Visual Studio 2005. Missing Attach To Process Option

30. September 2008 11:53 by Mrojas in General  //  Tags: , ,   //   Comments (0)

We found some machines that do not show the "Attach To Process" option.

This is very important for us, specially if you are testing the migration of an VB6 ActiveX EXE or ActiveX DLL to C#.

There is a bug reported by Microsoft

Just follow the Tool/Import Settings wizard to the end. Close and restart VS and the options will reapper.

 Also you might find that the Configuration Manager is not available to switch between Release and Build for example.

To fix this problem just go to Tools -> Options -> Projects and Solutions -> General... make sure the option "Show advanced build configurations" is checked.

TLBIMP SourceCode

30. September 2008 09:50 by Mrojas in General  //  Tags: , , , , , ,   //   Comments (0)


Have you ever wished to modify the way Visual Studio imported a COM Class. Well finally you can.

The Managed, Native, and COM Interop Team (wow what a name). It looks like the name of that goverment office in the Ironman movie.

Well this fine group of men, have release the source code of the TLBIMP tool. I'm more that happy for this.

I can know finally get why are some things imported the way they are.

You can dowload also the P/Invoke assistant. This assistant has a library of signatures so you can invoke any Windows API.


Extended WebBrowser Control Series:NewWindow2 Events in the C# WebBrowserControl

The WebBrowser control for .NET is just a wrapper for the IE ActiveX control. However this wrapper does not expose all the events that the IE ActiveX control exposes.

For example the ActiveX control has a NewWindow2 that you can use to intercept when a new window is gonna be created and you can even use the ppDisp variable to give a pointer to an IE ActiveX instance where you want the new window to be displayed.

So, our solution was to extend the WebBrowser control to make some of those events public.

In general the solution is the following:

  1. Create a new Class for your Event that extend any of the basic EventArgs classes.
  2. Add constructors and property accessor to the class
  3. Look at the IE Activex info and add the  DWebBrowserEvents2 and IWebBrowser2 COM interfaces. We need them to make our hooks.
  4. Create a WebBrowserExtendedEvents extending System.Runtime.InteropServices.StandardOleMarshalObject and DWebBrowserEvents2. We need this class to intercept the ActiveX events. Add methos for all the events that you want to intercept.
  5. Extend the WebBrowser control overriding the CreateSink and DetachSink methods, here is where the WebBrowserExtendedEvents class is used to make the conneciton.
  6. Add EventHandler for all the events.

And thats all.Here is the code. Just add it to a file like ExtendedWebBrowser.cs

using System;
using System.Windows.Forms;
using System.ComponentModel;
using System.Runtime.InteropServices;

    //First define a new EventArgs class to contain the newly exposed data
    public class NewWindow2EventArgs : CancelEventArgs

        object ppDisp;

        public object PPDisp
            get { return ppDisp; }
            set { ppDisp = value; }

        public NewWindow2EventArgs(ref object ppDisp, ref bool cancel)
            : base()
            this.ppDisp = ppDisp;
            this.Cancel = cancel;

    public class DocumentCompleteEventArgs : EventArgs
        private object ppDisp;
        private object url;

        public object PPDisp
            get { return ppDisp; }
            set { ppDisp = value; }

        public object Url
            get { return url; }
            set { url = value; }

       public DocumentCompleteEventArgs(object ppDisp,object url)
           this.ppDisp = ppDisp;
           this.url = url;


    public class CommandStateChangeEventArgs : EventArgs
        private long command;
        private bool enable;
        public CommandStateChangeEventArgs(long command, ref bool enable)
            this.command = command;
            this.enable = enable;

        public long Command
            get { return command; }
            set { command = value; }

        public bool Enable
            get { return enable; }
            set { enable = value; }

    //Extend the WebBrowser control
    public class ExtendedWebBrowser : WebBrowser
        AxHost.ConnectionPointCookie cookie;
        WebBrowserExtendedEvents events;

        //This method will be called to give you a chance to create your own event sink
        protected override void CreateSink()
            //MAKE SURE TO CALL THE BASE or the normal events won't fire
            events = new WebBrowserExtendedEvents(this);
            cookie = new AxHost.ConnectionPointCookie(this.ActiveXInstance, events, typeof(DWebBrowserEvents2));


        public object Application
                IWebBrowser2 axWebBrowser = this.ActiveXInstance as IWebBrowser2;
                if (axWebBrowser != null)
                    return axWebBrowser.Application;
                    return null;

        protected override void DetachSink()
            if (null != cookie)
                cookie = null;

        //This new event will fire for the NewWindow2
        public event EventHandler<NewWindow2EventArgs> NewWindow2;

        protected void OnNewWindow2(ref object ppDisp, ref bool cancel)
            EventHandler<NewWindow2EventArgs> h = NewWindow2;
            NewWindow2EventArgs args = new NewWindow2EventArgs(ref ppDisp, ref cancel);
            if (null != h)
                h(this, args);
            //Pass the cancellation chosen back out to the events
            //Pass the ppDisp chosen back out to the events
            cancel = args.Cancel;
            ppDisp = args.PPDisp;

        //This new event will fire for the DocumentComplete
        public event EventHandler<DocumentCompleteEventArgs> DocumentComplete;

        protected void OnDocumentComplete(object ppDisp, object url)
            EventHandler<DocumentCompleteEventArgs> h = DocumentComplete;
            DocumentCompleteEventArgs args = new DocumentCompleteEventArgs( ppDisp, url);
            if (null != h)
                h(this, args);
            //Pass the ppDisp chosen back out to the events
            ppDisp = args.PPDisp;
            //I think url is readonly

        //This new event will fire for the DocumentComplete
        public event EventHandler<CommandStateChangeEventArgs> CommandStateChange;

        protected void OnCommandStateChange(long command, ref bool enable)
            EventHandler<CommandStateChangeEventArgs> h = CommandStateChange;
            CommandStateChangeEventArgs args = new CommandStateChangeEventArgs(command, ref enable);
            if (null != h)
                h(this, args);

        //This class will capture events from the WebBrowser
        public class WebBrowserExtendedEvents : System.Runtime.InteropServices.StandardOleMarshalObject, DWebBrowserEvents2
            ExtendedWebBrowser _Browser;
            public WebBrowserExtendedEvents(ExtendedWebBrowser browser)
            { _Browser = browser; }

            //Implement whichever events you wish
            public void NewWindow2(ref object pDisp, ref bool cancel)
                _Browser.OnNewWindow2(ref pDisp, ref cancel);

            //Implement whichever events you wish
            public void DocumentComplete(object pDisp,ref object url)
                _Browser.OnDocumentComplete( pDisp, url);

            //Implement whichever events you wish
            public void CommandStateChange(long command, bool enable)
                _Browser.OnCommandStateChange( command,  ref enable);

        [ComImport, Guid("34A715A0-6587-11D0-924A-0020AFC7AC4D"), InterfaceType(ComInterfaceType.InterfaceIsIDispatch), TypeLibType(TypeLibTypeFlags.FHidden)]
        public interface DWebBrowserEvents2
            void CommandStateChange([In] long command, [In] bool enable);
            void DocumentComplete([In, MarshalAs(UnmanagedType.IDispatch)] object pDisp, [In] ref object URL);
            void NewWindow2([In, Out, MarshalAs(UnmanagedType.IDispatch)] ref object pDisp, [In, Out] ref bool cancel);

        [ComImport, Guid("D30C1661-CDAF-11d0-8A3E-00C04FC9E26E"), TypeLibType(TypeLibTypeFlags.FOleAutomation | TypeLibTypeFlags.FDual | TypeLibTypeFlags.FHidden)]
        public interface IWebBrowser2
            void GoBack();
            void GoForward();
            void GoHome();
            void GoSearch();
            void Navigate([In] string Url, [In] ref object flags, [In] ref object targetFrameName, [In] ref object postData, [In] ref object headers);
            void Refresh();
            void Refresh2([In] ref object level);
            void Stop();
            object Application { [return: MarshalAs(UnmanagedType.IDispatch)] get; }
            object Parent { [return: MarshalAs(UnmanagedType.IDispatch)] get; }
            object Container { [return: MarshalAs(UnmanagedType.IDispatch)] get; }
            object Document { [return: MarshalAs(UnmanagedType.IDispatch)] get; }
            bool TopLevelContainer { get; }
            string Type { get; }
            int Left { get; set; }
            int Top { get; set; }
            int Width { get; set; }
            int Height { get; set; }
            string LocationName { get; }
            string LocationURL { get; }
            bool Busy { get; }
            void Quit();
            void ClientToWindow(out int pcx, out int pcy);
            void PutProperty([In] string property, [In] object vtValue);
            object GetProperty([In] string property);
            string Name { get; }
            int HWND { get; }
            string FullName { get; }
            string Path { get; }
            bool Visible { get; set; }
            bool StatusBar { get; set; }
            string StatusText { get; set; }
            int ToolBar { get; set; }
            bool MenuBar { get; set; }
            bool FullScreen { get; set; }
            void Navigate2([In] ref object URL, [In] ref object flags, [In] ref object targetFrameName, [In] ref object postData, [In] ref object headers);
            void ShowBrowserBar([In] ref object pvaClsid, [In] ref object pvarShow, [In] ref object pvarSize);
            WebBrowserReadyState ReadyState { get; }
            bool Offline { get; set; }
            bool Silent { get; set; }
            bool RegisterAsBrowser { get; set; }
            bool RegisterAsDropTarget { get; set; }
            bool TheaterMode { get; set; }
            bool AddressBar { get; set; }
            bool Resizable { get; set; }

Using C# or VB.NET collection in your VB6 Applications

28. August 2008 05:34 by Mrojas in General  //  Tags: , , , ,   //   Comments (0)

If you have some .NET code that you want to share with VB6, COM has always been a nice option. You just add couple of ComVisible tags and that's all.


Collections can be a little tricky.

This is a simple example of how to expose your Collections To VB6.

Here I create an ArrayList descendant that you can use to expose your collections.
Just create a new C# class library project and add the code below.
Remember to check the Register for ComInterop setting.

using System;
using System.Collections.Generic;
using System.Text;
using System.Runtime.InteropServices;

namespace CollectionsInterop
    public interface IMyCollectionInterface 

        int Add(object value);
        void Clear();
        bool Contains(object value);
        int IndexOf(object value);
        void Insert(int index, object value);
        void Remove(object value);
        void RemoveAt(int index);

        System.Collections.IEnumerator GetEnumerator();
        object this[int index]

    public class VB6InteropArrayList : System.Collections.ArrayList, IMyCollectionInterface

        #region IMyCollectionInterface Members

        // COM friendly strong typed GetEnumerator

        public System.Collections.IEnumerator GetEnumerator()
            return base.GetEnumerator();


    /// <summary>
    /// Simple object for example 
    /// </summary>
    public class MyObject
        String value1 = "nulo";

        public String Value1
            get { return value1; }
            set { value1 = value; }
        String value2 = "nulo";

        public String Value2
            get { return value2; }
            set { value2 = value; }

To test this code you can use this VB6 code. Remember to add a reference to this class library.
Private Sub Form_Load()
    Dim simpleCollection As New CollectionsInterop.VB6InteropArrayList
    Dim value As New CollectionsInterop.MyObject
    value.Value1 = "Mi valor1"
    value.Value2 = "Autre valeur"
    simpleCollection.Add value
    For Each c In simpleCollection
      MsgBox value.Value1
End Sub

Natural Languages and Programming Languages

19. August 2008 09:36 by Mrojas in General  //  Tags: ,   //   Comments (0)

I am a firm believer in program understanding and in that our computer skills will allow us to develop programs that will understand programs and maybe in the future even write some of them :).

 I also belive that natural languages ans programming languages are two things with a lot in common.

These are just some ideas about this subject. 

"A language convertion translates one languate to another language, while a language-level upgrade moves an application from an older version of a language to a modern or more standardized version of that same language. In both cases, the goal is to improve portability and understanbility of an application and position that application for subsequent transformation", Legacy Systems, Transformation Strategies by  William M. Ulrich.

An natural language convertion is exactly that. Translating one language to another language.

Natural language processing and transformation have a lot in common with automated source code migration. There is a lot of grammar studies on both areas, and a lot of common algorithms.

I keep quoting:

"Comparing artificial language and natural language it is very helpful to our understanding of semantics of programming languages since programming languages are artificial. We can see much similarity between these two kinds of languages:

Both of them must explain "given'" languages.
The goal of research on semantics of programming languages is the same as that of natural language: explanation of the meanings of given language. This is unavoidable for natural language but undesirable for programming language. The latter one has often led to post-design analysis of the semantics of programming languages wherein the syntax and informal meaning of the language is treated as given( such as PL/I, Fortran and C ). Then the research on the semantics is to understand the semantics of the language in another way or to sort out anomalies, ommisions, or defects in the given semantics-which hasn't had much impact on the language design. We have another kind of programming languages that have formal definitions, such as Pascal, Ada, SML. The given semantics allow this kind of programming language to be more robust than the previous ones.

Both of them separate "syntax'" and "semantics'".
Despite these similarities, the difference between the studies of natural and artificial language is profound. First of all, natural language existed for thousands of years, nobody knows who designed the language; but artificial languages are synthesized by logicians and computer scientists to meet some specific design criteria. Thus, `` the most basic characteritic of the distinction is the fact that an artificial language can be fully circumscribed and studied in its entirety.''

We already have developed a mature system for SYNTAX. In 1950's, linguist Chomsky first proposed formal language theory for English, thus came up with Formal Language Theory, Grammar, Regular Grammar, CFG etc. The ``first'' application of this theory was to define syntax for Algol and to build parser for it. The landmarks in the development of formal language theory are: Knuth's  parser, and YACC-which is a successful and ``final''application of formal language theory.

from Cornell university
Jing Huang

I also will like to add a reference from an interesting work related to pattern recognition a technique used both in natural language processing (see for example and reverse engineering.
This work is from Francesca Arcelli and Claudia Raibulet from Italy and they are working with the NASA Automated Software EngineeringResearch Center


Scripting your applications in .NET

14. August 2008 16:48 by Mrojas in General  //  Tags: , , , , ,   //   Comments (0)

In VB6 it was very simple to add scripting capabilities to your application.
Just by using the Microsoft Script Control Library
You can still use this library in .NET just as Roy Osherove' Bloc show in

However there are some minor details that must be taken care of:

* Objects must be exposed thru COM (Add the [ComVisible(true)] attribute to the class
* Add the ComVisible(true) attribute to the AssemblyInfo file
* Make these objects public
* Recommended (put your calls to Eval or ExecuteStatement inside try-catch blocks).

And here's an example:

using System;
using System.Windows.Forms;
namespace ScriptingDotNetTest
    public partial class frmTestVBScript  : Form
        public int MyBackColor
            get { return System.Drawing.ColorTranslator.ToOle(this.BackColor); }
            set { this.BackColor = System.Drawing.ColorTranslator.FromOle(value); }
        MSScriptControl.ScriptControl sc = new MSScriptControl.ScriptControl();
        private void RunScript(Object eventSender, EventArgs eventArgs)
                sc.Language = "VbScript";
                sc.AddObject("myform", this, true);
                sc.ExecuteStatement("myform.MyBackColor = vbRed");
                MSScriptControl.IScriptControl iscriptControl = sc as MSScriptControl.IScriptControl;
                lblError.Text = "ERROR" + iscriptControl.Error.Description + " | Line of error: " + iscriptControl.Error.Line + " | Code error: " + iscriptControl.Error.Text;
        static void Main()
            Application.Run(new frmTestVBScript());

TIP: If you don find the reference in the COM tab, just browse to c:\windows\system32\msscript.ocx


Vb Migration (not for the weak of mind) Post 2

14. August 2008 05:50 by Mrojas in General  //  Tags: , , , ,   //   Comments (0)

When people decide to migrate their VB6 applications they eventually end up questioning where they should go. Is VB.NET or C# a good choice?

I have my personal preference, but my emphasis is in developing the technology to take where YOU want to go.

VB.NET is a VB dialect very similar to VB6. It supports several constructs and it makes the changes easier.
C# has several differences from VB6, but it has it a growing language with lots of enthusiasts in its community.
Obviously migrating VB6 to VB dialect is a task far more easier than migrating to a different language.
However we are a research company with years of work in this area and challenges is just what we love.

Let's use a methaphor here.

My beautiful wife, was born in Moscow, Russia. Like her, I really enjoy reading a good book. Some of my favorite authors are
russian authors like Dostoievsky, Tolstoi and Chejov. However I still do not speak russian. I have tried, and I will keep trying but
I still don't know russian. I have read only translations of their books, and I really enjoy them.
As a native speaker my wife always tells me, that it is not the same to read those books in another language besides russian.
And they are phrases (specially in Chejov books that I might not completely understand) but I really got the author
message and enjoyed it.
Translating a book from russian to a more similar language like Ucranian is easier than translating it to English or Spanish.
But I think everybody agrees that is a task than can be done.

You can use terrible works case scenarios, but these scenarios must be analized.
Let see (I took these example from the link in that Francesco put in my previous post

If you have code like this:

Sub CopyFiles(ByVal throwIfError As Boolean)
    If Not throwIfError Then On Error Resume Next
    Dim fso As New FileSystemObject
    fso.CopyFile "sourcefile1", "destfile1"
    fso.CopyFile "sourcefile2", "destfile2"
    fso.CopyFile "sourcefile3", "destfile3"
    ' seven more CopyFile method calls …
End Sub

and you translate it to:

void CopyFiles(bool throwIfError)
    Scripting.FileSystemObject fso = new Scripting.FileSystemObjectClass();
        fso.CopyFile("sourcefile1", "destfile1", true);
        if (throwIfError)
        fso.CopyFile("sourcefile1", "destfile1", true);
        if (throwIfError)
        fso.CopyFile("sourcefile1", "destfile1", true);
        if (throwIfError)
    // seven more try-catch blocks

I think that the russian is really keep in this translation.

First of all. When you do a translation, you should try to make it as native as possible. So why will you keep using a COM function when there is an
equivalent in .NET. So why not use System.IO.File.CopyFile("sourcefile1", "destfile1", true); instead?

Second of all. The On Error Resume Next, I agree is a not a natural statement in C#. I really think that using it could provide results that are less predictable.
Why? Becuase after executing it, are you sure that all the CopyFile occurred successfully? I would prefer wrapping the whole code inside a try-catch instead of trying
to provide an implementation that is not natural in C#, will Aspect Oriented programming provide a clean solution for this cases. Maybe?

RPG and COBOL to Object Oriented Programming, PowerBuilder to C#, Hierarquical Databases to Relational Databases are just the kind of challenges we have faced in our research project.
Not everything is easy, and we might not be able to automate all the tasks (commonly due to the cost of implementing the automation not becuase of feasability).

But at the end Could you understand the whole novel?, even if you didn't understand the joke in the one of the paragraphs in the page?

My years of reading make be belive that you can.


C# Console Applications and Ctrl-C

11. August 2008 09:41 by Mrojas in General  //  Tags: , , ,   //   Comments (0)

Console applications are still very useful for me.
I write like 125 console applications in the morning and like 4 or 5 in the afternoon.
In one of these applications that was running a long process I just started wandering:
what will happen with Lost? Will ABC ever finish this series?
And If someone presses Ctrl-C will I be able to catch it?
And indeed, the greate C# provides a very easi way to do it:

 static void Main(string[] args)
            Console.CancelKeyPress += 
            delegate(object sender, ConsoleCancelEventArgs e)
                Console.WriteLine("Process aborted by user!");
            //Long running process

VB Migration (not for the weak of mind)

7. August 2008 05:14 by Mrojas in General  //  Tags: , , , ,   //   Comments (0)


I hate to be disappointed. Specially if it is by a person you had respect for. And that's exactly what Francisco Balena from VB Migration Partner, has done. I have respected him for his books and all his VB6 experience. In terms of legacy VB6 code he is a monster. He is the man.

But in terms of code migration...

I'm not saying this because I work on code migration or maybe I'm biased a little by the fact that I work almost 10 years with a company that has done source code migration research on a big number of legacy languages such as COBOL, RPG, PL\1, Algol, Progress, PowerBuilder and also VB6.

I can tell the difference between a "compiler" and a system that rewrites a expression to the closest equivalent in the target language. We are aware of limitations. We are aware of paradigm differences and functional equivalence, but we talk from experience. We talk about our results. And we have proven those things we talk about.

 Let's says you create a Cobol Library with a "MOVE" function, and a COBOLPicture Type and add minus, divide, and add operators. And I write something like:

CobolPicture x = new CobolPicture("XXXX");



We have things like that, and it works. It's feasible and maybe there are cases where that is a solution. But we are also proud of have researchers that have been able to detect pattern to rewrite something like that like:

int x = 0;

x = 10;


And saying, that something is not possible just because you can't or you dont like it, just seem uneducated to me.

 All of this has motivated me to start a series of chapters I for a small blog book I will call VB Migration (not for the weak of mind).

For those of you, who really are tecnology savvy and are in the process of a VB Migration, this is YOUR book.

Migrating RDS CreateRecordSet in .NET

19. June 2008 06:24 by Mrojas in General  //  Tags: , ,   //   Comments (0)

This is way a discused with a friend for migrating a VB6 RDS CreateRecordset


Private Function Foo(rs As ADOR.Recordset) As Boolean
    On Error GoTo Failed
    Dim ColumnInfo(0 To 1), c0(0 To 3), c1(0 To 3)
    Dim auxVar As RDS.DataControl
    Set auxVar = New RDS.DataControl
    ColInfo(0) = Array("Value", CInt(201), CInt(1024), True)
    ColInfo(1) = Array("Name", CInt(129), CInt(255), True)
    Set rs = auxVar.CreateRecordSet(ColumnInfo)
    Foo = True
    Exit Function
    Foo = False
    Exit Function
End Function


According to MSDN the CreateRecordset function takes a Varriant array with definitions for the columns. This definitions are made up of four parts

Attribute Description
Name Name of the column header.
Type Integer of the data type.
Size Integer of the width in characters, regardless of data type.
Nullability Boolean value.
Scale (Optional) This optional attribute defines the scale for numeric fields. If this value is not specified, numeric values will be truncated to a scale of three. Precision is not affected, but the number of digits following the decimal point will be truncated to three.

So if we are going to migrate to System.Data.DataColumn we will used a type translation like the following (for now I’m just putting some simple cases)

Length Constant Number DataColumn Type
Fixed adTinyInt 16 typeof(byte)
Fixed adSmallInt 2 typeof(short)
Fixed adInteger 3 typeof(int)
Fixed adBigInt 20  
Fixed adUnsignedTinyInt 17  
Fixed adUnsignedSmallInt 18  
Fixed adUnsignedInt 19  
Fixed adUnsignedBigInt 21  
Fixed adSingle 4  
Fixed adDouble 5  
Fixed adCurrency 6  
Fixed adDecimal 14  
Fixed adNumeric 131  
Fixed adBoolean 11  
Fixed adError 10  
Fixed adGuid 72 typeof(System.Guid)
Fixed adDate 7 Typeof(System.DateTime)
Fixed adDBDate 133  
Fixed adDBTime 134  
Fixed adDBTimestamp 135  
Variable adBSTR 8  
Variable adChar 129 typeof(string)
Variable adVarChar 200 typeof(string)
Variable adLongVarChar 201 typeof(string)
Variable adWChar 130  
Variable adVarWChar 202  
Variable adLongVarWChar 203  
Variable adBinary 128  
Variable adVarBinary 204  
Variable adLongVarBinary 205  
So the final code can be something like this: private bool Foo(DataSet rs)




DataColumn dtCol1 = new DataColumn("Value",typeof(string));
dtCol1.AllowDBNull = true;
dtCol1.MaxLength = 1024;

DataColumn dtCol2 = new DataColumn("Name",typeof(string));

dtCol2.AllowDBNull = true;
dtCol2.MaxLength = 255;
DataTable dt = rs.Tables.Add();



return true;




return false;





My friend Esteban also told my that I can use C# 3 syntax and write something even cooler like:

DataColumn dtCol1 = new DataColumn()


ColumnName = "Value",

DataType = typeof (string),

AllowDBNull = true,

MaxLength = 1024