Compile a DLL in C/C++, then call it from another program


Question

I want to make a simple, simple DLL which exports one or two functions, then try to call it from another program... Everywhere I've looked so far, is for complicated matters, different ways of linking things together, weird problems that I haven't even begun to realize exist yet... I just want to get started, by doing something like so:

Make a DLL which exports some functions, like,

int add2(int num){
   return num + 2;
}

int mult(int num1, int num2){
   int product;
   product = num1 * num2;
   return product;
}

I'm compiling with MinGW, I'd like to do this in C, but if there's any real differences doing it in C++, I'd like to know those also. I want to know how to load that DLL into another C (and C++) program, and then call those functions from it. My goal here, after playing around with DLLs for a bit, is to make a VB front-end for C(++) code, by loading DLLs into visual basic (I have visual studio 6, I just want to make some forms and events for the objects on those forms, which call the DLL).

I need to know how to call gcc (/g++) to make it create a DLL, but also how to write (/generate) an exports file... and what I can/cannot do in a DLL (like, can I take arguments by pointer/reference from the VB front-end? Can the DLL call a theoretical function in the front-end? Or have a function take a "function pointer" (I don't even know if that's possible) from VB and call it?) I'm fairly certain I can't pass a variant to the DLL...but that's all I know really.

update again

Okay, I figured out how to compile it with gcc, to make the dll I ran

gcc -c -DBUILD_DLL dll.c
gcc -shared -o mydll.dll dll.o -Wl,--out-implib,libmessage.a

and then I had another program load it and test the functions, and it worked great, thanks so much for the advice, but I tried loading it with VB6, like this

Public Declare Function add2 Lib "C:\c\dll\mydll.dll" (num As Integer) As Integer

then I just called add2(text1.text) from a form, but it gave me a runtime error:

"Can't find DLL entry point add2 in C:\c\dll\mydll.dll"

this is the code I compiled for the DLL:

#ifdef BUILD_DLL
#define EXPORT __declspec(dllexport)
#else
#define EXPORT __declspec(dllimport)
#endif

EXPORT int __stdcall add2(int num){
  return num + 2;
}

EXPORT int __stdcall mul(int num1, int num2){
  return num1 * num2;
}

calling it from the C program like this worked, though:

#include<stdio.h>
#include<windows.h>

int main(){

  HANDLE ldll;
  int (*add2)(int);
  int (*mul)(int,int);

  ldll = LoadLibrary("mydll.dll");
  if(ldll>(void*)HINSTANCE_ERROR){
    add2 = GetProcAddress(ldll, "add2");
    mul = GetProcAddress(ldll, "mul");
    printf("add2(3): %d\nmul(4,5): %d", add2(3), mul(4,5));
  } else {
    printf("ERROR.");
  }

}

any ideas?

solved it

To solve the previous problem, I just had to compile it like so:

gcc -c -DBUILD_DLL dll.c
gcc -shared -o mydll.dll dll.o -Wl,--add-stdcall-alias

and use this API call in VB6

Public Declare Function add2 Lib "C:\c\dll\mydll" _
    (ByVal num As Integer) As Integer

I learned not to forget to specify ByVal or ByRef explicitly--I was just getting back the address of the argument I passed, it looked like, -3048.

1
56
5/11/2009 11:27:16 AM

Accepted Answer

Regarding building a DLL using MinGW, here are some very brief instructions.

First, you need to mark your functions for export, so they can be used by callers of the DLL. To do this, modify them so they look like (for example)

__declspec( dllexport ) int add2(int num){
   return num + 2;
}

then, assuming your functions are in a file called funcs.c, you can compile them:

gcc -shared -o mylib.dll funcs.c

The -shared flag tells gcc to create a DLL.

To check if the DLL has actually exported the functions, get hold of the free Dependency Walker tool and use it to examine the DLL.

For a free IDE which will automate all the flags etc. needed to build DLLs, take a look at the excellent Code::Blocks, which works very well with MinGW.

Edit: For more details on this subject, see the article Creating a MinGW DLL for Use with Visual Basic on the MinGW Wiki.

24
7/29/2010 7:34:13 PM

Here is how you do it:

In .h

#ifdef BUILD_DLL
#define EXPORT __declspec(dllexport)
#else
#define EXPORT __declspec(dllimport)
#endif

extern "C" // Only if you are using C++ rather than C
{    
  EXPORT int __stdcall add2(int num);
  EXPORT int __stdcall mult(int num1, int num2);
}

in .cpp

extern "C" // Only if you are using C++ rather than C
{    
EXPORT int __stdcall add2(int num)
{
  return num + 2;
}


EXPORT int __stdcall mult(int num1, int num2)
{
  int product;
  product = num1 * num2;
  return product;
}
}

The macro tells your module (i.e your .cpp files) that they are providing the dll stuff to the outside world. People who incude your .h file want to import the same functions, so they sell EXPORT as telling the linker to import. You need to add BUILD_DLL to the project compile options, and you might want to rename it to something obviously specific to your project (in case a dll uses your dll).

You might also need to create a .def file to rename the functions and de-obfuscate the names (C/C++ mangles those names). This blog entry might be an interesting launching off point about that.

Loading your own custom dlls is just like loading system dlls. Just ensure that the DLL is on your system path. C:\windows\ or the working dir of your application are an easy place to put your dll.


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