23 October 2011

Cleanup after an exception

In the previous post Don't use END to terminate your application I discussed why End messes up the memory available to an application. The same is true for Assert and Stop (when you use to terminate the application).

Main exception handler
These commands raise an exception caught by the nearest exception handler. This might be a custom Try/Catch handler in your program, but most often it passed on to the applications main exception handler. The main part of a GB32 application is surrounded with a GB32 generated application-exception-handler that releases file handles and memory associated with GB32 data types. The OCX forms/controls are not part of the cleaning process. To properly release all COM object memory all forms have to be closed by an internal function Destroy_Form(). The forms in turn are responsible for releasing the OCX objects of the child windows (controls).

Custom handler
When you use a custom structured exception handling (Try/Catch) in your application the exceptions might be caught by your application's defined custom handler. Now the exception is not passed on to the main application-handler and no memory and file handles are released. When you are put in this situation, you can select the clean-up command from the IDE's menu to close all forms and file handles.

Cleanup opened Forms and files
GB32 includes a library function that can cleanup non-closed forms and files after an application terminates abruptly. The DLL-function is located in the runtime and is exported by ordinal #49. The function is automatically invoked when you RUN a program inside the IDE. But you can also invoke it by selecting 'Clean up' (shortcut Ctrl-L) from the IDE's menubar. The menuitem  executes the Gfa_CleanUp command that invokes the DLL cleanup function.

Why would you use Gfa_CleanUp when the same function is executed at the next RUN of your code? Well, programs that are terminated improperly (END, ASSERT, or any exception the program causes) leave with invalid memory-pointers and Gfa_CleanUp might fail (mostly likely it will).

Gfa_CleanUp executes within a exception handler itself and it first calls DLL function #49 to close the forms. If it returns properly it calls exported function #119 which cleans the file handlers. In short, this is what Gfa_CleanUp looks like:


When the G49_CleanUpForms() DLL function causes an exception the G119_CleanUpFiles() is never executed!

The G49_CleanUpForms() simply enumerates over the Forms collection to call each Destroy_Form() internal function. This function is responsible for deleting form-specific COM objects for Fonts, MouseCursors, Pictures, Icons, AutoRedraw bitmaps, Menus, controls, graphic settings, end other related COM objects. This is a very large function responsible for properly clearing (in the right order) all created COM objects. When something didn't work correctly in your application and it was terminated in an unstable state, it is most likely this function might fail. This might leave behind all kinds of allocated COM memory. In addition, the function might have generated an exception, most likely of an invalid memory pointer, and from the pseudo code above you then see that the file handles aren't released at all.

In conclusion,

  1. When you set up a new application use a proper message loop and try to created one main-form that owns other forms (set the Form.Owned property for the second and later forms in the Properties window). Closing the main-form will close all other forms.
  2. Don't use END and be careful with ASSERT. When an application terminates improperly try using invoke Gfa_CleanUp.
  3. Fix an exception error and make sure it won't happen again. Then restart the IDE to get rid of memory left-overs.

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