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Posted 29 Apr 2000

Introduction to WTL - Part 1

, 30 Apr 2001
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The 'what' and 'where do I get it' of WTL

What is the Windows Template Library you ask?

Brief history

In the beginning when ATL appeared, developers were happy. We had a way to write fast, small COM components. Well the happiness ended soon after when we found that we had to write code wrappers for any of the window's controls we wanted to use. So MS responded to our plight and gave us WTL, completely unfinished and unsupported (for now).

See WTL Documented for more information.


  • All the power of C++
  • Thin wrappers for the common controls
  • A small but functional Application framework (minus the ever-popular Document-View Architecture)
  • Print and Print Preview support
  • Ports of MFC’s CPoint, CRect, CSize, CString, etc.
  • New Message cracking Macros, conceivably they’re an upgrade of the existing ones.

All this but no documentation! Oh well, we're all professionals and can read code, so for now that will have to suffice.

Where do you get it?

Thanks to Nenad Stefanovic of the WTL development team we now have 2 methods of downloading the WTL source file (Special thanks to Shannon McCoy for pointing this out).

Method 1

Click here to download the WTL source files.

Method 2

Go and get the Platform SDKs.

WTL resides in the Platform SDKs. To find and install WTL you need to download the latest release of the Platform SDKs. In the screen seen below, Expand the Source code tree item and select the Windows Template Library for download.

So, you have the SDKs installed, your ready to go... well almost. Don’t forget to add the WTL include path to Developer Studio. To do that in Developer Studio go to Tools | Options and click on the 'Directories' tab. Once you are there simply add the include path to the 'Include files' list.

What’s in the box?

Let’s take a look at the goodies we got. The WTL is setup so that all the code resides in header files; it's setup this way so that we have full control of what is been tacked into your project.

The Headers

File name Description
atlapp.h Message loop, interfaces, general app stuff
atlcrack.h Message cracker macros atlctrls.h Standard and common control classes
atlctrlw.h Command bar class atlctrlx.h Bitmap button, check list view, and other controls
atlddx.h Data exchange for dialogs and windows
atldlgs.h Common dialog classes, property sheet and page classes
atlframe.h Frame window classes, MDI, update UI classes

DC classes, GDI object classes


ATL ports of CPoint, CRect, CSize, CString, etc.


Printing and print preview

atlres.h Standard resource Ids
atlscrl.h Scrollable windows
atlsplit.h Splitter windows
atluser.h Menu class

The Samples

Directory Description

Multithreaded notepad sample


ATL version of the MDI sample


ATL version of the GuidGen sample

The App-Wizard

File Name Description
AtlApp60.Awx ATL/WTL AppWizard

And of course there is a 'readme.txt', which outlines the class hierarchy of the WTL. Sorry, I said there was no documentation, my bad :)

Thats it! You got the WTL and your ready to go.

Ben Burnett


This article has no explicit license attached to it but may contain usage terms in the article text or the download files themselves. If in doubt please contact the author via the discussion board below.

A list of licenses authors might use can be found here


About the Author

Ben Burnett
Team Leader Farmer's Edge
Canada Canada
Ben was born in New Zealand and grew up in Mexico; however, he has lived in Canada for most of his adult life. He has traveled to a few places in Canada so far: British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and Nova Scotia, but has only ever lived in Alberta — all over Alberta. From Lethbridge to Calgary to Fort McMurray: he has seen most of what the province has to offer. He has also left the comfort of his—at the time—home country and gone abroad. In recent history he has been in China, New Zealand, the US, Central America and back to Canada (where he now resides).

He completed a degree at the University of Lethbridge, in Computer Science; worked for the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the Computer Sciences Department as a Systems Programmer for the Condor Research Project[^]; and is currently completing another degree at the University of Lethbridge, once again, in Computer Science.

Ben has been known to enjoy reading, watching movies, playing console games, and learning everything he can about computers. And, more importantly, with regards to his character: does not usually speaks about himself in the third person.

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Comments and Discussions

GeneralRe: Trouble downloading WTL (solved) Pin
Michael Fink5-Mar-01 3:00
memberMichael Fink5-Mar-01 3:00 
GeneralRe: Trouble downloading WTL (solved) Pin
Petr Prikryl5-Mar-01 23:58
memberPetr Prikryl5-Mar-01 23:58 
GeneralPoor Windows Programmers! Pin
Fabio29-Aug-00 12:25
sussFabio29-Aug-00 12:25 
GeneralRe: Poor Windows Programmers! Pin
JWright6-Oct-00 7:46
sussJWright6-Oct-00 7:46 
GeneralRe: Poor Windows Programmers! Pin
jhalsey11-Oct-00 13:41
sussjhalsey11-Oct-00 13:41 
GeneralRe: Poor Windows Programmers! Pin
jhalsey11-Oct-00 13:42
sussjhalsey11-Oct-00 13:42 
GeneralRe: Poor Windows Programmers! Pin
jhalsey11-Oct-00 13:43
sussjhalsey11-Oct-00 13:43 
GeneralRe: Poor Windows Programmers! Pin
JWright13-Oct-00 6:42
sussJWright13-Oct-00 6:42 
// StringsOfLife.cpp
// the point i was trying to make is that you don't
// have to use additional libraries to enjoy an
// easy life !!
// :-

#include <tchar.h>
#include <string>
#include <iostream>

typedef std::basic_string<tchar> CString;

int main(int argc, TCHAR* argv[])
CString strVal("Look no non-standard libraries!");

std::cout << strVal;

return 0;
GeneralRe: Poor Windows Programmers! Pin
Anonymous2-Nov-00 14:21
sussAnonymous2-Nov-00 14:21 
GeneralRe: Poor Windows Programmers! Pin
Fabio3-Nov-00 13:31
memberFabio3-Nov-00 13:31 
GeneralRe: Poor Windows Programmers! Pin
Crispy1-Apr-01 8:55
memberCrispy1-Apr-01 8:55 
GeneralRe: Poor Windows Programmers! Pin
S van Leent8-Jan-02 9:27
memberS van Leent8-Jan-02 9:27 
Generalassert(++critique != convaincant | réaliste) Pin
-o-m-24-Apr-01 9:19
member-o-m-24-Apr-01 9:19 
GeneralRe: Poor Windows Programmers! Pin
Anonymous8-Oct-01 18:55
memberAnonymous8-Oct-01 18:55 
GeneralRe: Poor Windows Programmers! Pin
Shannon McCoy16-Aug-02 0:27
sussShannon McCoy16-Aug-02 0:27 
GeneralRe: Poor Windows Programmers! Pin
Bill Dickinson25-Feb-03 12:01
memberBill Dickinson25-Feb-03 12:01 
GeneralWTL Download Pin
Franky Braem16-Jun-00 0:54
sussFranky Braem16-Jun-00 0:54 
GeneralRe: WTL Download Pin
takashi (in japan)27-Jul-00 18:54
susstakashi (in japan)27-Jul-00 18:54 
GeneralWTL support from MFC Pin
David Hubbard12-May-00 7:09
sussDavid Hubbard12-May-00 7:09 
GeneralDocumentation Pin
Ben Burnett4-May-00 7:41
sussBen Burnett4-May-00 7:41 
GeneralMicrosoft will not support WTL Pin
Alvaro Mendez4-May-00 7:16
sussAlvaro Mendez4-May-00 7:16 
GeneralWTL is the best thing MS has released in years! [Was: Microsoft will not support WTL] Pin
Carlos A. Ferarro Cavallini30-May-00 4:47
sussCarlos A. Ferarro Cavallini30-May-00 4:47 
GeneralThe cat's out of the bag Pin
cdr26-Jun-00 17:44
susscdr26-Jun-00 17:44 
GeneralThis article Pin
anonymous2-May-00 3:34
sussanonymous2-May-00 3:34 
GeneralRe: This article Pin
bajy2-May-00 19:51
sussbajy2-May-00 19:51 

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