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Console Application Runner Classes Example 1: ExecAndWait

Applies to: ~>3.0

You will no doubt have seen a lot of code on the Internet that shows how to execute a console application and wait for it to complete. It will probably look something like this:

function ExecAndWait(const CommandLine: string): Boolean;
  StartupInfo: Windows.TStartupInfo;     // start-up info passed to process
  ProcessInfo: Windows.TProcessInformation; // info about the process
  ProcessExitCode: Windows.DWord;           // process's exit code
  // Set default error result
  Result := False;
  // Initialise startup info structure to 0, and record length
  FillChar(StartupInfo, SizeOf(StartupInfo), 0);
  StartupInfo.cb := SizeOf(StartupInfo);
  // Execute application commandline
  if Windows.CreateProcess(nil, PChar(CommandLine),
    nil, nil, False, 0, nil, nil,
    StartupInfo, ProcessInfo) then
      // Now wait for application to complete
      if Windows.WaitForSingleObject(ProcessInfo.hProcess, INFINITE)
        = WAIT_OBJECT_0 then
        // It's completed - get its exit code
        if Windows.GetExitCodeProcess(ProcessInfo.hProcess,
          ProcessExitCode) then
          // Check exit code is zero => successful completion
          if ProcessExitCode = 0 then
            Result := True;
      // Tidy up

With the use if infinite waiting for the console application to complete, we can achieve the same result using TPJConsoleApp as follows:

function ExecAndWait2(const CommandLine: string): Boolean;
  App: TPJConsoleApp;
  App := TPJConsoleApp.Create;
    App.MaxExecTime := INFINITE;  // don't time out
    App.TimeSlice := INFINITE;    // timeout for WaitForSingleObject
    App.Visible := True;          // ensure we see the app
    if App.Execute(CommandLine) then
      Result := App.ExitCode = 0  // app executed OK � check its exit code
      Result := False;            // app didn't execute

This is a little crude - the TPJConsoleApp class can do a lot better than this. Using code like this isn’t recommended.

One problem with the above code is that, if you run the console app from a GUI application, your GUI locks up until the console app completes.

Try it. Using Delphi, create a new GUI application. First copy the above code for ExecAndWait and ExecAndWait2 into the form unit’s implementation section. Now drop two buttons on the main form and add the following OnClick event handlers:

procedure TForm1.Button1Click(Sender: TObject);
  if not ExecAndWait('Timed 3') then  // runs Timed.exe for 3 seconds.
    ShowMessage('Non-zero error code or application could not be executed');

procedure TForm1.Button2Click(Sender: TObject);
  if not ExecAndWait2('Timed 3') then // runs Timed.exe for 3 seconds.
    ShowMessage('Non-zero error code or application could not be executed');

Run the application. Click either button. The console application will run. Try switching back to the application while the console application is running. You can’t can you?

We’ve used an application called Timed.exe here that takes a parameter that tells it how many seconds to run. You can use anything suitable. If you want to try Timed, its source code is available in Appendix 2.

This behaviour may be what you want, but what if the console app freezes? Your app can’t do anything about it. Example 2 shows how to let your GUI application “breathe” while the console application executes.