How do I call ::CreateProcess in c++ to launch a Windows executable?

54

Looking for an example that:

  1. Launches an EXE
  2. Waits for the EXE to finish.
  3. Properly closes all the handles when the executable finishes.

This question is tagged with c++ windows winapi

~ Asked on 2008-09-03 20:39:21

8 Answers


76

Something like this:

STARTUPINFO info={sizeof(info)};
PROCESS_INFORMATION processInfo;
if (CreateProcess(path, cmd, NULL, NULL, TRUE, 0, NULL, NULL, &info, &processInfo))
{
    WaitForSingleObject(processInfo.hProcess, INFINITE);
    CloseHandle(processInfo.hProcess);
    CloseHandle(processInfo.hThread);
}

~ Answered on 2008-09-03 20:45:53


23

There is an example at http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ms682512(VS.85).aspx

Just replace the argv[1] with your constant or variable containing the program.

#include <windows.h>
#include <stdio.h>
#include <tchar.h>

void _tmain( int argc, TCHAR *argv[] )
{
    STARTUPINFO si;
    PROCESS_INFORMATION pi;

    ZeroMemory( &si, sizeof(si) );
    si.cb = sizeof(si);
    ZeroMemory( &pi, sizeof(pi) );

    if( argc != 2 )
    {
        printf("Usage: %s [cmdline]\n", argv[0]);
        return;
    }

    // Start the child process. 
    if( !CreateProcess( NULL,   // No module name (use command line)
        argv[1],        // Command line
        NULL,           // Process handle not inheritable
        NULL,           // Thread handle not inheritable
        FALSE,          // Set handle inheritance to FALSE
        0,              // No creation flags
        NULL,           // Use parent's environment block
        NULL,           // Use parent's starting directory 
        &si,            // Pointer to STARTUPINFO structure
        &pi )           // Pointer to PROCESS_INFORMATION structure
    ) 
    {
        printf( "CreateProcess failed (%d).\n", GetLastError() );
        return;
    }

    // Wait until child process exits.
    WaitForSingleObject( pi.hProcess, INFINITE );

    // Close process and thread handles. 
    CloseHandle( pi.hProcess );
    CloseHandle( pi.hThread );
}

~ Answered on 2008-09-03 20:45:11


11

If you application is a Windows GUI application then using the code below to do the waiting is not ideal as messages for your application will not be getting processing. To the user it will look like your application has hung.

WaitForSingleObject(&processInfo.hProcess, INFINITE)

Something like the untested code below might be better as it will keep processing the windows message queue and your application will remain responsive:

//-- wait for the process to finish
while (true)
{
  //-- see if the task has terminated
  DWORD dwExitCode = WaitForSingleObject(ProcessInfo.hProcess, 0);

  if (   (dwExitCode == WAIT_FAILED   )
      || (dwExitCode == WAIT_OBJECT_0 )
      || (dwExitCode == WAIT_ABANDONED) )
  {
    DWORD dwExitCode;

    //-- get the process exit code
    GetExitCodeProcess(ProcessInfo.hProcess, &dwExitCode);

    //-- the task has ended so close the handle
    CloseHandle(ProcessInfo.hThread);
    CloseHandle(ProcessInfo.hProcess);

    //-- save the exit code
    lExitCode = dwExitCode;

    return;
  }
  else
  {
    //-- see if there are any message that need to be processed
    while (PeekMessage(&message.msg, 0, 0, 0, PM_NOREMOVE))
    {
      if (message.msg.message == WM_QUIT)
      {
        return;
      }

      //-- process the message queue
      if (GetMessage(&message.msg, 0, 0, 0))
      {
        //-- process the message
        TranslateMessage(&pMessage->msg);
        DispatchMessage(&pMessage->msg);
      }
    }
  }
}

~ Answered on 2008-09-19 04:30:10


8

if your exe happens to be a console app, you might be interested in reading the stdout and stderr -- for that, I'll humbly refer you to this example:

http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;EN-US;q190351

It's a bit of a mouthful of code, but I've used variations of this code to spawn and read.

~ Answered on 2008-09-03 21:02:11


7

On a semi-related note, if you want to start a process that has more privileges than your current process (say, launching an admin app, which requires Administrator rights, from the main app running as a normal user), you can't do so using CreateProcess() on Vista since it won't trigger the UAC dialog (assuming it is enabled). The UAC dialog is triggered when using ShellExecute(), though.

~ Answered on 2008-09-03 22:13:45


5

~ Answered on 2011-05-02 20:55:40


5

Here is a new example that works on windows 10. When using the windows10 sdk you have to use CreateProcessW instead. This example is commented and hopefully self explanatory.

#ifdef _WIN32
#include <Windows.h>
#include <iostream>
#include <stdio.h>
#include <tchar.h>
#include <cstdlib>
#include <string>
#include <algorithm>

class process
{
public:

    static PROCESS_INFORMATION launchProcess(std::string app, std::string arg)
    {

        // Prepare handles.
        STARTUPINFO si;
        PROCESS_INFORMATION pi; // The function returns this
        ZeroMemory( &si, sizeof(si) );
        si.cb = sizeof(si);
        ZeroMemory( &pi, sizeof(pi) );

        //Prepare CreateProcess args
        std::wstring app_w(app.length(), L' '); // Make room for characters
        std::copy(app.begin(), app.end(), app_w.begin()); // Copy string to wstring.

        std::wstring arg_w(arg.length(), L' '); // Make room for characters
        std::copy(arg.begin(), arg.end(), arg_w.begin()); // Copy string to wstring.

        std::wstring input = app_w + L" " + arg_w;
        wchar_t* arg_concat = const_cast<wchar_t*>( input.c_str() );
        const wchar_t* app_const = app_w.c_str();

        // Start the child process.
        if( !CreateProcessW(
            app_const,      // app path
            arg_concat,     // Command line (needs to include app path as first argument. args seperated by whitepace)
            NULL,           // Process handle not inheritable
            NULL,           // Thread handle not inheritable
            FALSE,          // Set handle inheritance to FALSE
            0,              // No creation flags
            NULL,           // Use parent's environment block
            NULL,           // Use parent's starting directory
            &si,            // Pointer to STARTUPINFO structure
            &pi )           // Pointer to PROCESS_INFORMATION structure
        )
        {
            printf( "CreateProcess failed (%d).\n", GetLastError() );
            throw std::exception("Could not create child process");
        }
        else
        {
            std::cout << "[          ] Successfully launched child process" << std::endl;
        }

        // Return process handle
        return pi;
    }

    static bool checkIfProcessIsActive(PROCESS_INFORMATION pi)
    {
        // Check if handle is closed
            if ( pi.hProcess == NULL )
            {
                printf( "Process handle is closed or invalid (%d).\n", GetLastError());
                return FALSE;
            }

        // If handle open, check if process is active
        DWORD lpExitCode = 0;
        if( GetExitCodeProcess(pi.hProcess, &lpExitCode) == 0)
        {
            printf( "Cannot return exit code (%d).\n", GetLastError() );
            throw std::exception("Cannot return exit code");
        }
        else
        {
            if (lpExitCode == STILL_ACTIVE)
            {
                return TRUE;
            }
            else
            {
                return FALSE;
            }
        }
    }

    static bool stopProcess( PROCESS_INFORMATION &pi)
    {
        // Check if handle is invalid or has allready been closed
            if ( pi.hProcess == NULL )
            {
                printf( "Process handle invalid. Possibly allready been closed (%d).\n");
                return 0;
            }

        // Terminate Process
            if( !TerminateProcess(pi.hProcess,1))
            {
                printf( "ExitProcess failed (%d).\n", GetLastError() );
                return 0;
            }

        // Wait until child process exits.
            if( WaitForSingleObject( pi.hProcess, INFINITE ) == WAIT_FAILED)
            {
                printf( "Wait for exit process failed(%d).\n", GetLastError() );
                return 0;
            }

        // Close process and thread handles.
            if( !CloseHandle( pi.hProcess ))
            {
                printf( "Cannot close process handle(%d).\n", GetLastError() );
                return 0;
            }
            else
            {
                pi.hProcess = NULL;
            }

            if( !CloseHandle( pi.hThread ))
            {
                printf( "Cannot close thread handle (%d).\n", GetLastError() );
                return 0;
            }
            else
            {
                 pi.hProcess = NULL;
            }
            return 1;
    }
};//class process
#endif //win32

~ Answered on 2017-10-19 13:56:11


3

Bear in mind that using WaitForSingleObject can get you into trouble in this scenario. The following is snipped from a tip on my website:

The problem arises because your application has a window but isn't pumping messages. If the spawned application invokes SendMessage with one of the broadcast targets (HWND_BROADCAST or HWND_TOPMOST), then the SendMessage won't return to the new application until all applications have handled the message - but your app can't handle the message because it isn't pumping messages.... so the new app locks up, so your wait never succeeds.... DEADLOCK.

If you have absolute control over the spawned application, then there are measures you can take, such as using SendMessageTimeout rather than SendMessage (e.g. for DDE initiations, if anybody is still using that). But there are situations which cause implicit SendMessage broadcasts over which you have no control, such as using the SetSysColors API for instance.

The only safe ways round this are:

  1. split off the Wait into a separate thread, or
  2. use a timeout on the Wait and use PeekMessage in your Wait loop to ensure that you pump messages, or
  3. use the MsgWaitForMultipleObjects API.

~ Answered on 2008-12-04 09:38:26


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