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Control References

Posted on 2006-07-18
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Last Modified: 2010-04-16
How do I get a reference to a control on an application separate from the one I'm writing (non-Microsoft, meaning not MS Word, etc.)?

Here's what I need to do...
1)  Get a list of all Windows applications running (all visible).
2)  Get a list of controls from a particular application (selected from #1 above).
3)  Get a reference to one of the controls in #2 above.
4)  Get and set the value in the control.
5)  Keep track of which control has focus.

Thanks for any suggestions!!
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Question by:scottmichael2
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by:AlexFM
AlexFM earned 450 total points
ID: 17129831
For .NET applications you can use Managed Spy Library:
http://msdn.microsoft.com/msdnmag/issues/06/04/ManagedSpy/

For unmanaged applications you need to write this in unmanaged C++ or using PInvoke API calls from C#.
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by:scottmichael2
ID: 17131324
Does anyone have an example of doing this is C# (for unmanaged apps)?  I believe most of what I'm dealing with will be unmanaged.  Thanks!
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by:
BBK_ earned 1050 total points
ID: 17146457
I don't have the sample code for it, but i can guide u


For step1
you can use "EnumWindows" API which will give you all the windows opened in a callback function.

For Step2

You have to iterate thru the selected window only thru the Handle of the selected window in step1

For Step3 & Step4 & Step5
  You can't create an instance of a control,which is in another window, rather it that window is a control that has window Handle then you can manipulate that control's property

eg: if you want to change the text, use windows API SetWindowText().
If the control that you are looking does not have Window handle then you can't acces to that control.

Unless you have the Window handle of any contols, you can't do anything to that.




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by:scottmichael2
ID: 17146793
"If the control that you are looking does not have Window handle then you can't acces to that control."

I guess this means Java apps are out of the question, right?  All I can seem to get is a reference to the parent Window (no children are exposed).  Any ideas on how to tackle this one?
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by:BBK_
BBK_ earned 1050 total points
ID: 17151549
There is an easy way to find to see a window has a handle or not,

I think you have Spy ++ application in your machine(Which comes with Visual Studio).
Using this we can find the Controls inside a window.

You try with Spy++, that will give you a good understainding about the Child window and it's handle
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by:scottmichael2
ID: 17186854
It looks like Spy simply gives you the parent Window information.  Nothing internal seems to be captured (just the parent hwnd and global mouse, keyboard info).
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by:scottmichael2
ID: 17186866
Let me clarify that last post - this seems to be true with Java applications.  With Windows applications I can get the hwnd of the individual Windows as well (such as controls).
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