Frequently-asked questions about C++/WinRT

Answers to questions that you're likely to have about authoring and consuming Windows Runtime APIs with C++/WinRT.


For release notes about C++/WinRT, see News, and changes, in C++/WinRT 2.0.


If your question is about an error message that you've seen, then also see the Troubleshooting C++/WinRT topic.

Where can I find C++/WinRT sample apps?

How do I retarget my C++/WinRT project to a later version of the Windows SDK?

Why won't my new project compile, now that I've moved to C++/WinRT 2.0?

For the full set of changes (including breaking changes), see News, and changes, in C++/WinRT 2.0. For example, if you're using a range-based for on a Windows Runtime collection, then you'll now need to #include <winrt/Windows.Foundation.Collections.h>.

Why won't my new project compile? I'm using Visual Studio 2017 (version 15.8.0 or higher), and SDK version 17134

If you're using Visual Studio 2017 (version 15.8.0 or higher), and targeting the Windows SDK version 10.0.17134.0 (Windows 10, version 1803), then a newly created C++/WinRT project may fail to compile with the error "error C3861: 'from_abi': identifier not found", and with other errors originating in base.h. The solution is to either target a later (more conformant) version of the Windows SDK, or set project property C/C++ > Language > Conformance mode: No (also, if /permissive- appears in project property C/C++ > Command Line under Additional Options, then delete it).

How do I resolve the build error "The C++/WinRT VSIX no longer provides project build support. Please add a project reference to the Microsoft.Windows.CppWinRT Nuget package"?

Install the Microsoft.Windows.CppWinRT NuGet package into your project. For details, see Earlier versions of the VSIX extension.

How do I customize the build support in the NuGet package?

C++/WinRT build support (props/targets) is documented in the Microsoft.Windows.CppWinRT NuGet package readme.

What are the requirements for the C++/WinRT Visual Studio Extension (VSIX)?

For version 1.0.190128.4 of the VSIX extension and later, see Visual Studio support for C++/WinRT. For other versions, see Earlier versions of the VSIX extension.

What's a runtime class?

A runtime class is a type that can be activated and consumed via modern COM interfaces, typically across executable boundaries. However, a runtime class can also be used within the compilation unit that implements it. You declare a runtime class in Interface Definition Language (IDL), and you can implement it in standard C++ using C++/WinRT.

What do the projected type and the implementation type mean?

If you're only consuming a Windows Runtime class (runtime class), then you'll be dealing exclusively with projected types. C++/WinRT is a language projection, so projected types are part of the surface of the Windows Runtime that's projected into C++ with C++/WinRT. For more details, see Consume APIs with C++/WinRT.

The implementation type contains the implementation of a runtime class, so it's only available in the project that implements the runtime class. When you're working in a project that implements runtime classes (a Windows Runtime component project, or a project that uses XAML UI), it's important to be comfortable with the distinction between your implementation type for a runtime class, and the projected type that represents the runtime class projected into C++/WinRT. For more details, see Author APIs with C++/WinRT.

Do I need to declare a constructor in my runtime class's IDL?

Only if the runtime class is designed to be consumed from outside its implementing compilation unit (it's a Windows Runtime component intended for general consumption by Windows Runtime client apps). For full details on the purpose and consequences of declaring constructor(s) in IDL, see Runtime class constructors.

Why is the compiler giving me a "C3779: consume_Something: function that returns 'auto' cannot be used before it is defined" error?

You're consuming an API from the Windows namespace headers for the C++/WinRT projection (in the winrt namespace), and the API is forward-declared in a header that you've included, but its definition is in a header that you haven't yet included. Include the header named for the API's namespace, and rebuild. For more info, see C++/WinRT projection headers.

Why is the linker giving me a "LNK2019: Unresolved external symbol" error?

If the unresolved symbol is a Windows Runtime free function, such as RoInitialize, then you'll need to explicitly link the WindowsApp.lib umbrella library in your project. The C++/WinRT projection depends on some of these free (non-member) functions and entry points. If you use one of the C++/WinRT Visual Studio Extension (VSIX) project templates for your application, then WindowsApp.lib is linked for you automatically. Otherwise, you can use project link settings to include it, or do it in source code.

#pragma comment(lib, "windowsapp")

It's important that you resolve any linker errors that you can by linking WindowsApp.lib instead of an alternative static-link library, otherwise your application won't pass the Windows App Certification Kit tests used by Visual Studio and by the Microsoft Store to validate submissions (meaning that it consequently won't be possible for your application to be successfully ingested into the Microsoft Store).

Relatively rare: if the unresolved symbol is an API from the Windows namespace headers for the C++/WinRT projection (in the winrt namespace), then the API is forward-declared in a header that you've included, but its definition is in a header that you haven't yet included. Include the header named for the API's namespace, and rebuild. For more info, see C++/WinRT projection headers.

Why am I getting a "class not registered" exception?

In this case, the symptom is that—when constructing a runtime class or accessing a static member—you see an exception thrown at runtime with a HRESULT value of REGDB_E_CLASSNOTREGISTERED.

One cause can be that your Windows Runtime component can't be loaded. Make sure that the component's Windows Runtime metadata file (.winmd) has the same name as the component binary (the .dll), which is also the name of the project and the name of the root namespace. Also make sure that the Windows Runtime metadata and the binary have been corectly copied by the build process to the consuming app's Appx folder. And confirm that the consuming app's AppxManifest.xml (also in the Appx folder) contains an <InProcessServer> element correctly declaring the activatable class and the binary name.

Uniform construction This error can also happen if you try to instantiate a locally-implemented runtime class via any of the projected type's constructors (other than its std::nullptr_t constructor). To do that, you'll need the C++/WinRT 2.0 feature that's often called uniform construction. If you want to opt in to that feature, then for more info, and code examples, see Opt in to uniform construction, and direct implementation access.

For a way of instantiating your locally-implemented runtime classes that doesn't require uniform construction, see XAML controls; bind to a C++/WinRT property.

Should I implement Windows::Foundation::IClosable and, if so, how?

If you have a runtime class that frees resources in its destructor, and that runtime class is designed to be consumed from outside its implementing compilation unit (it's a Windows Runtime component intended for general consumption by Windows Runtime client apps), then we recommend that you also implement IClosable in order to support the consumption of your runtime class by languages that lack deterministic finalization. Make sure that your resources are freed whether the destructor, IClosable::Close, or both are called. IClosable::Close may be called an arbitrary number of times.

Do I need to call IClosable::Close on runtime classes that I consume?

IClosable exists to support languages that lack deterministic finalization. So, in general, you don't need to call IClosable::Close from C++/WinRT. But consider these exceptions to that general rule.

  • There are very rare cases involving shutdown races or semi-deadly embraces, where you do need to call IClosable::Close. If you're using Windows.UI.Composition types, as an example, then you may encounter cases where you want to dispose objects in a set sequence, as an alternative to allowing the destruction of the C++/WinRT wrapper do the work for you.
  • If you can't guarantee that you have the last remaining reference to an object (because you passed it to other APIs, which could be keeping a reference), then calling IClosable::Close is a good idea.
  • When in doubt, it's safe to call IClosable::Close manually, rather than waiting for the wrapper to call it on destruction.

So, if you know that you have the last reference, then you can let the wrapper destructor do the work. If you need to close before the last reference vanishes, then you need to call Close. To be exception-safe, you should Close in a resource-acquisition-is-initialization (RAII) type (so that close happens on unwind). C++/WinRT doesn't have a unique_close wrapper, but you can make your own.

Can I use LLVM/Clang to compile with C++/WinRT?

We don't support the LLVM and Clang toolchain for C++/WinRT, but we do make use of it internally to validate C++/WinRT's standards conformance. For example, if you wanted to emulate what we do internally, then you could try an experiment such as the one described below.

Go to the LLVM Download Page, look for Download LLVM 6.0.0 > Pre-Built Binaries, and download Clang for Windows (64-bit). During installation, opt to add LLVM to the PATH system variable so that you'll be able to invoke it from a command prompt. For the purposes of this experiment, you can ignore any "Failed to find MSBuild toolsets directory" and/or "MSVC integration install failed" errors, if you see them. There are a variety of ways to invoke LLVM/Clang; the example below shows just one way.

C:\ExperimentWithLLVMClang>type main.cpp
// main.cpp
#pragma comment(lib, "windowsapp")
#pragma comment(lib, "ole32")

#include <winrt/Windows.Foundation.h>
#include <stdio.h>
#include <iostream>

using namespace winrt;

int main()
    Windows::Foundation::Uri rssFeedUri{ L"" };
    std::wcout << rssFeedUri.Domain().c_str() << std::endl;

C:\ExperimentWithLLVMClang>clang-cl main.cpp /EHsc /I ..\.. -Xclang -std=c++17 -Xclang -Wno-delete-non-virtual-dtor -o app.exe


Because C++/WinRT uses features from the C++17 standard, you'll need to use whatever compiler flags are necessary to get that support; such flags differ from one compiler to another.

Visual Studio is the development tool that we support and recommend for C++/WinRT. See Visual Studio support for C++/WinRT.

Why doesn't the generated implementation function for a read-only property have the const qualifier?

When you declare a read-only property in MIDL 3.0, you might expect the cppwinrt.exe tool to generate an implementation function for you that is const-qualified (a const function treats the this pointer as const).

We certainly recommend using const wherever possible, but the cppwinrt.exe tool itself doesn't attempt to reason about which implementation functions might conceivably be const, and which might not. You can choose to make any of your implementation functions const, as in this example.

struct MyStringable : winrt::implements<MyStringable, winrt::Windows::Foundation::IStringable>
    winrt::hstring ToString() const
        return L"MyStringable";

You can remove that const qualifier on ToString should you decide that you need to alter some object state in its implementation. But make each of your member functions either const or non-const, not both. In other words, don't overload an implementation function on const.

Aside from your implementation functions, another other place where const comes into the picture is in Windows Runtime function projections. Consider this code.

int main()
    winrt::Windows::Foundation::IStringable s{ winrt::make<MyStringable>() };
    auto result{ s.ToString() };

For the call to ToString above, the Go To Declaration command in Visual Studio shows that the projection of the Windows Runtime IStringable::ToString into C++/WinRT looks like this.

winrt::hstring ToString() const;

Functions on the projection are const no matter how you choose to qualify your implementation of them. Behind the scenes, the projection calls the application binary interface (ABI), which amounts to a call through a COM interface pointer. The only state that the projected ToString interacts with is that COM interface pointer; and it certainly has no need to modify that pointer, so the function is const. This gives you the assurance that it won't change anything about the IStringable reference that you're calling through, and it ensures that you can call ToString even with a const reference to an IStringable.

Understand that these examples of const are implementation details of C++/WinRT projections and implementations; they constitute code hygiene for your benefit. There's no such thing as const on the COM nor Windows Runtime ABI (for member functions).

Do you have any recommendations for decreasing the code size for C++/WinRT binaries?

When working with Windows Runtime objects, you should avoid the coding pattern shown below because it can have a negative impact on your application by causing more binary code than necessary to be generated.


In the Windows Runtime world, the compiler is unable to cache either the value of c() or the interfaces for each method that's called through an indirection ('.'). Unless you intervene, that results in more virtual calls and reference counting overhead. The pattern above could easily generate twice as much code as strictly needed. Instead, prefer the pattern shown below wherever you can. It generates a lot less code, and it can also dramatically improve your run time performance.

auto a{ anobject.b().c() };

The recommended pattern shown above applies not just to C++/WinRT but to all Windows Runtime language projections.

How do I turn a string into a type (for navigation, for example)?

At the end of the Navigation view code example (which is mostly in C#), there's a C++/WinRT code snippet showing how to do this.

How do I resolve ambiguities with GetCurrentTime and/or TRY?

The header file winrt/Windows.UI.Xaml.Media.Animation.h declares a method named GetCurrentTime, while windows.h (via winbase.h) defines a macro named GetCurrentTime. When the two collide, the C++ compiler produces "error C4002: Too many arguments for function-like macro invocation GetCurrentTime".

Similarly, winrt/Windows.Globalization.h declares a method named TRY, while afx.h defines a macro named TRY. When these collide, the C++ compiler produces "error C2334: unexpected token(s) preceding '{'; skipping apparent function body".

To remedy one or both issues, you can do this.

#pragma push_macro("GetCurrentTime")
#pragma push_macro("TRY")
#undef GetCurrentTime
#undef TRY
#include <winrt/include_your_cppwinrt_headers_here.h>
#include <winrt/include_your_cppwinrt_headers_here.h>
#pragma pop_macro("TRY")
#pragma pop_macro("GetCurrentTime")

How do I speed up symbol loading?

In Visual Studio, Tools > Options > Debugging > Symbols > check Load only specified modules. You can then right-click DLLs in the stack list, and load individual modules.


If this topic didn't answer your question, then you might find help by visiting the Visual Studio C++ developer community, or by using the c++-winrt tag on Stack Overflow.