Introduction to Resources


Resources Fundamentals



A resource is an object that cannot be defined in C++ terms but that is needed to complete a program. In the strict sense, it is text that contains a series of terms or words that the program can interpret through code. Examples of resources are menus, icons, cursors, dialog boxes, sounds, etc.

There are various means of creating a resource and the approach you use depends on the resource. For example, some resources are completely text-based, such is the case for the String Table or the Accelerator Table. Some other resources must be designed, such is the case for icons and cursors. Some other resources can be imported from another, more elaborate application, such is the case for high graphic pictures. Yet some resources can be a combination of different resources.

Resource Creation

As mentioned already, resources are not a C++ concept but a Microsoft Windows theory of completing an application. Therefore, the programming environment you use may or may not provide you with the means of creating certain resources. Some environments like Borland C++ Builder or Visual C++ (6 and .NET) are complete with (almost) anything you need to create (almost) any type of resources. Some other environments may appear incomplete, allowing you to create only some resources, the other resources must be created using an external application not provided; such is the case for C++BuilderX.

Upon creating a resource, you must save it. Some resources are created as their own file, such is the case for pictures, icons, cursors, sound, etc. Each of these resources has a particular extension depending on the resource. After creating the resources, you must add them to a file that has the extension .rc. Some resources are listed in this file using a certain syntax. That's the case for icons, cursors, pictures, sounds, etc. Some other resources must be created directly in this file because these resources are text-based; that's the case for menus, strings, accelerators, version numbers, etc.

After creating the resource file, you must compile it. Again, some environments, such as Microsoft Visual C++, do this automatically when you execute the application. Some other environments may require you to explicitly compile the resource. That's the case for Borland C++ Builder and C++BuilderX. (The fact that these environments require that you compile the resource is not an anomaly. For example, if you create a Windows application that is form-based in C++ Builder 6 or Delphi, you can easily add the resources and they are automatically compiled and added to the application. If you decide to create a Win32 application, C++ Builder believes that you want to completely control your application; so, it lets you decide when and how to compile a resource. This means that it simply gives you more control).

Practical Learning Practical Learning: Introducing Windows Resources

  1. If you are using Borland C++ Builder, create a new Win32 application using Console Wizard as we did in Lesson 1
    1. Save the project as Resources1 in a new folder called Resources1
    2. Save the unit as Exercise.cpp
  2. If you are using Microsoft Visual C++, 
    1. Create a new Win32 Application as done the previous time. Save the project as Resources1 and 
    2. Create a new C++ Source file named Exercise.cpp
  3. Implement the source file as follows(for Borland C++ Builder, only add the parts that are not in the code):
    #include <windows.h>
    #pragma hdrstop
    #pragma argsused
    LPCTSTR ClsName = L"FundApp";
    LPCTSTR WndName = L"Resources Fundamentals";
    LRESULT CALLBACK WndProcedure(HWND hWnd, UINT uMsg,
    			      WPARAM wParam, LPARAM lParam);
    INT WINAPI WinMain(HINSTANCE hInstance, HINSTANCE hPrevInstance,
                       LPSTR lpCmdLine, int nCmdShow)
    	MSG        Msg;
    	HWND       hWnd;
    	// Create the application window
    	WndClsEx.cbSize        = sizeof(WNDCLASSEX);
    	WndClsEx.style         = CS_HREDRAW | CS_VREDRAW;
    	WndClsEx.lpfnWndProc   = WndProcedure;
    	WndClsEx.cbClsExtra    = 0;
    	WndClsEx.cbWndExtra    = 0;
    	WndClsEx.hIcon         = LoadIcon(NULL, IDI_APPLICATION);
    	WndClsEx.hCursor       = LoadCursor(NULL, IDC_ARROW);
    	WndClsEx.hbrBackground = (HBRUSH)GetStockObject(WHITE_BRUSH);
    	WndClsEx.lpszMenuName  = NULL;
    	WndClsEx.lpszClassName = ClsName;
    	WndClsEx.hInstance     = hInstance;
    	WndClsEx.hIconSm       = LoadIcon(NULL, IDI_APPLICATION);
    	// Register the application
    	// Create the window object
    	hWnd = CreateWindowEx(0,
    	// Find out if the window was created
    	if( !hWnd ) // If the window was not created,
    		return FALSE; // stop the application
    	// Display the window to the user
    	ShowWindow(hWnd, nCmdShow);// SW_SHOWNORMAL);
    	// Decode and treat the messages
    	// as long as the application is running
    	while( GetMessage(&Msg, NULL, 0, 0) )
    	return Msg.wParam;
    LRESULT CALLBACK WndProcedure(HWND hWnd, UINT Msg,
    			   WPARAM wParam, LPARAM lParam)
        case WM_DESTROY:
            // Process the left-over messages
            return DefWindowProc(hWnd, Msg, wParam, lParam);
        // If something was not done, let it go
        return 0;
  4. Execute the application to test it

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