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Dialog Data Exchange in MFC

, 19 Jun 2006 CPOL
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Efficient mechanisms for transferring and validating data in a dialog box, through the DDX and DDV routines.

Introduction

The MFC framework provides an efficient mechanism for transferring and validating data in a dialog box through the DDX and DDV routines. Dialog Data Exchange (DDX) is an easy way to initialize the controls in a dialog box and gather data input by the user. Dialog Data Validation (DDV) is an easy way to validate data entry in a dialog box.

The framework calls CWnd::DoDataExchange to exchange and validate dialog data. When a class is derived from CDialog, you need to override this member function if you wish to utilize the framework's automatic data exchange and validation. An implementation of DoDataExchange is shown below:

void CDataExchangeDlg::DoDataExchange(CDataExchange* pDX)
{
    //should precede the DDX and DDV routines 
    CDialog::DoDataExchange(pDX);
    DDX_Text(pDX, IDC_EDIT1, m_strEdit);
    DDX_Check(pDX, IDC_CHECK1, m_bCheck);
}

It's to be noted that DoDataExchange is never called directly, it's called by the CWnd::UpdateData member function.

BOOL UpdateData( BOOL bSaveAndValidate = TRUE );

UpdateData is called to initialize data in a dialog box, or to retrieve and validate dialog data. The bSaveAndValidate flag indicates whether a dialog box is being initialized (set bSaveAndValidate = FALSE) or data is being retrieved (set bSaveAndValidate = TRUE).

//From wincore.cpp
BOOL CWnd::UpdateData(BOOL bSaveAndValidate)
{
    BOOL bOK = FALSE;       // assume failure
    TRY
    {
        DoDataExchange(&dx);
        bOK = TRUE;         // it worked
    }
    CATCH(CUserException, e)
    {
        // validation failed - user already alerted, fall through
        ASSERT(!bOK);
    }
    return bOK;
}

We see from the above that UpdateData() exists solely to create the data exchange object and to catch any exceptions and convert them into a boolean return value (where false indicates a failure in the exchange/validation process).

Let's have a look at the CDataExchange class declared in the afxwin.h, as well:

//CDataExchange - for data exchange and validation
class CDataExchange
{
public:
    // Attributes
    BOOL m_bSaveAndValidate;   // TRUE => save and validate data
    CWnd* m_pDlgWnd;           // container usually a dialog

    // Operations (for implementors of DDX and DDV procs)
    HWND PrepareCtrl(int nIDC);     
    HWND PrepareEditCtrl(int nIDC); 
    void Fail();               // will throw exception

    CDataExchange(CWnd* pDlgWnd, BOOL bSaveAndValidate);

    // Implementation
    UINT m_idLastControl;      // last control used (for validation)
    BOOL m_bEditLastControl;   // last control was an edit item
};

The m_bSaveAndValidate flag is the same as described above. Some other interesting members of the CDataExchange class are:

  • m_pDlgWnd: The window (usually a dialog) that contains the controls.
  • PrepareCtrl and PrepareEditCtrl: Prepares a dialog control for data exchange. Stores that control's handle for setting the focus if validation fails. PrepareCtrl is used for non-edit controls, and PrepareEditCtrl is used for edit controls. The PrepareEditCtrl first calls PrepareCtrl, and then sets m_bEditLastControl to TRUE. The reason to check whether the last control was an edit control is that the focus to the edit control is set by sending the EM_SETSEL message.
  • Fail: Called after bringing up a message box alerting the user to the input error. This routine will restore the focus to the last control (the last call to PrepareCtrl/PrepareEditCtrl) and throw an exception.

Dialog Data Exchange

MFC provides a library of transfer functions grouped under the heading of Dialog Data Exchange (DDX). One DDX function is defined for each type of control and each reasonable variable type. For example, the function to exchange data between an edit control and an integer variable is:

void AFXAPI DDX_Text(CDataExchange* pDX, int nIDC, int& value);

The CDataExchange parameter is used to hold context information during the exchange process. The ctrlID parameter holds the ID of an edit control, and value is a reference to a data member in the dialog class.

MFC overloads the DDX functions to handle parsing for different program variable types. For example, the DDX_Text() function has the following variations:

void AFXAPI DDX_Text(CDataExchange* pDX, int nIDC, BYTE& value);
void AFXAPI DDX_Text(CDataExchange* pDX, int nIDC, short& value);
void AFXAPI DDX_Text(CDataExchange* pDX, int nIDC, int& value);
void AFXAPI DDX_Text(CDataExchange* pDX, int nIDC, UINT& value);
void AFXAPI DDX_Text(CDataExchange* pDX, int nIDC, long& value);
void AFXAPI DDX_Text(CDataExchange* pDX, int nIDC, DWORD& value);
void AFXAPI DDX_Text(CDataExchange* pDX, int nIDC, LONGLONG& value);
void AFXAPI DDX_Text(CDataExchange* pDX, int nIDC, ULONGLONG& value);
void AFXAPI DDX_Text(CDataExchange* pDX, int nIDC, CString& value);
void AFXAPI DDX_Text(CDataExchange* pDX, int nIDC, LPTSTR value, int nMaxLen);
void AFXAPI DDX_Text(CDataExchange* pDX, int nIDC, float& value);
void AFXAPI DDX_Text(CDataExchange* pDX, int nIDC, double& value);
void AFXAPI DDX_Text(CDataExchange* pDX, int nIDC, COleCurrency& value);
void AFXAPI DDX_Text(CDataExchange* pDX, int nIDC, COleDateTime& value);
void AFXAPI DDX_Text(CDataExchange* pDX, int nIDC, GUID& value);
void AFXAPI DDX_Text(CDataExchange* pDX, int nIDC, DECIMAL& value);
void AFXAPI DDX_Text(CDataExchange* pDX, int nIDC, FILETIME& value);

MFC provides different DDX functions for different types of controls. For example, DDX_Check() works with check boxes, DDX_LBString() works with list boxes, etc. Look into afxdd_.h for all the available exchange and validation routines.

We can easily extend the DDX mechanism to work with new types. But before we do that, let's have a look at an implementation of DDX_Text(CDataExchange* pDX, int nIDC, CString& value) to understand how these routines work.

//From dlgdata.cpp
void AFXAPI DDX_Text(CDataExchange* pDX, int nIDC, CString& value)
{
    HWND hWndCtrl = pDX->PrepareEditCtrl(nIDC);
    if (pDX->m_bSaveAndValidate)
    {
        int nLen = ::GetWindowTextLength(hWndCtrl);
        ::GetWindowText(hWndCtrl, value.GetBufferSetLength(nLen), nLen+1);
        value.ReleaseBuffer();
    }
    else
    {
        AfxSetWindowText(hWndCtrl, value);
        //This is just a string helper function. 
        //It checks whether the text of the edit control
        //really changed, if yes then only it updates
        //its value, otherwise not (this helps reduce
        //the flash in the controls).
    }
}

The code is simple and self-explanatory. Following that, we can set our own custom DDX routines. The following checks whether the user entered something in the edit control or not:

void DDX_TextNotEmpty (CDataExchange* pDX, int nIDC, CString& value)
{
    HWND hWndCtrl = pDX->PrepareEditCtrl(nIDC);
    if (pDX->m_bSaveAndValidate)
    {
        int nLen = ::GetWindowTextLength(hWndCtrl);
        ::GetWindowText(hWndCtrl, value.GetBufferSetLength(nLen), nLen+1);
        value.ReleaseBuffer();
        if (value.IsEmpty ())
        {
            AfxMessageBox (_T("Enter something in the text field."), MB_ICONSTOP);
            pDX->Fail ();
            //Fail () sets the focus on to the edit control 
            //and throws an exception
        }
    }
    else
    {
        ::SetWindowText(hWndCtrl, value);
    }
}

Dialog Data Validation

In addition to providing transfer capabilities with dialog boxes, MFC also provides validation. Validation is the process of checking the values entered by the user against constraints. Example constraints could be to check whether a value is between the specified limits.

void CDataExchangeDlg::DoDataExchange(CDataExchange* pDX)
{
    //should precede the DDX and DDV routines 
    CDialog::DoDataExchange(pDX);
    DDX_Text(pDX, IDC_EDIT1, m_nAge);
    DDV_MinMaxInt(pDX, m_nAge, 18, 45);
    DDX_Check(pDX, IDC_CHECK1, m_bCheck);
}

The above code checks whether the value entered by the user lies between 18 and 45. If the value lies outside the specified limits, then the user is shown a message box to indicate the error, and Fail () is called (which sets the focus to the control and throws an exception). It's to be noted that a DDV routine for a given control must be called immediately after the DDX function for the same control (the reason being that, in case of a failure, the focus will be set to the offending control).

Like DDX routines, we can have our own custom DDV routines. The following checks whether the number is even or not.

void DDV_IsEven(CDataExchange* pDX, int value) 
{
    if (value % 2 != 0)
    {
        AfxMessageBox("Enter an even number.", MB_ICONSTOP);
        pDX->Fail();
    }
}

History

  • 19th June, 2006: Initial post

License

This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Code Project Open License (CPOL)

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About the Author

Hitesh Sharma

United States United States
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Comments and Discussions

 
Generalhi PinmemberKausalya Srinivasan30-Jul-08 20:32 
Generalnoob Pinmemberbuzz83sg20-Feb-08 22:32 
Generalerror C2065: 'DDV_MinMax' : undeclared identifier Pinmemberfranzissgmail3-Sep-06 17:03 
GeneralRe: error C2065: 'DDV_MinMax' : undeclared identifier Pinmemberhitesh_sharma4-Sep-06 0:25 
GeneralRe: error C2065: 'DDV_MinMax' : undeclared identifier Pinmemberfranzissgmail4-Sep-06 2:53 
GeneralDialog Data Exchange in MFC [modified] PinmemberRupesh Shivarkar27-Jun-06 20:38 
GeneralRe: Dialog Data Exchange in MFC Pinmemberhitesh_sharma28-Jun-06 0:49 
GeneralRe: Dialog Data Exchange in MFC PinmemberRupesh Shivarkar28-Jun-06 21:06 

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