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How to: Define and Use Delegates (C++/CLI)

This article shows how to define and consume delegates in C++/CLI.

Although the .NET Framework provides a number of delegates, sometimes you might have to define new delegates.

The following code example defines a delegate that's named MyCallback. The event-handling code—the function that's called when this new delegate is fired—must have a return type of void and take a String reference.

The main function uses a static method that's defined by SomeClass to instantiate the MyCallback delegate. The delegate then becomes an alternate method of calling this function, as demonstrated by sending the string "single" to the delegate object. Next, additional instances of MyCallback are linked together and then executed by one call to the delegate object.

// use_delegate.cpp
// compile with: /clr
using namespace System;

ref class SomeClass
{
public:
   static void Func(String^ str)
   {
      Console::WriteLine("static SomeClass::Func - {0}", str);
   }
};

ref class OtherClass
{
public:
   OtherClass( Int32 n ) 
   {
      num = n;
   }

   void Method(String^ str) 
   {
      Console::WriteLine("OtherClass::Method - {0}, num = {1}", 
         str, num);
   }

   Int32 num;
};

delegate void MyCallback(String^ str);

int main( ) 
{
   MyCallback^ callback = gcnew MyCallback(SomeClass::Func);   
   callback("single"); 

   callback += gcnew MyCallback(SomeClass::Func);   

   OtherClass^ f = gcnew OtherClass(99);
   callback += gcnew MyCallback(f, &OtherClass::Method);

   f = gcnew OtherClass(100);
   callback += gcnew MyCallback(f, &OtherClass::Method);

   callback("chained");

   return 0;
}

Output

static SomeClass::Func - single
static SomeClass::Func - chained
static SomeClass::Func - chained
OtherClass::Method - chained, num = 99
OtherClass::Method - chained, num = 100

The next code sample shows how to associate a delegate with a member of a value class.

// mcppv2_del_mem_value_class.cpp
// compile with: /clr
using namespace System;
public delegate void MyDel();

value class A {
public:
   void func1() {
      Console::WriteLine("test");
   }
};

int main() {
   A a;
   A^ ah = a;
   MyDel^ f = gcnew MyDel(a, &A::func1);   // implicit box of a
   f();
   MyDel^ f2 = gcnew MyDel(ah, &A::func1);
   f2();
}

Output

test
test

You can use the "-" operator to remove a component delegate from a composed delegate.

// mcppv2_compose_delegates.cpp
// compile with: /clr
using namespace System;

delegate void MyDelegate(String ^ s);

ref class MyClass {
public:
   static void Hello(String ^ s) {
      Console::WriteLine("Hello, {0}!", s);
   }

   static void Goodbye(String ^ s) {
      Console::WriteLine("  Goodbye, {0}!", s);
   }
};

int main() {

   MyDelegate ^ a = gcnew MyDelegate(MyClass::Hello);
   MyDelegate ^ b = gcnew MyDelegate(MyClass::Goodbye);
   MyDelegate ^ c = a + b;
   MyDelegate ^ d = c - a;

   Console::WriteLine("Invoking delegate a:");
   a("A");
   Console::WriteLine("Invoking delegate b:");
   b("B");
   Console::WriteLine("Invoking delegate c:");
   c("C");
   Console::WriteLine("Invoking delegate d:");
   d("D");
}

Output

Invoking delegate a:
Hello, A!
Invoking delegate b:
  Goodbye, B!
Invoking delegate c:
Hello, C!
  Goodbye, C!
Invoking delegate d:
  Goodbye, D!

From a managed component you can call a native function with function pointer parameters where the native function then can call the member function of the managed component's delegate.

This sample creates the .dll that exports the native function:

// delegate_to_native_function.cpp
// compile with: /LD
#include < windows.h >
extern "C" {
   __declspec(dllexport)
   void nativeFunction(void (CALLBACK *mgdFunc)(const char* str)) {
      mgdFunc("Call to Managed Function");
   }
}

The next sample consumes the .dll and passes a delegate handle to the native function that expects a function pointer.

// delegate_to_native_function_2.cpp
// compile with: /clr
using namespace System;
using namespace System::Runtime::InteropServices;

delegate void Del(String ^s);
public ref class A {
public:
   void delMember(String ^s) {
      Console::WriteLine(s);
   }
};

[DllImportAttribute("delegate_to_native_function", CharSet=CharSet::Ansi)]
extern "C" void nativeFunction(Del ^d);

int main() {
   A ^a = gcnew A;
   Del ^d = gcnew Del(a, &A::delMember);
   nativeFunction(d);   // Call to native function
}

Output

Call to Managed Function

To associate a delegate with a native function, you must wrap the native function in a managed type and declare the function to be invoked through PInvoke.

// mcppv2_del_to_umnangd_func.cpp
// compile with: /clr
#pragma unmanaged
extern "C" void printf(const char*, ...);
class A {
public:
   static void func(char* s) {
      printf(s);
   }
};

#pragma managed
public delegate void func(char*); 

ref class B {
   A* ap;

public:
   B(A* ap):ap(ap) {}
   void func(char* s) {
      ap->func(s); 
   }
};

int main() {
   A* a = new A;
   B^ b = gcnew B(a);
   func^ f = gcnew func(b, &B::func);
   f("hello");
   delete a;
}

Output

hello

You can use an unbound delegate to pass an instance of the type whose function you want to call when the delegate is called.

Unbound delegates are especially useful if you want to iterate through the objects in a collection—by using for each, in keywords—and call a member function on each instance.

Here's how to declare, instantiate, and call bound and unbound delegates:

Action

Bound Delegates

Unbound Delegates

Declare

The delegate signature must match the signature of the function you want to call through the delegate.

The first parameter of the delegate signature is the type of this for the object you want to call.

After the first parameter, the delegate signature must match the signature of the function you want to call through the delegate.

Instantiate

When you instantiate a bound delegate, you can specify an instance function, or a global or static member function.

To specify an instance function, the first parameter is an instance of the type whose member function you want to call and the second parameter is the address of the function you want to call.

If you want to call a global or static member function, just pass the name of a global function or the name of the static member function.

When you instantiate an unbound delegate, just pass the address of the function you want to call.

Call

When you call a bound delegate, just pass the parameters that are required by the delegate signature.

Same as a bound delegate, but remember that the first parameter must be an instance of the object that contains the function you want to call.

This sample demonstrates how to declare, instantiate, and call unbound delegates:

// unbound_delegates.cpp
// compile with: /clr
ref struct A {
   A(){}
   A(int i) : m_i(i) {}
   void Print(int i) { System::Console::WriteLine(m_i + i);}

private:
   int m_i;
};

value struct V {
   void Print() { System::Console::WriteLine(m_i);}
   int m_i;
};

delegate void Delegate1(A^, int i);
delegate void Delegate2(A%, int i);

delegate void Delegate3(interior_ptr<V>);
delegate void Delegate4(V%);

delegate void Delegate5(int i);
delegate void Delegate6();

int main() {
   A^ a1 = gcnew A(1);
   A% a2 = *gcnew A(2);

   Delegate1 ^ Unbound_Delegate1 = gcnew Delegate1(&A::Print);
   // delegate takes a handle
   Unbound_Delegate1(a1, 1);
   Unbound_Delegate1(%a2, 1);

   Delegate2 ^ Unbound_Delegate2 = gcnew Delegate2(&A::Print);
   // delegate takes a tracking reference (must deference the handle)
   Unbound_Delegate2(*a1, 1);
   Unbound_Delegate2(a2, 1);

   // instantiate a bound delegate to an instance member function
   Delegate5 ^ Bound_Del = gcnew Delegate5(a1, &A::Print);
   Bound_Del(1);

   // instantiate value types
   V v1 = {7};
   V v2 = {8};

   Delegate3 ^ Unbound_Delegate3 = gcnew Delegate3(&V::Print);
   Unbound_Delegate3(&v1);
   Unbound_Delegate3(&v2);

   Delegate4 ^ Unbound_Delegate4 = gcnew Delegate4(&V::Print);
   Unbound_Delegate4(v1);
   Unbound_Delegate4(v2);

   Delegate6 ^ Bound_Delegate3 = gcnew Delegate6(v1, &V::Print);
   Bound_Delegate3();
}

Output

2
3
2
3
2
7
8
7
8
7

The next sample shows how to use unbound delegates and the for each, in keywords to iterate through objects in a collection and call a member function on each instance.

// unbound_delegates_2.cpp
// compile with: /clr
using namespace System;

ref class RefClass {
   String^ _Str;

public:
   RefClass( String^ str ) : _Str( str ) {}
   void Print() { Console::Write( _Str ); }
};

delegate void PrintDelegate( RefClass^ );

int main() {
   PrintDelegate^ d = gcnew PrintDelegate( &RefClass::Print );

   array< RefClass^ >^ a = gcnew array<RefClass^>( 10 );

   for ( int i = 0; i < a->Length; ++i )
      a[i] = gcnew RefClass( i.ToString() );

   for each ( RefClass^ R in a )
      d( R );

   Console::WriteLine();
}

This sample creates an unbound delegate to a property's accessor functions:

// unbound_delegates_3.cpp
// compile with: /clr
ref struct B {
   property int P1 {
      int get() { return m_i; }
      void set(int i) { m_i = i; }
   }

private:
   int m_i;
};

delegate void DelBSet(B^, int);
delegate int DelBGet(B^);

int main() {
   B^ b = gcnew B;

   DelBSet^ delBSet = gcnew DelBSet(&B::P1::set);
   delBSet(b, 11);

   DelBGet^ delBGet = gcnew DelBGet(&B::P1::get);   
   System::Console::WriteLine(delBGet(b));
}

Output

11

The following sample shows how to invoke a multicast delegate, where one instance is bound and one instance is unbound.

// unbound_delegates_4.cpp
// compile with: /clr
ref class R {
public:
   R(int i) : m_i(i) {}

   void f(R ^ r) {
      System::Console::WriteLine("in f(R ^ r)");
   }

   void f() {
      System::Console::WriteLine("in f()");
   }

private:
   int m_i;
};

delegate void Del(R ^);

int main() {
   R ^r1 = gcnew R(11);
   R ^r2 = gcnew R(12);

   Del^ d = gcnew Del(r1, &R::f);
   d += gcnew Del(&R::f);
   d(r2);
};

Output

in f(R ^ r)
in f()

The next sample shows how to create and call an unbound generic delegate.

// unbound_delegates_5.cpp
// compile with: /clr
ref struct R {
   R(int i) : m_i(i) {}

   int f(R ^) { return 999; }
   int f() { return m_i + 5; }
   
   int m_i;
};

value struct V {
   int f(V%) { return 999; }
   int f() { return m_i + 5; } 

   int m_i;
};

generic <typename T>
delegate int Del(T t);

generic <typename T>
delegate int DelV(T% t);


int main() {   
   R^ hr = gcnew R(7);
   System::Console::WriteLine((gcnew Del<R^>(&R::f))(hr));

   V v;
   v.m_i = 9;
   System::Console::WriteLine((gcnew DelV<V >(&V::f))(v) );
}

Output

12
14

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