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Question regarding string handling and DLL calls.

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Peter Maxwell
Peter Maxwell 2011.11.17 04:41 

Can someone please clarify how string arguments are handled when calling DLL functions:

i) From what I can tell they are passed in the form of wchar_t *, in other words a pointer to a string of 16-bit wide characters.  Is there any native - in other words a function call or macro in MQL5 - to way to pass UTF-8 (multibyte) strings (it's not a massive problem as one can convert in the DLL, it would just be cleaner in certain instances)?

ii) If wanting to return a string of undetermined length from a DLL function call, what is the canonical method to go about it?

ii) a) Is it possible to return a "string" as a function result and would MQL5 free that memory (or would I need to code the DLL in such a way that it keeps state and cleans up after itself)?

ii) b) If wanting to alter a string that was passed as an argument, I assume it is impossible to resize the string?  In this instance, does the MQL5 programmer have to pass a suitably large string to accommodate all possible uses?

ii) c) Does MQL5 have any calls that will free an area of memory, i.e. can we return a pointer-to-a-pointer then free once used?

The reason I ask is that I need to pass a fair number of strings back from a DLL and the only (safe) method I can think of right now is to create a large string in MQL5 and alter that in the DLL, even then I don't know if I shorten the string whether it will cause problems by shifting the null-terminator.

I feel this is one instance where MQL5 being "like" C++ is a problem, as interacting with external libraries will invariably require more low-level functionality that is just not available, e.g. proper pointers and not some abstraction thereof.

Peter Maxwell
Peter Maxwell 2011.11.18 08:49  

Ah, excellent, thanks Rosh - the conversion functions seem to answer (i), and will definitely help for calling third-party external DLLs.

Still not sure about (ii) though, as I had used that article for some basic guidance but they don't change the length of the string that is passed "by reference".

If I were to write a function in C++ of the following form (please excuse rather poor style):

extern "C" __declspec(dllexport) char * __stdcall fnTest( int stringLength ) {

   char * buffer = new char[ stringLength ];

   ZeroMemory( buffer, stringLength );

   // ... some code here that puts a legitimate wide character string into buffer

   return( buffer );


Would that work?  Also, would MQL5 delete[] that memory, or would a subsequent call to the DLL be required?

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