Monday, July 09, 2007


Each time when you use a win32 API which uses a HANDLE remember that the handle Must be valid (not closed).

It is important to understand the concepts of the handle being signaled and being closed.

Signaled state refers to the handle state. It can be signaled or unsignaled. Wait functions for example, like WaitForSingleObject, block current thread until the object gets signaled.

A handle is said to be closed when its reference count reaches zero value. When this happens the handle is closed and doing any waiting on it is error prone.

A handle is a pointer on an object. Wait functions check the state of the object, hence it is a must that the handler (the pointer) is valid. Otherwise, waiting functions wont work properly (while waiting on an invalid handle, you might wait indefinetly).

One example of bogus use is with MFC AfxBeginThread function. Its default behaviour is to auto 'delete' the thread, i.e to close its handle.
Its bad to use the returned handle after the thread is terminated and closed.
That its not a HANDLE. its a wild HANDLE.

This is described excellent in Chapter 12, Threads in the well known book by Jeff Prosise, Programming Windows with MFC, 2nd Edition.

Another missuse, without MFC, might be in an multithreaded application. One threads create a thread and share the handle others thread which use it.

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