Windows Sockets: Using Sockets with Archives


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The latest version of this topic can be found at Windows Sockets: Using Sockets with Archives.

This article describes the CSocket programming model. Class CSocket supplies socket support at a higher level of abstraction than does class CAsyncSocket. CSocket uses a version of the MFC serialization protocol to pass data to and from a socket object through an MFC CArchive object. CSocket provides blocking (while managing background processing of Windows messages) and gives you access to CArchive, which manages many aspects of the communication that you would have to do yourself using either the raw API or class CAsyncSocket.

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You can use class CSocket by itself, as a more convenient version of CAsyncSocket, but the simplest programming model is to use CSocket with a CArchive object.

For more information about how the implementation of sockets with archives works, see Windows Sockets: How Sockets with Archives Work. For example code, see Windows Sockets: Sequence of Operations and Windows Sockets: Example of Sockets Using Archives. For information about some of the functionality you can gain by deriving your own classes from the sockets classes, see Windows Sockets: Deriving from Socket Classes.

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If you are writing an MFC client program to communicate with established (non-MFC) servers, do not send C++ objects through the archive. Unless the server is an MFC application that understands the kinds of objects you want to send, it will not be able to receive and deserialize your objects. For related material on the subject of communicating with non-MFC applications, also see the article Windows Sockets: Byte Ordering.

Using a CSocket object involves creating and associating together several MFC class objects. In the general procedure below, each step is taken by both the server socket and the client socket, except for step 3, in which each socket type requires a different action.

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At run time, the server application usually starts first to be ready and "listening" when the client application seeks a connection. If the server is not ready when the client tries to connect, you typically require the user application to try connecting again later.

To set up communication between a server socket and a client socket

  1. Construct a CSocket object.

  2. Use the object to create the underlying SOCKET handle.

    For a CSocket client object, you should normally use the default parameters to Create, unless you need a datagram socket. For a CSocket server object, you must specify a port in the Create call.

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    CArchive does not work with datagram sockets. If you want to use CSocket for a datagram socket, you must use the class as you would use CAsyncSocket, that is, without an archive. Because datagrams are unreliable (not guaranteed to arrive and may be repeated or out of sequence), they are not compatible with serialization through an archive. You expect a serialization operation to complete reliably and in sequence. If you try to use CSocket with a CArchive object for a datagram, an MFC assertion fails.

  3. If the socket is a client, call CAsyncSocket::Connect to connect the socket object to a server socket.


    If the socket is a server, call CAsyncSocket::Listen to begin listening for connect attempts from a client. Upon receiving a connection request, accept it by calling CAsyncSocket::Accept.

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    The Accept member function takes a reference to a new, empty CSocket object as its parameter. You must construct this object before you call Accept. If this socket object goes out of scope, the connection closes. Do not call Create for this new socket object.

  4. Create a CSocketFile object, associating the CSocket object with it.

  5. Create a CArchive object for either loading (receiving) or storing (sending) data. The archive is associated with the CSocketFile object.

    Keep in mind that CArchive does not work with datagram sockets.

  6. Use the CArchive object to pass data between the client and server sockets.

    Keep in mind that a given CArchive object moves data in one direction only: either for loading (receiving) or storing (sending). In some cases, you will use two CArchive objects: one for sending data, the other for receiving acknowledgments.

    After accepting a connection and setting up the archive, you can perform such tasks as validating passwords.

  7. Destroy the archive, socket file, and socket objects.

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    Class CArchive supplies the IsBufferEmpty member function specifically for use with class CSocket. If the buffer contains multiple data messages, for example, you need to loop until all of them are read and the buffer is cleared. Otherwise, your next notification that there is data to be received may be indefinitely delayed. Use IsBufferEmpty to assure that you retrieve all data.

The article Windows Sockets: Sequence of Operations illustrates both sides of this process with example code.

For more information, see:

Windows Sockets in MFC