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Articles / Desktop Programming / MFC
Posted 10 Nov 2003


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Simple update check function

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10 Nov 2003CPOL3 min read
An aasy way to implement an online Update-check to your application


Almost all programs that are available today have a feature that checks for software updates using the internet. This is a convenient way for both the user and the developer: You don't have to contact all the users (if you know them...) when a new version is available. And the user can be sure to always have the newest version.

In this article I'd like to focus on small programs (e.g. only 1 executable and no nescessary installation program) and developers who have just a simple web space without the possibility to use scripts (only static web pages). Also this code only shows a web page and does not automatically download or install files.

The basic thing we have to do is very simple: Connect to a web site, ask for the newest version, compare it to the current version, and in case there is an update ask the user to download it. You - as the developer - have to use correct version information in your code and update the internet file whenever an update is available.

Program version

Ever looked at the version block of your code in the resource file? This resource consists of two major blocks: A language-independent information on the top containing file version etc. and some blocks where text information can be stored like the copyright. This code only uses the fixed block (FILEVERSION) at the top of this resource. Please be sure to update this block any time you want to release a new version!

What this class does

The new class CUpdateCheck has 1 main function: download a web site and check for updates! If you don't want to change any behaviour you simply use the class "as is" - that's all (besides adding the language-dependant strings). The class has two helper function GetFileVersion()to get the applications File version and GotoURL() which simply opens a web page in the default browser. I got the code for GotoURL() somewhere on the web, so when you are the author please inform me to put your names to the credits.

Using the code, allow auto-updates

[1]: Add a new menu item to your application and handle it in your CWinApp drived class. This could look like this:
void CMyApp::OnAppCheckupdate()
  CUpdateCheck checkUpdate;
where the string IDS_UPDATE is e.g.

In case you want to check automatically for updates each time the user start your application put the lines above in the InitInstance function. Or write the last date you checked for updates to the registry and only check once each week. ....

[2]: Add a few strings to the string table:

IDS_UPDATE_AVAILABLE You currently use version %u.%u of this program. The newest version %u.%u is available online. Do you want to see more information?
IDS_UPDATE_NO No Updates available.
IDS_UPDATE_NOCHECK Unable to check for updates.

[3]: Put a file on your webspace (located as referred in IDS_UPDATE) which has the following syntax:

Major Version|Minor Version|URL for Update page
So when your program has currently the version 1,1,0,0 and you want to offer an update to 3,4,0,0 which is available for download at the file should be


  • The file on your web site has to be less than 512 characters
  • Only the two leftmost parts of the version info are used. The lower two numbers are normally used as a "Build number" and have no effect on this class
  • No automatic download is offered, the user has to download the files from your site and copy/install them


01.11.2003: Initial release


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


About the Author

Alexander Bischofberger
Web Developer
Germany Germany
Ok, a few words about me:

I started programming on the C64 by the "trial and error" method. Years later my parents got their first PC (Atari PC4, AT 8 MHz) where I started with Turbo Pascal. The next steps led to Turbo Pascal for Windows, Visual C++ 1.52c, and finally Visual C++ 6.

I had several chances to code larger projects, e.g.
* stand-alone disc copy station software (Win 3.1) with automatic reboot, disc encryption, ...
* government-used strategic decision system
* MLM marketing tool (
* maintenance for show planning system and other TV software (

A lot of code, tipps and help came from this site for my later projects. Thanks again to all who helped me, even if they don't know it. I'm trying to share code (which is worth sharing) so others can get the help I got (and still need) for everyday problems.

Well, I think that's enough.

Comments and Discussions

GeneralGood submission, it works Pin
conrad Braam5-Nov-09 12:14
Memberconrad Braam5-Nov-09 12:14 
GeneralRe: Good submission, it works Pin
jcdids5-Nov-12 12:44
Memberjcdids5-Nov-12 12:44 
QuestionMore generic programming? Pin
MaartenEngels18-Aug-07 4:55
MemberMaartenEngels18-Aug-07 4:55 
GeneralCheckForUpdates - Security / Legal aspects Pin
Yogesh Dhakad1-Feb-07 19:42
MemberYogesh Dhakad1-Feb-07 19:42 
GeneralRe: CheckForUpdates - Security / Legal aspects Pin
Yogesh Dhakad1-Feb-07 19:50
MemberYogesh Dhakad1-Feb-07 19:50 
GeneralRe: CheckForUpdates - Security / Legal aspects Pin
Alexander Bischofberger4-Feb-07 0:04
MemberAlexander Bischofberger4-Feb-07 0:04 
GeneralRe: CheckForUpdates - Security / Legal aspects Pin
Yogesh Dhakad7-Feb-07 8:36
MemberYogesh Dhakad7-Feb-07 8:36 
GeneralExcellent, slight fix though Pin
John-Lucas Brown30-Jan-07 5:59
MemberJohn-Lucas Brown30-Jan-07 5:59 
GeneralRe: Excellent, slight fix though Pin
Alexander Bischofberger30-Jan-07 7:53
MemberAlexander Bischofberger30-Jan-07 7:53 
GeneralRe: Excellent, slight fix though Pin
John-Lucas Brown30-Jan-07 22:32
MemberJohn-Lucas Brown30-Jan-07 22:32 
GeneralVery good code! Very simple, easy for implement and use! Pin
kstoychev17-Apr-06 7:39
Memberkstoychev17-Apr-06 7:39 
GeneralJuande Pin
jdmanjon23-Nov-03 21:53
Memberjdmanjon23-Nov-03 21:53 
GeneralShameless plug for Web Update Wizard Pin
peterboulton18-Nov-03 7:02
professionalpeterboulton18-Nov-03 7:02 
GeneralRe: Shameless plug for Web Update Wizard Pin
mier18-Nov-03 23:27
Membermier18-Nov-03 23:27 
GeneralRe: Shameless plug for Web Update Wizard Pin
peterboulton19-Nov-03 0:08
professionalpeterboulton19-Nov-03 0:08 
GeneralRe: Shameless plug for Web Update Wizard Pin
Sean O'Brien22-Nov-03 12:12
MemberSean O'Brien22-Nov-03 12:12 
GeneralRe: Shameless plug for Web Update Wizard Pin
peterboulton23-Nov-03 2:09
professionalpeterboulton23-Nov-03 2:09 
Does Gnucleus allow users without Admin rights to securely update to Program Files folder etc? Only Web Update Wizard does do this! Most corporates tie down Program Files / Windows folders etc. and a process running in the user's security context will not be able to update itself or anything else in these locations.
GeneralRe: Shameless plug for Web Update Wizard Pin
Sean O'Brien23-Nov-03 10:36
MemberSean O'Brien23-Nov-03 10:36 
GeneralRe: Shameless plug for Web Update Wizard Pin
peterboulton23-Nov-03 22:05
professionalpeterboulton23-Nov-03 22:05 
GeneralRe: Shameless plug for Web Update Wizard Pin
alex.barylski15-May-04 20:46
Memberalex.barylski15-May-04 20:46 
GeneralRe: Shameless plug for Web Update Wizard Pin
peterboulton16-May-04 4:21
professionalpeterboulton16-May-04 4:21 
GeneralRe: Shameless plug for Web Update Wizard Pin
alex.barylski16-May-04 5:03
Memberalex.barylski16-May-04 5:03 
GeneralRe: Shameless plug for Web Update Wizard Pin
Alexander Bischofberger26-Nov-03 0:35
MemberAlexander Bischofberger26-Nov-03 0:35 
GeneralRe: Shameless plug for Web Update Wizard Pin
peterboulton26-Nov-03 2:54
professionalpeterboulton26-Nov-03 2:54 
GeneralRe: Shameless plug for Web Update Wizard Pin
leotta24-Jan-04 15:58
Memberleotta24-Jan-04 15:58 

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