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Hi folks!

I have to send and receive data via TCP/IP from a legacy server. The bytes I send and receive are of course representing some data structures. In C/C++ I would memcpy the array into an existing structure or I would just cast a pointer of the strcut type to my byte array. In C it would look something like this:
#pragma pack(push, 1)

typedef struct INNER_ST
    DWORD A;
    BYTE B;

typedef struct FOO_ST
    WORD W;
    BYTE X[20];
    INNER_ST data[10];

#pragma pack(pop, 1)

void ReceiveData(const BYTE *pData)
    FOO_ST *pFooSt;

    pFooSt = (FOO_ST *)pData;

    DWORD alpha = pFooSt->data[0].A;


In C# my structures would look like this:
[StructLayout(LayoutKind.Sequential, Pack = 1)]
struct INNER_ST
    public UInt32 A;
    public Byte B;

[StructLayout(LayoutKind.Sequential, Pack = 1)]
unsafe struct FOO_ST
    public UInt16 W;
    public fixed Byte X[20];
    public fixed INNER_ST data[10]; // <- fails, Error CS1663 
    "Fixed size buffer type must be one of the following: bool, byte, short, int, long, char, sbyte, ushort, uint, ulong, float or double"

To copy "simmple" structures like INNER_ST with Marshal.PtrToStructure is not the problem.

My question: What can I do with arrays of structures inside structure to solve error CS1663.

Thx for any ideas or hints.

PS: Of course I cannot change the server side. I have the header files with the structure definitions in C and the new client will be in C#.

1 solution

Ignore what I posted previously, I was somewhat overcomplicating things! The method I suggested can be used when an unknown length of data is required to be marshalled.

As you know the length, it's simple:
struct Inner
    public uint A;
    public byte B;

struct Foo
    public ushort W;
    [MarshalAs(UnmanagedType.ByValArray, SizeConst = 20)]
    public byte[] X;
    [MarshalAs(UnmanagedType.ByValArray, SizeConst = 10)]
    public Inner[] data;

Why are you using fixed and unsafe?
Share this answer
Andy411 23-Nov-12 4:20am    
My 5. That's it. Thx a lot. You saved my friday :-)
When I started googling about the subject most examples used fixed arrays. That's why I used fixed and unsafe. I also found some examples with the MarshalAsAttribute but they did not suit my needs. I think I also skipped the ByValArray value during reading the documentation. Now it's more clear to me.
One thing left to me is to pay attantion during construction to initialize the arrays:
Foo f = new Foo()
x = new byte[20],
data = new Inner[10],
DaveyM69 23-Nov-12 13:13pm    
You generally only need to use fixed if the unmanaged function will mutate the data and you need it again afterwards - it prevents the GC moving the data in memory. GCHandle (when using GCHandleType.Pinned) is normally a better way for that though, or Marshal.AllocHGlobal - they both need to be freed if used so beware if you ever need them!
Bachowny 17-Mar-16 17:47pm    
Thanks so much! Sorted me right out.
Anteee 11-May-20 16:58pm    
Time I spent looking for answers and then I find this simple solution. I love you!

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