Chapter 10. COM in Wine

10.1. Writing COM Components for Wine

This section describes how to create your own natively compiled COM components.

10.1.1. Macros to define a COM interface

The goal of the following set of definitions is to provide a way to use the same header file definitions to provide both a C interface and a C++ object oriented interface to COM interfaces. The type of interface is selected automatically depending on the language but it is always possible to get the C interface in C++ by defining CINTERFACE.

It is based on the following assumptions:

  • all COM interfaces derive from IUnknown, this should not be a problem.

  • the header file only defines the interface, the actual fields are defined separately in the C file implementing the interface.

The natural approach to this problem would be to make sure we get a C++ class and virtual methods in C++ and a structure with a table of pointer to functions in C. Unfortunately the layout of the virtual table is compiler specific, the layout of g++ virtual tables is not the same as that of an egcs virtual table which is not the same as that generated by Visual C++. There are workarounds to make the virtual tables compatible via padding but unfortunately the one which is imposed to the Wine emulator by the Windows binaries, i.e. the Visual C++ one, is the most compact of all.

So the solution I finally adopted does not use virtual tables. Instead I use in-line non virtual methods that dereference the method pointer themselves and perform the call.

Let's take Direct3D as an example:

#define ICOM_INTERFACE IDirect3D
#define IDirect3D_METHODS \
    ICOM_METHOD1(HRESULT,Initialize,    REFIID,) \
    ICOM_METHOD2(HRESULT,CreateLight,   LPDIRECT3DLIGHT*,, IUnknown*,) \
#define IDirect3D_IMETHODS \
    IUnknown_IMETHODS \

// *** IUnknown methods *** //
#define IDirect3D_QueryInterface(p,a,b) ICOM_CALL2(QueryInterface,p,a,b)
#define IDirect3D_AddRef(p)             ICOM_CALL (AddRef,p)
#define IDirect3D_Release(p)            ICOM_CALL (Release,p)
// *** IDirect3D methods *** //
#define IDirect3D_Initialize(p,a)       ICOM_CALL1(Initialize,p,a)
#define IDirect3D_EnumDevices(p,a,b)    ICOM_CALL2(EnumDevice,p,a,b)
#define IDirect3D_CreateLight(p,a,b)    ICOM_CALL2(CreateLight,p,a,b)
#define IDirect3D_CreateMaterial(p,a,b) ICOM_CALL2(CreateMaterial,p,a,b)
#define IDirect3D_CreateViewport(p,a,b) ICOM_CALL2(CreateViewport,p,a,b)
#define IDirect3D_FindDevice(p,a,b)     ICOM_CALL2(FindDevice,p,a,b)


The ICOM_INTERFACE macro is used in the ICOM_METHOD macros to define the type of the this pointer. Defining this macro here saves us the trouble of having to repeat the interface name everywhere. Note however that because of the way macros work, a macro like ICOM_METHOD1 cannot use ICOM_INTERFACE##_VTABLE because this would give ICOM_INTERFACE_VTABLE and not IDirect3D_VTABLE.

ICOM_METHODS defines the methods specific to this interface. It is then aggregated with the inherited methods to form ICOM_IMETHODS.

ICOM_IMETHODS defines the list of methods that are inheritable from this interface. It must be written manually (rather than using a macro to generate the equivalent code) to avoid macro recursion (which compilers don't like).

The ICOM_DEFINE finally declares all the structures necessary for the interface. We have to explicitly use the interface name for macro expansion reasons again. Inherited methods are inherited in C by using the IDirect3D_METHODS macro and the parent's Xxx_IMETHODS macro. In C++ we need only use the IDirect3D_METHODS since method inheritance is taken care of by the language.

In C++ the ICOM_METHOD macros generate a function prototype and a call to a function pointer method. This means using once t1 p1, t2 p2, ... and once p1, p2 without the types. The only way I found to handle this is to have one ICOM_METHOD macro per number of parameters and to have it take only the type information (with const if necessary) as parameters. The undef ICOM_INTERFACE is here to remind you that using ICOM_INTERFACE in the following macros will not work. This time it's because the ICOM_CALL macro expansion is done only once the IDirect3D_Xxx macro is expanded. And by that time ICOM_INTERFACE will be long gone anyway.

You may have noticed the double commas after each parameter type. This allows you to put the name of that parameter which I think is good for documentation. It is not required and since I did not know what to put there for this example (I could only find doc about IDirect3D2), I left them blank.

Finally the set of IDirect3D_Xxx macros is a standard set of macros defined to ease access to the interface methods in C. Unfortunately I don't see any way to avoid having to duplicate the inherited method definitions there. This time I could have used a trick to use only one macro whatever the number of parameters but I preferred to have it work the same way as above.

You probably have noticed that we don't define the fields we need to actually implement this interface: reference count, pointer to other resources and miscellaneous fields. That's because these interfaces are just that: interfaces. They may be implemented more than once, in different contexts and sometimes not even in Wine. Thus it would not make sense to impose that the interface contains some specific fields.

10.1.2. Bindings in C

In C this gives:

typedef struct IDirect3DVtbl IDirect3DVtbl;
struct IDirect3D {
    IDirect3DVtbl* lpVtbl;
struct IDirect3DVtbl {
    HRESULT (*fnQueryInterface)(IDirect3D* me, REFIID riid, LPVOID* ppvObj);
    ULONG (*fnAddRef)(IDirect3D* me);
    ULONG (*fnRelease)(IDirect3D* me);
    HRESULT (*fnInitialize)(IDirect3D* me, REFIID a);
    HRESULT (*fnEnumDevices)(IDirect3D* me, LPD3DENUMDEVICESCALLBACK a, LPVOID b);
    HRESULT (*fnCreateLight)(IDirect3D* me, LPDIRECT3DLIGHT* a, IUnknown* b);
    HRESULT (*fnCreateMaterial)(IDirect3D* me, LPDIRECT3DMATERIAL* a, IUnknown* b);
    HRESULT (*fnCreateViewport)(IDirect3D* me, LPDIRECT3DVIEWPORT* a, IUnknown* b);

// *** IUnknown methods *** //
#define IDirect3D_QueryInterface(p,a,b) (p)->lpVtbl->fnQueryInterface(p,a,b)
#define IDirect3D_AddRef(p)             (p)->lpVtbl->fnAddRef(p)
#define IDirect3D_Release(p)            (p)->lpVtbl->fnRelease(p)
// *** IDirect3D methods *** //
#define IDirect3D_Initialize(p,a)       (p)->lpVtbl->fnInitialize(p,a)
#define IDirect3D_EnumDevices(p,a,b)    (p)->lpVtbl->fnEnumDevice(p,a,b)
#define IDirect3D_CreateLight(p,a,b)    (p)->lpVtbl->fnCreateLight(p,a,b)
#define IDirect3D_CreateMaterial(p,a,b) (p)->lpVtbl->fnCreateMaterial(p,a,b)
#define IDirect3D_CreateViewport(p,a,b) (p)->lpVtbl->fnCreateViewport(p,a,b)
#define IDirect3D_FindDevice(p,a,b)     (p)->lpVtbl->fnFindDevice(p,a,b)


IDirect3D only contains a pointer to the virtual/jump table. This is the only thing the user needs to know to use the interface. Of course the structure we will define to implement this interface will have more fields but the first one will match this pointer.

The code generated by ICOM_DEFINE defines both the structure representing the interface and the structure for the jump table. ICOM_DEFINE uses the parent Xxx_IMETHODS macro to automatically repeat the prototypes of all the inherited methods and then uses IDirect3D_METHODS to define the IDirect3D methods.

Each method is declared as a pointer to function field in the jump table. The implementation will fill this jump table with appropriate values, probably using a static variable, and initialize the lpVtbl field to point to this variable.

The IDirect3D_Xxx macros then just dereference the lpVtbl pointer and use the function pointer corresponding to the macro name. This emulates the behavior of a virtual table and should be just as fast.

This C code should be quite compatible with the Windows headers both for code that uses COM interfaces and for code implementing a COM interface.

10.1.3. Bindings in C++

And in C++ (with g++):

typedef struct IDirect3D: public IUnknown {
    private: HRESULT (*fnInitialize)(IDirect3D* me, REFIID a);
    public: inline HRESULT Initialize(REFIID a) { return ((IDirect3D*)t.lpVtbl)->fnInitialize(this,a); };
    private: HRESULT (*fnEnumDevices)(IDirect3D* me, LPD3DENUMDEVICESCALLBACK a, LPVOID b);
    public: inline HRESULT EnumDevices(LPD3DENUMDEVICESCALLBACK a, LPVOID b)
        { return ((IDirect3D*)t.lpVtbl)->fnEnumDevices(this,a,b); };
    private: HRESULT (*fnCreateLight)(IDirect3D* me, LPDIRECT3DLIGHT* a, IUnknown* b);
    public: inline HRESULT CreateLight(LPDIRECT3DLIGHT* a, IUnknown* b)
        { return ((IDirect3D*)t.lpVtbl)->fnCreateLight(this,a,b); };
    private: HRESULT (*fnCreateMaterial)(IDirect3D* me, LPDIRECT3DMATERIAL* a, IUnknown* b);
    public: inline HRESULT CreateMaterial(LPDIRECT3DMATERIAL* a, IUnknown* b)
        { return ((IDirect3D*)t.lpVtbl)->fnCreateMaterial(this,a,b); };
    private: HRESULT (*fnCreateViewport)(IDirect3D* me, LPDIRECT3DVIEWPORT* a, IUnknown* b);
    public: inline HRESULT CreateViewport(LPDIRECT3DVIEWPORT* a, IUnknown* b)
        { return ((IDirect3D*)t.lpVtbl)->fnCreateViewport(this,a,b); };
        { return ((IDirect3D*)t.lpVtbl)->fnFindDevice(this,a,b); };


In C++ IDirect3D does double duty as both the virtual/jump table and as the interface definition. The reason for this is to avoid having to duplicate the method definitions: once to have the function pointers in the jump table and once to have the methods in the interface class. Here one macro can generate both. This means though that the first pointer, t.lpVtbl defined in IUnknown, must be interpreted as the jump table pointer if we interpret the structure as the interface class, and as the function pointer to the QueryInterface method, t.fnQueryInterface, if we interpret the structure as the jump table. Fortunately this gymnastic is entirely taken care of in the header of IUnknown.

Of course in C++ we use inheritance so that we don't have to duplicate the method definitions.

Since IDirect3D does double duty, each ICOM_METHOD macro defines both a function pointer and a non-virtual inline method which dereferences it and calls it. This way this method behaves just like a virtual method but does not create a true C++ virtual table which would break the structure layout. If you look at the implementation of these methods you'll notice that they would not work for void functions. We have to return something and fortunately this seems to be what all the COM methods do (otherwise we would need another set of macros).

Note how the ICOM_METHOD generates both function prototypes mixing types and formal parameter names and the method invocation using only the formal parameter name. This is the reason why we need different macros to handle different numbers of parameters.

Finally there is no IDirect3D_Xxx macro. These are not needed in C++ unless the CINTERFACE macro is defined in which case we would not be here.

This C++ code works well for code that just uses COM interfaces. But it will not work with C++ code implement a COM interface. That's because such code assumes the interface methods are declared as virtual C++ methods which is not the case here.

10.1.4. Implementing a COM interface.

This continues the above example. This example assumes that the implementation is in C.

typedef struct _IDirect3D {
    void* lpVtbl;
    // ...
 } _IDirect3D;

static ICOM_VTABLE(IDirect3D) d3dvt;

// implement the IDirect3D methods here

int IDirect3D_fnQueryInterface(IDirect3D* me)
    // ...

// ...

static ICOM_VTABLE(IDirect3D) d3dvt = {


We first define what the interface really contains. This is the _IDirect3D structure. The first field must of course be the virtual table pointer. Everything else is free.

Then we predeclare our static virtual table variable, we will need its address in some methods to initialize the virtual table pointer of the returned interface objects.

Then we implement the interface methods. To match what has been declared in the header file they must take a pointer to an IDirect3D structure and we must cast it to an _IDirect3D so that we can manipulate the fields. This is performed by the ICOM_THIS macro.

Finally we initialize the virtual table.