
    ElectionList.push_back( "Ron" );
    ElectionList.push_back( "Sam" );
    ElectionList.push_back( "John" );

    // Sort the list to make same items be together.
    sort( ElectionList.begin(), ElectionList.end());

    // Rearrange unique items to front.
    vector<string>::iterator Itr = unique(

    // Delete the duplicate range.
    ElectionList.erase( Itr, ElectionList.end());

Take care that std::unique() just removes the adjacent duplicate entries. It wont remove the entire duplicate entries present in the container. That’s why we need to sort the container at first, which will arrange all duplicate entries to adjacent  locations. 😉

Targeted Audience – Beginners.

How to Change the Icon of MFC application?

5 04 2009

When you create an MFC application, did you notice the icon of executable? Yes! its that same old icon. But I’ve seen other application with different icon. Well, how to set the icon of executable to give a new face for it? 😉

Image Courtesy – Flickr

The secret is, windows will choose the first icon present in executable as exe icon. By default for an MFC application, IDR_MAINFRAME will be the icon resource name and it have the lowest resource value – 128. Follow the steps to add an icon and make set it the first one in executable.

1. Import a new icon by using resource editor.


2. Let the icon be IDR_ICON1.
3. Now open resource.h and you can see, IDR_MAINFRAME which is the mfc icon, have lowest resource id.

4. Now edit the resource.h to make IDI_ICON1 as lowest resource id.

5. Now clean and build your application and check the application icon. Wow! its changed!!!

The point is, the icon should be the first icon in executable. You can set icon value even to zero. It will work!

Targeted Audiance – Intermediate.

How to measure Performance by using High Resolution Timer in Visual C++?

31 03 2009

Ever had a performance tweaking project? The first thing you need is a high resolution stop watch to measure performance of different code blocks. But is there a high resolution stop watch?


You can use QueryPerformanceCounter(). You can get the performance counter frequency – i.e. ticks per second by calling QueryPerformanceFrequency(). Have a look at the sample CStopWatch class.

// Stop watch class.
class CStopWatch
    // Constructor.
        // Ticks per second.
        QueryPerformanceFrequency( &liPerfFreq );

    // Start counter.
    void Start()
        liStart.QuadPart = 0;
        QueryPerformanceCounter( &liStart );

    // Stop counter.
    void Stop()
        liEnd.QuadPart = 0;
        QueryPerformanceCounter( &liEnd );

    // Get duration.
    long double GetDuration()
        return ( liEnd.QuadPart - liStart.QuadPart) /
                long double( liPerfFreq.QuadPart );

    LARGE_INTEGER liStart;
    LARGE_INTEGER liPerfFreq;

int main()
    // Stop watch object.
    CStopWatch timer;

    // Start timer.

    // ZZzzzzz... for few seconds.
    Sleep( 3000 );

    // Get the duration. Duration is in seconds.
    long double duration = timer.GetDuration();

    return 0;

Even if the sample app slept for 3 seconds, in high resolution timer, the duration is 2.9xxx seconds. 😉 Can you guess why?

Targeted Audiance – Intermediate.

How to share data between different instance of same DLL?

4 05 2008

Usually Dlls are loaded into its corresponding process address space. Indeed the code is shared between all instances but not the global data. So the issue that we might face is – how can we share common data between all dll instances?

You’ve to declare your own shared data segment in your dll. You can use #pragma data_seg() to declare your own data segment. See the sample code snippet below.

#pragma data_seg (".MYSEG")
    int g_nInteger = 0;
    char g_szString[] = "hello world";
#pragma data_seg()

// Tell the linker that the section
// .MYSEG is readable, writable and is shared.
#pragma comment(linker, "/SECTION:.MYSEG,RWS")

Here we are declaring our data segment and are telling that, this segment is RWS – readable, writable and shared. This way we manage to share this data segment between all dll instances.

Targeted Audience – Intermediate.

How to set title for your console application window.

3 05 2008

In huge frameworks, there might be a number of back-end servers running. Since they are servers most of them might be implemented as windows console applications to avoid gui overheads. But when you run the console, the title of the console window will be the path of console.exe.

Since there can be multiple console applications, One of the headache is to identify which console window is the server you are searching for? Usually we print logs in console such as “Image Server Started…” to identify which server it is. It will be nice, if we can set the console window title our own. So that we can easly identify the server application.

You can use the function – SetConsoleTitle(). Its straight forward. Just call the function by passing the preferred console title. See the code snippet below.

int main(int argc, char* argv[])
    // Set the console title of my Image Server.
    SetConsoleTitle( "Image Server." );

    // Let me see the result.
    return 0;

The SetConsoleTitle() is declared in wincon.h. But you just include windows.h which includes everything. 😉

Targeted Audience – Beginners.