LoadLibrary() can’t load a DLL, and have no clue why?

How do you link or load a DLL file?
My approach is to link a stub *.lib file to a host project. This approach supports best of dynamic load and static load. In other words, each DLL files can be maintained independently, while it is very easy to figure out what functions are not found properly and what functions are in conflict, etc.

However, if you really want to write a host program which can support plug-ins such that each plug-ins can be dropped in a given folder and the host program recognize the plug-in on the fly and starts to provide functionality defined in the plug-ins, you will want more dynamic approach.

Yes. MFC/Win32 provides such approach. With LoadLibrary(), anywhere in your source codes, DLL files can be loaded. Then you can define some common interface/parent class for pluggable architecture.
Neat, isn’t it?
However, there is one problem with LoadLibrary(). It can be difficult to troubleshoot. For example, if your DLL file can’t be loaded, you will check if the search path is correct, if the DLL file is really there, and so on. However, what if all those which affect visibility of the DLL are satisfied but the LoadLibrary() still fails?

Let’s take a look at such codes here.

// JongAm
// Let's try loading "Mediabase.dll". Why the hell WBMediabase started failing in finding the dll?

// Enable the line below to see what is wrong with LoadLibrary()
//SetErrorMode( 0 );

HMODULE dynamicLibrary_Handle = LoadLibrary( _T("MediaBase.dll") );

if( dynamicLibrary_Handle )
{
	AfxMessageBox( _T("Successful in finding Mediabase.dll") );
	TRACE( "Successful\n" );
}
else
{
	int lastError = GetLastError();

	CString message;
	message.Format( _T("Failed in finding Mediabase.dll (%d)"), lastError );
	AfxMessageBox( message );

	TRACE( "Can't find the mediabase.dll\n" );
}

Nothing special, right? However, it failed on me. Why? Later I found out that MediaBase.dll also required other DLL files, and those DLL files also require other DLLs. They are all loaded using LoadLibrary() functions. So, they were not detected with Dependency Walker. Hmmmm….
So, whenever you write LoadLibrary(), it is better to provide some feedback message when it fails loading DLL files like “Failed in loading Blah Blah.dll”.

However, what if you already have a few 3rd parth DLL files which you can’t control?
In such case, there is a really handy diagnosis function. It is the SetErrorMode(). If 0 is passed as its parameter, it will display a message box which tells what is wrong, like “X.dll is missing”.
So, for example, when you load a A.dll using LoadLibrary() but the A.dll also load A-1.dll and the A-1.dll loads A-2.dll and the A-2.dll is missing, the SetErrorMode(0) will make a message box which says “A-2.dll is missing” displayed.

Here are a few screenshots.

When a DLL file required by the designated Mediabase.dll is missing

When the designated DLL file, Mediabase.dll, itself can't be found.

When all DLL file dependency are resolved

Wow.. quite helpful, isn’t it?

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One response to this post.

  1. Good stuff, thank you!!

    Reply

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