Archive for the ‘Windows Mobile’ Category

Software Diagnostics Services

Friday, July 13th, 2012

For some time I was struggling with finding a good name for memory dump and software trace analysis activities. The name Memoretics I use for the science of memory dump analysis (that also incorporates software traces) seems not so good to describe the whole practical activity that should be transparent to everyone in IT. Fortunately, I timely understood that all these activities constitute the essence of software diagnostics that previously lacked any solid foundation. Thus, Software Diagnostics Institute was reborn from the previous Crash Dump Analysis Portal. This institute does pure and applied research and scientific activities and in recent years was funded mainly from OpenTask publisher and recently from Memory Dump Analysis Services. The latter company also recognized that the broadening of its commercial activities requires a new name. So, Software Diagnostics Services was reborn:

The First Comprehensive Software Diagnostics Service

- Dmitry Vostokov @ + -

Moving to ARM

Monday, February 21st, 2011

With Windows moving to ARM platforms I’m learning ARM assembly language and system programming. Being mostly exposed to PDP-11, VAX-11 and Intel architectures my interest in ARM systems began with porting my old project to Windows Mobile and writing a tool called WindowHistory Mobile to assist me in debugging. I remember how I was surprised when WinDbg was able to open a crash dump and show ARM code! Then I put it aside. Now with Windows Mobile 7 and Windows 8 approaching with its support of ARM I decided to resume my ARM studies and highly recommend this book:

ARM System Developer’s Guide: Designing and Optimizing System Software

My renewed interest in assembly language also coincides with joining Linkedin Assembly language coders group.

I also plan to create a separate version of my popular Windows Debugging: Practical Foundations book with ARM examples and an ARM section on Asmpedia. If time and resources permit, of course.

- Dmitry Vostokov @ + -

WindowHistory Mobile (new release)

Wednesday, November 22nd, 2006

WindowHistory Mobile edition has been updated. It replaces the previous version of WindowHistory CE/Mobile 2.1 and now available in two separate executables: for Windows Mobile 5.0 (ARMV4I) and Windows Pocket PC 2003 (ARMV4). It has been tested under emulators, Acer n300 (480×640 screen) and mobile phone Mio A701 (240×320 screen). Here are screenshots from Windows Mobile 5.0 emulator:



The tool also includes Easter Egg (activate soft keyboard, click on and then click on About button. The following window appears with scrolling text of contributors and special thanks):


- Dmitry Vostokov -

Horrors of debugging legacy code

Wednesday, November 8th, 2006

We all know that macro definitions in C and C++ are evil. They cause maintenance nightmares by introducing subtle bugs. I never took that seriously until last weekend I was debugging my old code written 10 years ago which uses macros written 15 years ago :-) 

My Windows Mobile 5.0 application was crashing when I was using POOM COM interfaces (Pocket Outlook Object Model). The crash never pointed to my code. It always happened after pimstore.dll and other MS modules were loaded and COM interfaces started to return errors. I first suspected that I was using POOM incorrectly and rewrote all code several times and in different ways. No luck. Then I tried PoomMaster sample from Windows Mobile 5.0 SDK and it worked well. So I rewrote my code in exactly the same way as in that sample. No luck. My last hope was that moving code from my DLL to EXE (as in sample SDK project) would eliminate crashes but it didn’t help too. Then I slowly started to realize that the problem might have been in my old code and I also noticed that one old piece of code had never been used before. So I started debugging by elimination (commenting out less and less code) until I found a macro. I had to stare at it for couple of minutes until I realized that one pair of brackets was missing and that caused allocating less memory and worse: the returned pointer to allocated memory was multiplied by 2! So the net result was the pointer pointing to other modules and subsequent string copy was effectively overwriting their memory and eventually causing crashes inside MS dlls.  

Here is that legacy macro:

#define ALLOC(t, p, s)
((p)=(t)GlobalLock(GlobalAlloc(GHND, (s))))

It allocates memory and returns a pointer. It should have been called like this (size parameter is highlighted in blue):

if (ALLOC(LPWSTR,lpm->lpszEvents,
lstrcpy(lpm->lpszEvents, lpszMacro);

What I found is the missing bracket before lstrlen and last enclosing bracket (size parameter is highlighted in red):

if (ALLOC(LPWSTR,lpm->lpszEvents,
lstrcpy(lpm->lpszEvents, lpszMacro);

The resulted code after macro expansion looks like this

if (lpm->lpszEvents=(LPWSTR)GlobalLock(GlobalAlloc(GHND,

You see that the pointer to allocated memory is multiplied by two and string copy is performed to a random place in the address space of other loaded dlls corrupting their data and causing the process to crash later.

- Dmitry Vostokov -

Applying API Wrapper Pattern

Monday, October 30th, 2006

Recently I had been porting my old Win32 legacy project (more than 100,000 lines) to Windows Mobile. Here I summarize the approach I used and I can say now that it was very successful (no single crash since I finished my porting - the original Win32 program was very stable indeed but we all know that hidden bugs surface or introduced when project is ported to another platform). The project was written in Windows 3.x 16-bit era and then it was already ported to Win32 in Windows 95 era. Win32 interface is huge and it contains many legacy Win16 functions (mainly for easy portability and compatibility with existing Win16 code base). The following UML component diagram depicts application dependencies on many Win32 API and runtime libraries from build perspective:

Windows Mobile (in essence Windows CE) has smaller interface and many functions available in Win32 API (especially legacy Win16) and many C runtime functions are absent. My project uses many such functions (due to its history) so the interface becomes broken. The following UML component diagram depicts this dependency:

First I ported my project to use UNICODE strings and UNICODE function equivalents throughout. This was a huge task already. Then instead of further rewriting my code which uses many absent functions and therefore quite possibly to introduce new bugs due to changed semantics I decided to apply a variant of Adapter or Wrapper pattern (for non-object-oriented API). My application now still uses old functions but links to a set of libraries translating these calls into existing Windows CE API. The following UML component depicts the final component infrastructure from build perspective:

Here is the list of functions I had to translate:

- RegEmu.lib: translates INI file calls into registry

  • GetProfileString
  • GetProfileInt
  • GetPrivateProfileString
  • GetPrivateProfileInt
  • WriteProfileString
  • WritePrivateProfileString

- FileEmu.lib: various file system related calls

  • _lcreatW
  • _lopenW
  • OpenFileW
  • WinExecW
  • _wsplitpath
  • _wsplitpathparam
  • _waccess
  • _wmkdir
  • _wrename
  • _wfindfirst
  • _wfindnext
  • _findclose
  • _wunlink
  • _wrmdir
  • _llseek
  • _lclose
  • _hread
  • _hwrite
  • _lread
  • _lwrite
  • _wstat
  • _wgetcwd
  • _wmakepath
  • _chdrive
  • _wchdir
  • ShellExecute
  • GetWindowsDirectory
  • GetSystemDirectory

- GdiEmu.lib: various graphics functions

  • SetMapMode
  • CreateFont
  • CreateDIBitmap

- UserEmu.lib: various UI related functions

  • GetKeyNameText
  • GetScrollPos
  • GetScrollRange
  • GetLastActivePopup
  • IsIconic
  • IsZoomed
  • IsBadStringPtr
  • IsMenu
  • VkKeyScan
  • GetKeyboardState
  • SetKeyboardState
  • ToAscii
  • MulDiv

PS. If you are interested in applying patterns to your C++ projects or simply in using them to describe your design and architecture these books are good place to start:

Design Patterns: Elements of Reusable Object-Oriented Software

Buy from Amazon

Pattern-Oriented Software Architecture, Volume 1: A System of Patterns

Buy from Amazon

Pattern-Oriented Software Architecture, Volume 2, Patterns for Concurrent and Networked Objects

Buy from Amazon

- Dmitry Vostokov -

WindowHistory Mobile

Friday, September 15th, 2006

During development of one of my projects for Windows Mobile I needed full information about windows on my pocket PC devices. I needed that information gathered in real-time and when I was not connected to my host PC so I couldn’t use remote SPY++ from MS Windows CE tools. The decision was to port existing Citrix WindowHistory tool to Windows CE. It worked well and I tested it on Windows Pocket PC 2003 emulator and on real devices running Windows Mobile 5.0 (Acer n300 and mobile phone Mio A701 both have ARM processors). It should work on any other mobile device powered by ARM/XScale processor.

- Dmitry Vostokov -