These Aren't the COM Objects You're Looking For

Speaker: Victor Ciura

Audience level:


   Windows COM is 25 years old. Yet it is relevant today more than ever, because Microsoft has bet its entire modern WinRT API on it (starting with Windows 8/10). But, if you’re familiar with the “old” COM with its idioms and SDK helper classes, you’re in for a treat. With the advent of modern C++ 17, using COM objects and new Windows APIs in your applications feels like a completely new experience.

   In this session, we’ll explore how using modern C++ features such as variadic templates, lambdas, fold expressions, auto, structured bindings, tuple, string_views, type traits, smart pointers (and others) can radically transform the shape of your COM code. By eliminating a lot of boilerplate, your code will be much more readable and maintainable. Classic COM idioms around activation and QueryInterface() can feel totally different with modern C++ helpers. A beautiful example of modern COM usage is C++/WinRT (now part of Windows SDK). This is a standard C++ language projection for the new Windows Runtime API.

   COM memory management, data marshalling, string handling can all feel quite mechanical in nature and very error prone, so a little help from modern C++ facilities would be more than welcomed. Error handling and debugging can be cumbersome for COM like APIs; we’ll explore some tricks to improve this experience, as well.

   The techniques presented are not COM specific (although many examples will be) and we can easily apply them to modernizing similar older libraries or construct convenience modern C++ wrappers to facilitate their usage in client code.