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Using TCHAR.H Data Types with _MBCS

Microsoft Specific

As the table of generic-text routine mappings indicates (see Generic-Text Mappings), when the manifest constant _MBCS is defined, a given generic-text routine maps to one of the following kinds of routines:

  • An SBCS routine that handles multibyte bytes, characters, and strings appropriately. In this case, the string arguments are expected to be of type char*. For example, _tprintf maps to printf; the string arguments to printf are of type char*. If you use the _TCHAR generic-text data type for your string types, the formal and actual parameter types for printf match because _TCHAR* maps to char*.

  • An MBCS-specific routine. In this case, the string arguments are expected to be of type unsigned char*. For example, _tcsrev maps to _mbsrev, which expects and returns a string of type unsigned char*. Again, if you use the _TCHAR generic-text data type for your string types, there is a potential type conflict because _TCHAR maps to type char.

Following are three solutions for preventing this type conflict (and the C compiler warnings or C++ compiler errors that would result):

  • Use the default behavior. TCHAR.H provides generic-text routine prototypes for routines in the run-time libraries, as in the following example.

    char *_tcsrev(char *);
    

    In the default case, the prototype for _tcsrev maps to _mbsrev through a thunk in LIBC.LIB. This changes the types of the _mbsrev incoming parameters and outgoing return value from _TCHAR * (such as char *) to unsigned char *. This method ensures type matching when you are using _TCHAR, but it is relatively slow because of the function call overhead.

  • Use function inlining by incorporating the following preprocessor statement in your code.

    #define _USE_INLINING
    

    This method causes an inline function thunk, provided in TCHAR.H, to map the generic-text routine directly to the appropriate MBCS routine. The following code excerpt from TCHAR.H provides an example of how this is done.

    __inline char *_tcsrev(char *_s1)
    {return (char *)_mbsrev((unsigned char *)_s1);}
    

    If you can use inlining, this is the best solution, because it guarantees type matching and has no additional time cost.

  • Use "direct mapping" by incorporating the following preprocessor statement in your code.

    #define _MB_MAP_DIRECT
    

    This approach provides a fast alternative if you do not want to use the default behavior or cannot use inlining. It causes the generic-text routine to be mapped by a macro directly to the MBCS version of the routine, as in the following example from TCHAR.H.

    #define _tcschr _mbschr
    

When you take this approach, you must be careful to ensure that appropriate data types are used for string arguments and string return values. You can use type casting to ensure proper type matching or you can use the _TXCHAR generic-text data type. _TXCHAR maps to type char in SBCS code but maps to type unsigned char in MBCS code. For more information about generic-text macros, see Generic-Text Mappings.

END Microsoft Specific

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