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Hosting .exe applications into a dialog

, 9 May 2007 CPOL
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An article on launching and embeding .exe applications into a dialog-based application

Screenshot - hostexe.jpg


This is a simple application that will explain how to host or embed an .exe application into a dialog. The same application is available in C# here. But if we want to do this in Visual C++ 6.0, it is something different. I have searched for this on different sites and did not get it in Visual C++ 6.0, so I decided to do it myself.


The basic procedure for this is:

  1. Declare the two required variables
  2. Start the application using 'CreateProcess'
  3. Write a call-back function to get the HWND of the process window
  4. Set the parent of the .exe application
  5. Set the position of the window

Technical details

This program is an MFC Dialog-based application. The steps are outlined below:

Step 1: Declare two variables

You must first declare the following variables:

HWND apphwnd;
HANDLE handle;

Step 2: Start the application using 'CreateProcess'

Here is the function that will do this task and return the handle of the process:

    HANDLE StartNewProcess(LPCTSTR program, LPCTSTR args)
             HANDLE hProcess = NULL;
             PROCESS_INFORMATION processInfo;
             STARTUPINFO startupInfo;
             ::ZeroMemory(&startupInfo, sizeof(startupInfo));
             startupInfo.cb = sizeof(startupInfo);
                 if(::CreateProcess(program, (LPTSTR)args, 
                                    NULL,  // process security
                                    NULL,  // thread security
                                    FALSE, // no inheritance
                                    0,     // no startup flags
                                    NULL,  // no special environment
                                    NULL,  // default startup directory
                    { /* success */
                Sleep(5000);//wait for the window of exe application created
                ::EnumWindows(&EnumWindowsProc, processInfo.dwThreadId);
                     hProcess = processInfo.hProcess;
                    } /* success */
         return hProcess;//Return HANDLE of process.

Here we are starting the process using CreateProces. The WaitForInputIdle function enables a thread to suspend its execution until the specified process has finished its initialization. The EnumWindows function enumerates all top-level windows on the screen by passing the handle to each window and, in turn, to an application-defined callback function. EnumWindows continues until the last top-level window is enumerated or the callback function returns FALSE.

Our callback function will get the HWND of new the process window. The returned handle hprocess can then be used to terminate the process:


Step 3: Write a call-back function to get the HWND of the process window

This step is needed to find the HWND of our .exe application's window. We can use this window handle in different functions such as SetParent, MoveWindow, etc.

    int CALLBACK EnumWindowsProc(HWND hwnd, LPARAM param)
        DWORD pID;
        DWORD TpID = GetWindowThreadProcessId(hwnd, &pID);
            if (TpID == (DWORD)param)
                return false;
        return true;

The GetWindowThreadProcessId function retrieves the identifier of the thread that created the specified window. apphwnd is the window handle of the newly created window.

Step 4: Set the parent of the .exe application

Here we are setting the parent window of the .exe application's window. The parent should be our application.


If we need to, we can remove the title bar of the window by using the following:

::SetWindowLong(apphwnd, GWL_STYLE, WS_VISIBLE);

Step 5: Set the position of the window

This can be done with the code below:

CRect rect;
::MoveWindow(apphwnd, rect.left,,rect.right, rect.bottom, true);

GetClientRect will get the window size of our dialog. MoveWindow will position the .exe appplication's window inside our dialog.


Note that after calling StartNewProcess we should only do Steps 4 and 5, and these should be inside a function handler of our dialog-based program.


  • May 9, 2007 - Original version posted


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


About the Author

Sherin Iranimose
Software Developer
India India
By the way, I'm not workaholic. I'm just love to program. Smile | :)

Comments and Discussions

QuestionAny idea about hiding MS Paint before it is attached to dialog? [modified] Pinmemberrohitshinde19-Nov-14 0:39 
GeneralMy vote of 5 PinmemberFordXu7-Apr-13 17:58 
GeneralMy vote of 5 PinmemberKingsley Chu7-Feb-13 8:07 
QuestionHow to capture the App Wnd WM_CLOSE Message PinmemberMember 311992617-Aug-12 6:01 
AnswerRe: How to capture the App Wnd WM_CLOSE Message PinmemberRex_he17-Nov-13 17:54 
Generalclose application Pinmemberkip_chuko26-May-10 22:47 
GeneralSeems only work with SDI exe, does work with MDI Pinmemberfrank123129-Oct-08 8:30 
GeneralRe: Seems only work with SDI exe, does work with MDI Pinmemberfrank123129-Oct-08 8:34 
GeneralOpen any Program (*.exe) as dialog based window in our running program Pinmembertajasmtk5-Aug-08 2:35 
GeneralVC6 is not supported PinmemberPatLeCat11-Feb-08 22:09 
QuestionNot Able to Embed Other exe applications Pinmembergirish1239-Sep-07 6:36 
GeneralA slight bug PinmemberWalderMort29-Aug-07 14:54 
GeneralRe: A slight bug PinmemberSherin Iranimose29-Aug-07 17:06 
GeneralRe: A slight bug Pinmemberkartsam27-Jul-12 0:54 
Questionunable to control focus and window position of IE browser created by createProcess Pinmembersdittmer8-Aug-07 14:05 
GeneralRefresh fix Pinmemberntnass20-Jun-07 3:36 
GeneralCannot find window PinmemberPerry Zhu16-May-07 17:00 
GeneralRe: Cannot find window PinmemberPerry Zhu16-May-07 17:08 
GeneralVery Interesting Pinmember.dan.g.9-May-07 15:28 
GeneralRe: Very Interesting Pinmembervsherin9-May-07 19:26 
GeneralRe: Very Interesting PinmemberJustin Hallet11-May-07 7:06 
GeneralRe: Very Interesting PinmemberMagnus15-May-07 5:20 
GeneralRe: Very Interesting PinmemberMagnus15-May-07 22:22 
GeneralRe: Very Interesting Pinmemberfengerfafa200617-May-07 5:56 
GeneralRe: Very Interesting PinmemberSherin Iranimose14-Nov-07 1:57 
GeneralRe: Very Interesting Pinmemberanindya_sengupta22-Jun-11 23:45 

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