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Exporting and Importing Using AFX_EXT_CLASS

MFC extension DLLs use the macro AFX_EXT_CLASS to export classes; the executables that link to the MFC extension DLL use the macro to import classes. With the AFX_EXT_CLASS macro, the same header files that are used to build the MFC extension DLL can be used with the executables that link to the DLL.

In the header file for your DLL, add the AFX_EXT_CLASS keyword to the declaration of your class as follows:

class AFX_EXT_CLASS CMyClass : public CDocument
// <body of class>

This macro is defined by MFC as __declspec(dllexport) when the preprocessor symbols _AFXDLL and _AFXEXT are defined. But the macro is defined as __declspec(dllimport) when _AFXDLL is defined and _AFXEXT is not defined. When defined, the preprocessor symbol _AFXDLL indicates that the shared version of MFC is being used by the target executable (either a DLL or an application). When both _AFXDLL and _AFXEXT are defined, this indicates that the target executable is an MFC extension DLL.

Because AFX_EXT_CLASS is defined as __declspec(dllexport) when exporting from an MFC extension DLL, you can export entire classes without placing the decorated names for all of that class's symbols in the .def file.

Although you can avoid creating a .def file and all of the decorated names for the class with this method, creating a .def file is more efficient because the names can be exported by ordinal. To use the .def file method of exporting, place the following code at the beginning and end of your header file:

#undef AFX_DATA
// <body of your header file>
#undef AFX_DATA
#define AFX_DATA


Be careful when exporting inline functions, because they can create the possibility of version conflicts. An inline function gets expanded into the application code; therefore, if you later rewrite the function, it does not get updated unless the application itself is recompiled. Normally, DLL functions can be updated without rebuilding the applications that use them.

Exporting Individual Members in a Class

Sometimes you might want to export individual members of your class. For example, if you are exporting a CDialog-derived class, you might only need to export the constructor and the DoModal call. You can use AFX_EXT_CLASS on the individual members you need to export.

For example:

class CExampleDialog : public CDialog
   AFX_EXT_CLASS CExampleDialog();
   AFX_EXT_CLASS int DoModal();
   // rest of class definition

Because you are no longer exporting all members of the class, you may run into an additional problem because of the way that MFC macros work. Several of MFC's helper macros actually declare or define data members. Therefore, these data members must also be exported from your DLL.

For example, the DECLARE_DYNAMIC macro is defined as follows when building an MFC extension DLL:

#define DECLARE_DYNAMIC(class_name) \
protected: \
   static CRuntimeClass* PASCAL _GetBaseClass(); \
public: \
   static AFX_DATA CRuntimeClass class##class_name; \
   virtual CRuntimeClass* GetRuntimeClass() const; \

The line that begins with static AFX_DATA is declaring a static object inside of your class. To export this class correctly and access the run-time information from a client executable, you must export this static object. Because the static object is declared with the modifier AFX_DATA, you only need to define AFX_DATA to be __declspec(dllexport) when building your DLL and define it as __declspec(dllimport) when building your client executable. Because AFX_EXT_CLASS is already defined in this way, you just need to redefine AFX_DATA to be the same as AFX_EXT_CLASS around your class definition.

For example:

#undef  AFX_DATA

class CExampleView : public CView
   // ... class definition ...

#undef  AFX_DATA
#define AFX_DATA

Because MFC always uses the AFX_DATA symbol on data items it defines within its macros, this technique works for all such scenarios. For example, it works for DECLARE_MESSAGE_MAP.


If you are exporting the entire class rather than selected members of the class, static data members are automatically exported.

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See also

Exporting from a DLL