Knowledge base KB0201

How to use Windows subclassing when programming a .NET add-in

Problem

I have developed a .NET add-in for Microsoft Office which is using windows subclassing. My customers experience Office crashes when my add-in and another add-in (e.g., think-cell) are running.

Solution

This problem is often caused by subclassing with NativeWindow.AssignHandle / NativeWindow.ReleaseHandle.

Instead, follow Microsoft's recommendation to P/Invoke to Comctl32.dll's SetWindowSubclass and RemoveWindowSubclass, as described on this Microsoft Doc page. To make this change to your project, you can replace NativeWindow by thinkcell.SubclassedWindow.cs wherever NativeWindow is used for subclassing:

using System;
using System.Diagnostics;

namespace thinkcell
{

    internal enum BOOL : int
    {
        FALSE = 0,
        TRUE = 1,
    }

    internal static partial class ComCtl32
    {
        public delegate IntPtr SUBCLASSPROC(
            IntPtr hWnd,
            int msg,
            IntPtr wParam,
            IntPtr lParam,
            UIntPtr uIdSubclass,
            UIntPtr dwRefData
        );

        [System.Runtime.InteropServices.DllImport("comctl32.dll", ExactSpelling = true)]
        public static extern BOOL SetWindowSubclass(
            IntPtr hWnd,
            IntPtr pfnSubclass,
            UIntPtr uIdSubclass,
            UIntPtr dwRefData
        );

        [System.Runtime.InteropServices.DllImport("comctl32.dll", ExactSpelling = true)]
        public static extern BOOL RemoveWindowSubclass(
            IntPtr hWnd,
            IntPtr pfnSubclass,
            UIntPtr uIdSubclass
        );

        [System.Runtime.InteropServices.DllImport("comctl32.dll", ExactSpelling = true)]
        public static extern IntPtr DefSubclassProc(
            IntPtr hWnd,
            int msg,
            IntPtr wParam,
            IntPtr lParam
        );
    }

    class SubclassedWindow : MarshalByRefObject, System.Windows.Forms.IWin32Window
    {
        // prevents collection of SubclassedWindow that is still in use
        static private System.Collections.Generic.HashSet<SubclassedWindow> _instancesInUse = new System.Collections.Generic.HashSet();

        // The number of uses we still have for this instances:
        // - some window attached, or
        // - inside a window procedure
        private int _uses = 0;

        // Our window procedure delegate
        private ComCtl32.SUBCLASSPROC _windowProc;

        // The native handle for our delegate
        private IntPtr _windowProcHandle;

        static SubclassedWindow()
        {
            AppDomain.CurrentDomain.ProcessExit += OnShutdown;
        }

        public SubclassedWindow()
        {
            _windowProc = new ComCtl32.SUBCLASSPROC(Callback);
            _windowProcHandle = System.Runtime.InteropServices.Marshal.GetFunctionPointerForDelegate(_windowProc);
        }

        /// <summary>
        ///  Gets the handle for this window.
        /// </summary>
        public IntPtr Handle { get; private set; }

        /// <summary>
        ///  Assigns a handle to this <see cref="NativeWindow"/> instance.
        /// </summary>
        public void AssignHandle(IntPtr handle)
        {
            CheckReleased();
            Debug.Assert(handle != IntPtr.Zero, "handle is 0");

            if (0 == _uses)
            {
                lock(_instancesInUse)
                {
                    _instancesInUse.Add(this);
                }
            } // else may happen if handle gets reassigned inside WndProc.
            // This is legal after any call to DefWndProc.

            ++_uses;
            Handle = handle;

            ComCtl32.SetWindowSubclass(handle, _windowProcHandle, UIntPtr.Zero, UIntPtr.Zero);
            OnHandleChange();
        }

        /// <summary>
        ///  Window message callback method. Control arrives here when a window
        ///  message is sent to this Window. This method packages the window message
        ///  in a Message object and invokes the WndProc() method. A WM_NCDESTROY
        ///  message automatically causes the ReleaseHandle() method to be called.
        /// </summary>
        private IntPtr Callback(
            IntPtr hWnd,
            int msg,
            IntPtr wParam,
            IntPtr lParam,
            UIntPtr uIdSubclass,
            UIntPtr dwRefData
        )
        {
            Debug.Assert(0 < _uses);
            ++_uses;

            try
            {
                var m = System.Windows.Forms.Message.Create(hWnd, msg, wParam, lParam);
                WndProc(ref m);
                return m.Result;
            }
            catch (Exception e)
            {
                OnThreadException(e);
                return IntPtr.Zero;
            }
            finally
            {
                if (msg == 0x82/*WM_NCDESTROY*/ && Handle != IntPtr.Zero) {
                    InternalReleaseHandle();
                }
                if (0 == --_uses)
                {
                    lock (_instancesInUse)
                    {
                        _instancesInUse.Remove(this);
                    }
                }
            }
        }

        /// <summary>
        ///  Raises an exception if the window handle is not zero.
        /// </summary>
        private void CheckReleased()
        {
            if (Handle != IntPtr.Zero)
            {
                throw new InvalidOperationException("Window handle already exists.");
            }
        }

        /// <summary>
        ///  Invokes the default window procedure associated with this Window. It is
        ///  an error to call this method when the Handle property is zero.
        /// </summary>
        public void DefWndProc(ref System.Windows.Forms.Message m)
        {
            Debug.Assert(m.HWnd==Handle, "SubclassedWindow is not attached to the window m is addressed to.");
            m.Result = ComCtl32.DefSubclassProc(m.HWnd, m.Msg, m.WParam, m.LParam);
        }

        /// <summary>
        ///  Specifies a notification method that is called when the handle for a
        ///  window is changed.
        /// </summary>
        protected virtual void OnHandleChange()
        {
        }

        /// <summary>
        ///  On class load, we connect an event to Application to let us know when
        ///  the process or domain terminates.  When this happens, we attempt to
        ///  clear our window class cache.  We cannot destroy windows (because we don't
        ///  have access to their thread), and we cannot unregister window classes
        ///  (because the classes are in use by the windows we can't destroy).  Instead,
        ///  we move the class and window procs to DefWndProc
        /// </summary>
        [System.Runtime.ConstrainedExecution.PrePrepareMethod]
        private static void OnShutdown(object sender, EventArgs e)
        {
            // No lock because access here should be race-free, no concurrent SubclassedWindow.AttachHandle/ReleaseHandle
            // should happen while shutting down.
            Debug.Assert(0 == _instancesInUse.Count);
        }

        /// <summary>
        ///  When overridden in a derived class, manages an unhandled thread exception.
        /// </summary>
        protected virtual void OnThreadException(Exception e)
        {
        }

        private void InternalReleaseHandle()
        {
            Debug.Assert(Handle != IntPtr.Zero);
            ComCtl32.RemoveWindowSubclass(Handle, _windowProcHandle, UIntPtr.Zero);
            Handle = IntPtr.Zero;
            OnHandleChange();
            --_uses;
        }

        /// <summary>
        ///  Releases the handle associated with this window.
        /// </summary>
        public void ReleaseHandle()
        {
            if (Handle != IntPtr.Zero) {
                InternalReleaseHandle();
                if (0 == _uses)
                {
                    lock (_instancesInUse)
                    {
                        _instancesInUse.Remove(this);
                    }
                }
            }
        }

        /// <summary>
        ///  Invokes the default window procedure associated with this window.
        /// </summary>
        protected virtual void WndProc(ref System.Windows.Forms.Message m)
        {
            DefWndProc(ref m);
        }
    }
}

Download SubclassedWindow.cs

Limitations:

  • The original NativeWindow can also create windows, but this is rarely used in combination with subclassing in the same instance of NativeWindow.
  • thinkcell.SubclassedWindow is not thread-safe, but subclassing and message processing usually happen on the same thread.

Please let us know if you have any trouble using thinkcell.SubclassWindow.

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