Implicit Linking in VS .NET

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Implicit or load-time linking is the easier of the two techniques The required steps, using Microsoft Visual C++, are as follows 1 The functions in a new DLL are collected and built as a DLL, rather than, for example, a console application The build process constructs a LIB library file, which is a stub for the actual code This file should be placed in a common user library directory specified to the project The build process also constructs a DLL file that contains the executable image This file is typically placed in the same directory as the application that will use it, and the application loads the DLL during its initialization The current working directory is the secondary location, and the OS will next look in the system directory, the Windows directory, and the path specified with the PATH environment variable Take care to export the function interfaces in the DLL source, as described next
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The most significant change required to put a function into a DLL is to declare it to be exportable (UNIX and some other systems do not require this explicit step) This is achieved either by using a DEF file or, more simply, with Microsoft C, by using the _declspec (dllexport) storage modifier as follows: _declspec (dllexport) DWORD MyFunction ();
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The build process will then create a DLL file and a LIB file The LIB file is the stub library that should be linked with the calling program to satisfy the external references and to create the actual links to the DLL file at load time The calling or client program should declare that the function is to be imported by using the _declspec (dllimport) storage modifier A standard technique is to write the include file by using a preprocessor variable created by appending the Microsoft Visual C++ project name, in uppercase letters, with _EXPORTS One further definition is required If the calling (importing) client program is written in C++, __cplusplus is defined, and it is necessary to specify the C calling convention, using: extern "C"
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For example, if MyFunction is defined as part of a DLL build in project MyLibrary, the header file would contain: #if defined(MYLIBRARY_EXPORTS) #define LIBSPEC _declspec (dllexport) #elif defined(__cplusplus) #define LIBSPEC extern "C" _declspec (dllimport) #else #define LIBSPEC _declspec (dllimport) #endif LIBSPEC DWORD MyFunction ();
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Visual C++ automatically defines MYLIBRARY_EXPORTS when invoking the compiler within the MyLibrary DLL project A client project that uses the DLL does not define MYLIBRARY_EXPORTS, so the function name is imported from the library When building the calling program, specify the LIB file When executing the calling program, ensure that the DLL file is available to the calling program; this is frequently done by placing the DLL file in the same directory as the executable As mentioned previously, there is a set of DLL search rules that specify the order in which Windows searches for the specified DLL file as well as for all other DLLs or executables that the specified file requires, stopping with the first instance located The following standard search order is used for both explicit and implicit linking:
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The directory containing the loaded application The current directory, if different from the executable image directory The Windows system directory You can determine this path with GetSystemDirectory; normally its value is c:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM32 The 16-bit Windows system directory, which does not exist on 9x systems There is no function to obtain this path, and it is obsolete for our purposes The Windows directory (GetWindowsDirectory) Directories specified by the PATH environment variable, in the order in which they occur
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Note that the standard order can be modified, as explained in the Explicit Linking section For some additional detailed information on the search strategy, see http://msdnmicrosoftcom/library/default asp url=/library/en-us/dllproc/base/loadlibraryasp and the SetDllDirectory function, which was introduced with NT 51 (ie, XP) LoadLibraryEx, described in the next section, also alters the search strategy The standard search strategy is illustrated by the Utilities project on the book's Web site, and the utility functions, such as ReportError, are used by nearly every example project It is also possible to export and import variables as well as function entry points, although this capability is not illustrated in the examples
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