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Thread: UDT to String and Vice-Versa

  1. #1

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    UDT to String and Vice-Versa

    EDIT001: I didn't initially correct for Unicode-to-ANSI string conversions when calling CopyMemory API, but that's now fixed. It wouldn't matter if your fixed-length-strings contained only ANSI, but it's now more universal (correctly handling Unicode).
    EDIT002: Added another set of procedures to do it by pointer, which allows the procedures to not care about the actual UDT declaration.

    This occasionally comes up when we need to get a UDT into a String, and back again. We may want to do this for inter-process communications, or maybe to easily get it into a Variant or Collection, or several other reasons.

    One way is to serialize it with a named pipe. This is effectively the same as writing the UDT to a file, and then opening the file as Binary and reading in the bytes, and then stuffing them into a String.

    However, it doesn't need to be this complicated. We can just directly copy the UDT into our string. And that's what I've outlined. As a note, any internal and/or external padding should be handled just fine, as LenB picks that up.

    Here's some code for a BAS module to do this:
    Code:
    
    Option Explicit
    '
    Private Declare Sub CopyMemory Lib "kernel32" Alias "RtlMoveMemory" (ByRef Destination As Any, ByRef Source As Any, ByVal Length As Long)
    '
    Public Type TestUdtType
        s1 As String * 5
        s2 As String * 5
        i1 As Long
        d1 As Double
    End Type
    '
    
    Public Function StringFromUdt(u As TestUdtType) As String
        StringFromUdt = String$((LenB(u) + 1&) \ 2&, vbNullChar)
        CopyMemory ByVal StrPtr(StringFromUdt), ByVal VarPtr(u), LenB(u)     ' On odd length UDTs, it won't completely fill the last Unicode character, but that's fine.
    End Function
    
    Public Function UdtFromString(s As String) As TestUdtType
        If Len(s) <> (LenB(UdtFromString) + 1&) \ 2& Then Err.Raise 13&, , "String isn't correct length for this UDT"
        CopyMemory ByVal VarPtr(UdtFromString), ByVal StrPtr(s), LenB(UdtFromString)
    End Function
    
    
    
    And here's some test code for a Form1:
    Code:
    
    Option Explicit
    
    Private Sub Form_Load()
        Dim u As TestUdtType
        u.s1 = "asdf"
        u.s2 = "qwer"
        u.i1 = 1234
        u.d1 = 5.678
    
        Dim v As Variant
        v = StringFromUdt(u)
        Debug.Print v
        Dim u2 As TestUdtType
        u2 = UdtFromString(CStr(v))
        Debug.Print u2.s1, u2.s2, u2.i1, u2.d1
    
    End Sub
    
    
    Ok yes, I understand that this is specific to any particular UDT. But that's sort of always the case with these UDTs. To use this, just patch in your UDT declaration (instead of the "Public Type TestUdtType" declaration), and then search-and-replace all occurrences of TestUdtType with the name of your UDT, and you're all set.

    In fact, if you've got several UDTs you wish to do this with, you can just make multiple copies of the StringFromUdt and UdtFromString functions, and name them different names to denote your UDT names.

    -----------

    This isn't complicated stuff, but it is something that comes up somewhat often.

    Also, as a caveat, you probably shouldn't do this with UDTs that contain pointers (to BSTR Strings, objects, and/or dynamic arrays). It will still work, but UDTs with pointers must be handled with great care when copying them in any way other than a regular Let statement.

    ****************************
    ****************************

    And, as discussed below, here it is all done with pointers (to make it more generic with respect to the actual UDT):
    Code:
    
    Option Explicit
    '
    Private Declare Sub CopyMemory Lib "kernel32" Alias "RtlMoveMemory" (ByRef Destination As Any, ByRef Source As Any, ByVal Length As Long)
    '
    
    Public Function StringFromUdtViaPtr(PtrToUdt As Long, LenBofUdt As Long) As String
        StringFromUdtViaPtr = String$((LenBofUdt + 1&) \ 2&, vbNullChar)
        CopyMemory ByVal StrPtr(StringFromUdtViaPtr), ByVal PtrToUdt, LenBofUdt     ' On odd length UDTs, it won't completely fill the last Unicode character, but that's fine.
    End Function
    
    Public Sub UdtFromStringViaPtr(PtrToUdt As Long, LenBofUdt As Long, s As String)
        If Len(s) <> (LenBofUdt + 1&) \ 2& Then Err.Raise 13&, , "String isn't correct length for this UDT"
        CopyMemory ByVal PtrToUdt, ByVal StrPtr(s), LenBofUdt
    End Sub
    
    
    And a bit of test code for a Form1, to show how to use it:
    Code:
    
    Option Explicit
    '
    Private Type TestUdtType
        s1 As String * 5
        s2 As String * 5
        i1 As Long
        d1 As Double
    End Type
    
    Private Sub Form_Load()
        Dim u As TestUdtType
        u.s1 = "asdf"
        u.s2 = "qwer"
        u.i1 = 1234
        u.d1 = 5.678
    
        Dim s As String
        s = StringFromUdtViaPtr(VarPtr(u), LenB(u))
        Dim u2 As TestUdtType
        Call UdtFromStringViaPtr(VarPtr(u2), LenB(u2), s)
        Debug.Print u2.s1, u2.s2, u2.i1, u2.d1
    
    End Sub
    
    
    
    Notice that I pulled the UDT declaration over to the form, because the conversion procedures don't need it when it's done this way.
    Last edited by Elroy; Jul 1st, 2022 at 04:04 PM.
    Any software I post in these forums written by me is provided “AS IS” without warranty of any kind, expressed or implied, and permission is hereby granted, free of charge and without restriction, to any person obtaining a copy. Please understand that I’ve been programming since the mid-1970s and still have some of that code. My contemporary VB6 project is approaching 1,000 modules. In addition, I have a “VB6 random code folder” that is overflowing. I’ve been at this long enough to truly not know with absolute certainty from whence every single line of my code has come, with much of it coming from programmers under my employ who signed intellectual property transfers. I have not deliberately attempted to remove any licenses and/or attributions from any software. If someone finds that I have inadvertently done so, I sincerely apologize, and, upon notice and reasonable proof, will re-attach those licenses and/or attributions. To all, peace and happiness.

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    Re: UDT to String and Vice-Versa

    If you're willing to live with a minor performance hit, you can write a version of the routine that takes a variant and gets the memory location out of that:

    ' Get the address of the UDT, stored in bytes 9-12 of the variant
    CopyMemoryByAddr ByVal VarPtr(lngUDTAddress), ByVal VarPtr(varUDT) + 8, 4

    Maybe check for VarType equal to vbUserDefinedType to be safe.

    You'd have to do a pass by reference for the generic UdtFromString:

    Public Sub UdtFromString(ByRef varUdt as Variant, s As String)
    Last edited by ahenry; Jul 1st, 2022 at 10:08 AM.

  3. #3

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    Re: UDT to String and Vice-Versa

    Quote Originally Posted by ahenry View Post
    If you're willing to live with a minor performance hit, you can write a version of the routine that takes a variant and gets the memory location out of that:

    ' Get the address of the UDT, stored in bytes 9-12 of the variant
    CopyMemoryByAddr ByVal VarPtr(lngUDTAddress), ByVal VarPtr(varUDT) + 8, 4

    Maybe check for VarType equal to vbUserDefinedType to be safe.

    You'd have to do a pass by reference for the generic UdtFromString:

    Public Sub UdtFromString(ByRef varUdt as Variant, s As String)
    Hi ahenry,

    I'm not exactly sure what you're getting at, but it's fairly easy to use this to get a UDT into a Variant, and vice-versa:

    Code:
    
    Option Explicit
    
    Private Sub Form_Load()
        Dim u As TestUdtType
        u.s1 = "asdf"
        u.s2 = "qwer"
        u.i1 = 1234
        u.d1 = 5.678
    
    
    
        Dim v As Variant
        v = StringFromUdt(u)
        Dim u2 As TestUdtType
        u2 = UdtFromString(CStr(v))
        Debug.Print u2.s1, u2.s2, u2.i1, u2.d1
    
    End Sub
    
    
    Also, you can have variants inside your UDT, so long as those variants don't have pointers in them ... in other words, the data is contained within the 16 bytes of the Variant (no BSTR strings, no arrays, no objects).
    Any software I post in these forums written by me is provided “AS IS” without warranty of any kind, expressed or implied, and permission is hereby granted, free of charge and without restriction, to any person obtaining a copy. Please understand that I’ve been programming since the mid-1970s and still have some of that code. My contemporary VB6 project is approaching 1,000 modules. In addition, I have a “VB6 random code folder” that is overflowing. I’ve been at this long enough to truly not know with absolute certainty from whence every single line of my code has come, with much of it coming from programmers under my employ who signed intellectual property transfers. I have not deliberately attempted to remove any licenses and/or attributions from any software. If someone finds that I have inadvertently done so, I sincerely apologize, and, upon notice and reasonable proof, will re-attach those licenses and/or attributions. To all, peace and happiness.

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    Re: UDT to String and Vice-Versa

    I'm saying with a bit of overhead you can have generic versions of these two functions instead of writing one for each udt type.

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    Re: UDT to String and Vice-Versa

    So:
    Code:
    Public Function StringFromUdt(u As Variant) As String
        Dim lngUDTAddress As Long
        StringFromUdt = String$((LenB(u) + 1&) \ 2&, vbNullChar)
        CopyMemory ByVal VarPtr(lngUDTAddress), ByVal VarPtr(u) + 8, 4
        CopyMemory ByVal StrPtr(StringFromUdt), ByVal lngUDTAddress, LenB(u)     ' On odd length UDTs, it won't completely fill the last Unicode character, but that's fine.
    End Function
    
    Public Sub UdtFromString(ByRef u As Variant, s As String)
        Dim lngUDTAddress As Long
        If Len(s) <> (LenB(u) + 1&) \ 2& Then Err.Raise 13&, , "String isn't correct length for this UDT"
        CopyMemory ByVal VarPtr(lngUDTAddress), ByVal VarPtr(u) + 8, 4
        CopyMemory ByVal lngUDTAddress, ByVal StrPtr(s), LenB(u)
    End Sub
    But I forgot why I hate dealing with UDTs - they have to be in a type library or public class to put them in a variant. So the generic way is still a pain. Plus you have to use byte arrays instead of fixed-length strings.
    Last edited by ahenry; Jul 1st, 2022 at 12:09 PM.

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    Angel of Code Niya's Avatar
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    Re: UDT to String and Vice-Versa

    I think this is a more complicated than it needs to be. UDT serialization could be generalized to a form that could work on any UDT:-
    Code:
    Private Function UDTToByteArray(ByVal udtPtr As Long, ByVal size As Long) As Byte()
        
        Dim data() As Byte
        ReDim data(0 To size - 1)
        
        CopyMemory VarPtr(data(0)), udtPtr, size
        UDTToByteArray = data
    End Function
    
    Private Sub ByteArrayToUDT(udtData() As Byte, ByVal udtPtr As Long)
        CopyMemory udtPtr, VarPtr(udtData(0)), UBound(udtData) + 1
    End Sub
    Example of usage:-
    Code:
    Private Sub Form_Load()
    
        Dim udt As TestUDT
        Dim copy As TestUDT
        Dim ar() As Byte
        Dim s As String
        
        
        udt.a = "Hello!"
        udt.b = 9012
        udt.c = 12.7789
        
        'Serialize the UDT and convert to a String
        s = UDTToByteArray(VarPtr(udt), LenB(udt))
        
        'Convert back to byte array
        ar = s
        
        'Convert back to UDT
        ByteArrayToUDT ar, VarPtr(copy)
        
        Debug.Print copy.a
        Debug.Print copy.b
        Debug.Print copy.c
        
    End Sub
    This way we don't need multiple copies of the same functions to serialize and deserialize different UDTs.
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    C++ programmers will dismiss you as a cretinous simpleton for your inability to keep track of pointers chained 6 levels deep and Java programmers will pillory you for buying into the evils of Microsoft. Meanwhile C# programmers will get paid just a little bit more than you for writing exactly the same code and VB6 programmers will continue to whitter on about "footprints". - FunkyDexter

    There's just no reason to use garbage like InputBox. - jmcilhinney

    The threads I start are Niya and Olaf free zones. No arguing about the benefits of VB6 over .NET here please. Happiness must reign. - yereverluvinuncleber

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    Re: UDT to String and Vice-Versa

    Passing VarPtr as a parameter isn't particularly elegant, but I remember doing that in the past for this very situation, and it's certainly easier than dealing with public UDTs.

  8. #8

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    Re: UDT to String and Vice-Versa

    Quote Originally Posted by ahenry View Post
    Passing VarPtr as a parameter isn't particularly elegant, but I remember doing that in the past for this very situation, and it's certainly easier than dealing with public UDTs.
    Actually, passing VarPtr as well as LenB could make it generic. Maybe I'll work that up.

    Passing VarPtr alone though, we'd have no way of knowing our length.

    ----------------

    Hmm, that'd get us one direction, but not the other. Not a good way of getting back from a String to our UDT. Or, I guess we could do it as a Sub rather than a function.
    Any software I post in these forums written by me is provided “AS IS” without warranty of any kind, expressed or implied, and permission is hereby granted, free of charge and without restriction, to any person obtaining a copy. Please understand that I’ve been programming since the mid-1970s and still have some of that code. My contemporary VB6 project is approaching 1,000 modules. In addition, I have a “VB6 random code folder” that is overflowing. I’ve been at this long enough to truly not know with absolute certainty from whence every single line of my code has come, with much of it coming from programmers under my employ who signed intellectual property transfers. I have not deliberately attempted to remove any licenses and/or attributions from any software. If someone finds that I have inadvertently done so, I sincerely apologize, and, upon notice and reasonable proof, will re-attach those licenses and/or attributions. To all, peace and happiness.

  9. #9

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    Re: UDT to String and Vice-Versa

    Quote Originally Posted by ahenry View Post
    Passing VarPtr as a parameter
    Done. See OP.
    Any software I post in these forums written by me is provided “AS IS” without warranty of any kind, expressed or implied, and permission is hereby granted, free of charge and without restriction, to any person obtaining a copy. Please understand that I’ve been programming since the mid-1970s and still have some of that code. My contemporary VB6 project is approaching 1,000 modules. In addition, I have a “VB6 random code folder” that is overflowing. I’ve been at this long enough to truly not know with absolute certainty from whence every single line of my code has come, with much of it coming from programmers under my employ who signed intellectual property transfers. I have not deliberately attempted to remove any licenses and/or attributions from any software. If someone finds that I have inadvertently done so, I sincerely apologize, and, upon notice and reasonable proof, will re-attach those licenses and/or attributions. To all, peace and happiness.

  10. #10

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    Re: UDT to String and Vice-Versa

    Quote Originally Posted by Niya View Post
    UDT serialization...
    Hi Niya. I'm not sure I'd want to call this serialization. Many people tend to think that means what happens when we write them to a file, and this is different. It's really just copying the whole UDT into a string without respect to what's in it (and vice-versa).

    Olaf has worked out some procedures for true (in memory) UDT serialization using named pipes. The only advantage to those is that they remove any UDT padding. They also convert any fixed length strings to ANSI (which may or may not be an advantage). I suspect what I'm doing is a bit faster than messing with a pipe.
    Any software I post in these forums written by me is provided “AS IS” without warranty of any kind, expressed or implied, and permission is hereby granted, free of charge and without restriction, to any person obtaining a copy. Please understand that I’ve been programming since the mid-1970s and still have some of that code. My contemporary VB6 project is approaching 1,000 modules. In addition, I have a “VB6 random code folder” that is overflowing. I’ve been at this long enough to truly not know with absolute certainty from whence every single line of my code has come, with much of it coming from programmers under my employ who signed intellectual property transfers. I have not deliberately attempted to remove any licenses and/or attributions from any software. If someone finds that I have inadvertently done so, I sincerely apologize, and, upon notice and reasonable proof, will re-attach those licenses and/or attributions. To all, peace and happiness.

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    Re: UDT to String and Vice-Versa

    Quote Originally Posted by Elroy View Post
    Hi Niya. I'm not sure I'd want to call this serialization.
    Actually, outside of the world of VB6 what you're doing here is referred to as serialization. Here is the Wikipedia definition:-

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serialization
    In computing, serialization (US and Oxford spelling) or serialisation (UK spelling) is the process of translating a data structure or object state into a format that can be stored (for example, in a file or memory data buffer) or transmitted (for example, over a computer network) and reconstructed later (possibly in a different computer environment).
    Here is the .Net definition:-
    https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/dot...serialization/
    Serialization is the process of converting the state of an object into a form that can be persisted or transported. The complement of serialization is deserialization, which converts a stream into an object. Together, these processes allow data to be stored and transferred.
    In the world of Python:-
    https://docs.python-guide.org/scenarios/serialization/
    Data serialization is the process of converting structured data to a format that allows sharing or storage of the data in a form that allows recovery of its original structure.
    I've highlighted in red the core idea which is found in all definitions. The mere act of converting an object's internal state in a specific environment to something more generalized like a byte array, String, JSON or XML, is referred to as serialization.
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    Re: UDT to String and Vice-Versa

    Also, for those of you who are interested in TwinBASIC, you would be happy to know that this can be generalized very neatly in that language using generics. Example:-
    Code:
        Private Function UdtToByteArray(Of T)(ByRef udt As T) As Byte()
            Dim size As Long = LenB(udt)
            Dim ar() As Byte
    
            ReDim ar(0 To size - 1)
    
            CopyMemory VarPtr(ar(0)), VarPtr(udt), size
            Return ar
        End Function
    
        Private Sub ByteArrayToUdt(Of T)(ByRef udtData() As Byte, ByRef udt As T)
            CopyMemory VarPtr(udt), VarPtr(udtData(LBound(udtData))), LenB(udt)
        End Sub
    Full TwinBASIC example:-
    Code:
    [ Description ("") ]
    [ FormDesignerId ("5388E6BD-2A4A-42C6-A9B2-FA1293CCEE2B") ]
    [ PredeclaredId ]
    Class Form1
    
        Private Declare Sub CopyMemory Lib "kernel32" Alias "RtlMoveMemory" (ByVal Dest As LongPtr, ByVal Source As LongPtr, ByVal Length As Long)
    
        Private Type TestUDT
        	a As string * 5
            b As integer
            c As single
        End Type
    
    
        Sub New()
        End Sub
        
        Private Sub Form_Load() Handles Form.Load
    
            Dim data As TestUDT
            Dim copy As TestUDT
            Dim ar() As Byte
            
            data.a = "Hello"
            data.b = 7811
            data.c = 34.667
    
            'Serialize to byte array
            ar = UdtToByteArray(data)
    
            'Deserialize from byte array into a copy
            ByteArrayToUdt ar, copy
    
            Debug.Print copy.a
            Debug.Print copy.b
            Debug.Print copy.c
            
    
        End Sub
    
        Private Function UdtToByteArray(Of T)(ByRef udt As T) As Byte()
            Dim size As Long = LenB(udt)
            Dim ar() As Byte
    
            ReDim ar(0 To size - 1)
    
            CopyMemory VarPtr(ar(0)), VarPtr(udt), size
            Return ar
        End Function
    
        Private Sub ByteArrayToUdt(Of T)(ByRef udtData() As Byte, ByRef udt As T)
            CopyMemory VarPtr(udt), VarPtr(udtData(LBound(udtData))), LenB(udt)
        End Sub
    
    
    End Class
    No need to pass in pointers and the size of the UDT.
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    C++ programmers will dismiss you as a cretinous simpleton for your inability to keep track of pointers chained 6 levels deep and Java programmers will pillory you for buying into the evils of Microsoft. Meanwhile C# programmers will get paid just a little bit more than you for writing exactly the same code and VB6 programmers will continue to whitter on about "footprints". - FunkyDexter

    There's just no reason to use garbage like InputBox. - jmcilhinney

    The threads I start are Niya and Olaf free zones. No arguing about the benefits of VB6 over .NET here please. Happiness must reign. - yereverluvinuncleber

  13. #13

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    Re: UDT to String and Vice-Versa

    Quote Originally Posted by Niya View Post
    Actually, outside of the world of VB6 what you're doing here is referred to as serialization.
    haha, ok, you've convinced me ... we're serializing.
    Any software I post in these forums written by me is provided “AS IS” without warranty of any kind, expressed or implied, and permission is hereby granted, free of charge and without restriction, to any person obtaining a copy. Please understand that I’ve been programming since the mid-1970s and still have some of that code. My contemporary VB6 project is approaching 1,000 modules. In addition, I have a “VB6 random code folder” that is overflowing. I’ve been at this long enough to truly not know with absolute certainty from whence every single line of my code has come, with much of it coming from programmers under my employ who signed intellectual property transfers. I have not deliberately attempted to remove any licenses and/or attributions from any software. If someone finds that I have inadvertently done so, I sincerely apologize, and, upon notice and reasonable proof, will re-attach those licenses and/or attributions. To all, peace and happiness.

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    Re: UDT to String and Vice-Versa

    The pipe serilization can handle all the complexities that udts support like non fixed length strings,
    Variant arrays that contain different types etc. the get/put support in the runtime is actually pretty amazing in what it supports. Fixed length strings aren’t that common in udts I don’t imagine. Probably won’t handle byte arrays unless fixed size.

    Have to pretty careful with your udt design here. To bad there isn’t an easy way for the functions to validate udt member types for people not familiar with the nuances.
    Last edited by dz32; Jul 2nd, 2022 at 07:44 PM.

  15. #15
    Angel of Code Niya's Avatar
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    Re: UDT to String and Vice-Versa

    Quote Originally Posted by Elroy View Post
    haha, ok, you've convinced me ... we're serializing.
    I'm not saying that you were wrong. It's just that the "saving to disk" part is implied because why else would we convert and object's state to something like XML. It's ok to refer to the conversion process as serialization.
    Treeview with NodeAdded/NodesRemoved events | BlinkLabel control | Calculate Permutations | Object Enums | ComboBox with centered items | .Net Internals article(not mine) | Wizard Control | Understanding Multi-Threading | Simple file compression | Demon Arena

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    C++ programmers will dismiss you as a cretinous simpleton for your inability to keep track of pointers chained 6 levels deep and Java programmers will pillory you for buying into the evils of Microsoft. Meanwhile C# programmers will get paid just a little bit more than you for writing exactly the same code and VB6 programmers will continue to whitter on about "footprints". - FunkyDexter

    There's just no reason to use garbage like InputBox. - jmcilhinney

    The threads I start are Niya and Olaf free zones. No arguing about the benefits of VB6 over .NET here please. Happiness must reign. - yereverluvinuncleber

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