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How to: Use the Windows ReadFile Function (C# Programming Guide)

This example demonstrates the Windows ReadFile function by reading and displaying a text file. The ReadFile function requires the use of unsafe code because it requires a pointer as a parameter.

The byte array passed into the Read function is a managed type. This means that the common language runtime (CLR) garbage collector could relocate the memory used by the array at will. To prevent this, fixed is used to get a pointer to the memory and mark it so that the garbage collector will not move it. At the end of the fixed block, the memory automatically returns to being subject to moving through garbage collection.

This capability is known as declarative pinning. The nice part about pinning is that there is very little overhead unless a garbage collection occurs in the fixed block, which is an unlikely occurrence.

Example

class FileReader
{
    const uint GENERIC_READ = 0x80000000;
    const uint OPEN_EXISTING = 3;
    System.IntPtr handle;

    [System.Runtime.InteropServices.DllImport("kernel32", SetLastError = true)]
    static extern unsafe System.IntPtr CreateFile
    (
        string FileName,          // file name
        uint DesiredAccess,       // access mode
        uint ShareMode,           // share mode
        uint SecurityAttributes,  // Security Attributes
        uint CreationDisposition, // how to create
        uint FlagsAndAttributes,  // file attributes
        int hTemplateFile         // handle to template file
    );

    [System.Runtime.InteropServices.DllImport("kernel32", SetLastError = true)]
    static extern unsafe bool ReadFile
    (
        System.IntPtr hFile,      // handle to file
        void* pBuffer,            // data buffer
        int NumberOfBytesToRead,  // number of bytes to read
        int* pNumberOfBytesRead,  // number of bytes read
        int Overlapped            // overlapped buffer
    );

    [System.Runtime.InteropServices.DllImport("kernel32", SetLastError = true)]
    static extern unsafe bool CloseHandle
    (
        System.IntPtr hObject // handle to object
    );

    public bool Open(string FileName)
    {
        // open the existing file for reading       
        handle = CreateFile
        (
            FileName,
            GENERIC_READ,
            0,
            0,
            OPEN_EXISTING,
            0,
            0
        );

        if (handle != System.IntPtr.Zero)
        {
            return true;
        }
        else
        {
            return false;
        }
    }

    public unsafe int Read(byte[] buffer, int index, int count)
    {
        int n = 0;
        fixed (byte* p = buffer)
        {
            if (!ReadFile(handle, p + index, count, &n, 0))
            {
                return 0;
            }
        }
        return n;
    }

    public bool Close()
    {
        return CloseHandle(handle);
    }
}

class Test
{
    static int Main(string[] args)
    {
        if (args.Length != 1)
        {
            System.Console.WriteLine("Usage : ReadFile <FileName>");
            return 1;
        }

        if (!System.IO.File.Exists(args[0]))
        {
            System.Console.WriteLine("File " + args[0] + " not found.");
            return 1;
        }

        byte[] buffer = new byte[128];
        FileReader fr = new FileReader();

        if (fr.Open(args[0]))
        {
            // Assume that an ASCII file is being read.
            System.Text.ASCIIEncoding Encoding = new System.Text.ASCIIEncoding();

            int bytesRead;
            do
            {
                bytesRead = fr.Read(buffer, 0, buffer.Length);
                string content = Encoding.GetString(buffer, 0, bytesRead);
                System.Console.Write("{0}", content);
            }
            while (bytesRead > 0);

            fr.Close();
            return 0;
        }
        else
        {
            System.Console.WriteLine("Failed to open requested file");
            return 1;
        }
    }
}

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