Implementing QueryInterface

This document describes the right way to write QueryInterface().

 

A reference implementation of QueryInterface

NS_IMETHODIMP
nsMyImplementation::QueryInterface( REFNSIID aIID, void** aInstancePtr )
  {
    NS_ASSERTION(aInstancePtr, "QueryInterface requires a non-NULL destination!");
      // It's a logic error, not a runtime error, to call me without any place to put my answer!

      // ...but that won't matter when someone calls me wrongly in a non-debug build.
    if ( !aInstancePtr )
      return NS_ERROR_NULL_POINTER;

    nsISupports* foundInterface;

    if ( aIID.Equals(nsCOMTypeInfo<nsIX>::GetIID()) )
      foundInterface = NS_STATIC_CAST(nsIX*, this);
    else if ( aIID.Equals(nsCOMTypeInfo<nsIY>::GetIID()) )
      foundInterface = NS_STATIC_CAST(nsIY*, this);

    // ...as many cases as needed...

    else if ( aIID.Equals(nsCOMTypeInfo<nsISupports>::GetIID()) )
      foundInterface = NS_STATIC_CAST(nsISupports*, NS_STATIC_CAST(nsIX*, this));
        // I (may) have multiple |nsISupports| in me,
        //  so first I cast to a specific base to avoid ambiguity
    else
      foundInterface = 0;


    nsresult status;
    if ( !foundInterface )
      status = NS_NOINTERFACE;
    else
      {
        NS_ADDREF(foundInterface);
        status = NS_OK;
      }

    *aInstancePtr = foundInterface;
    return status;
  }

What's So Good About It?

  • It's clear and simple.
  • OK. It has more than one return, but the primary return is at the end of the function as expected; and the additional return is clear and alone at the top of the function.
  • It only has one AddRef.
  • It AddRefs the resulting interface, not this, thus following the COM-correct way (particularly important in aggregation)
  • It uses nsCOMTypeInfo<T>::GetIID() instead of kTIID thus saving a global declaration and global space
  • It uses C 's static_cast, via NS_STATIC_CAST, which detects errors when you can't really get to the desired interface.
  • It avoids repeated uses of and assignments to *aInstancePtr, which compilers have trouble optimizing.
  • It clears the result, *aInstancePtr, when returning an error.
  • It generates less code than the typical implementation of QueryInterface.
  • It tests for bad input with an NS_ASSERTION, to find logic errors immediately in debug builds.

Some Alternatives

The NS_IMPL_QUERY_INTERFACE[012] macros

The sample above implements two XPCOM interfaces in addition to nsISupports. The NS_IMPL_QUERY_INTERFACE2 macro can write this function for you (though it pains me to recommend macros), e.g.,

 

NS_IMPL_QUERY_INTERFACE2(nsMyImplementation, nsIX, nsIY)
                                          // implements |nsMyImplementation::QueryInterface| as above

NS_IMPL_QUERY_INTERFACE1(nsFoo, nsIFoo)   // |nsFoo::QueryInterface| provides |nsIFoo| and |nsISupports|
NS_IMPL_QUERY_INTERFACE0(nsBar)           // |nsBar::QueryInterface| can only provide an |nsISupports|

Similarly, you can use the macro NS_IMPL_QUERY_INTERFACE1 when you implement only one additional interface; and NS_IMPL_QUERY_INTERFACE0 when you only implement nsISupports. These macros will be invoked for you if you use the NS_IMPL_ISUPPORTS* macros, which give the corresponding QueryInterface implementation, plus an AddRef and a Release.

Calling an inherited QueryInterface

Sometimes you are just adding one or two new interfaces to an implementation that already supports many other interfaces. In such cases, you'll probably want to call through to the underlying implementation, after you've tested for the particular IIDs that you care about. This saves code-space and reduces complexity. The differences are highlighted in the following code.

 

class nsMyImplmentation : public nsBaseImplementation, public nsIX, public nsIY { ... };

NS_IMETHODIMP
nsMyImplementation::QueryInterface( REFNSIID aIID, void** aInstancePtr )
    /*
      I just add the interfaces |nsIX| and |nsIY|.
      My base class |nsBaseImplementation| provides all the rest.
    */
  {
    NS_ASSERTION(aInstancePtr, "QueryInterface requires a non-NULL destination!");

    if ( !aInstancePtr )
      return NS_ERROR_NULL_POINTER;

    nsISupports* foundInterface;

    if ( aIID.Equals(nsCOMTypeInfo<nsIX>::GetIID()) )
      foundInterface = NS_STATIC_CAST(nsIX*, this);
    else if ( aIID.Equals(nsCOMTypeInfo<nsIY>::GetIID()) )
      foundInterface = NS_STATIC_CAST(nsIY*, this);
    // Note: Don't check for |nsISupports|; |nsBaseImplementation| will do that for me.
    else
      foundInterface = 0;


    nsresult status;
    if ( !foundInterface )
        // OK, _I_ didn't find an interface.  Maybe my base class can.
      status = nsBaseImplementation::QueryInterface(aIID, &foundInterface);
    else
      {
        NS_ADDREF(foundInterface);
        status = NS_OK;
      }

    *aInstancePtr = foundInterface;
    return status;
  }

Note that if the base implementation's QueryInterface finds an appropriate interface, your QueryInterface must not AddRef it. This is reflected in the code above.

This technique works because nsBaseImplementation is already a complete class that could have been used on its own. This technique is less appropriate when you derive from several complete classes; but it can still be used if you are sensitive to the order, e.g.,

 

    // ...
    nsresult status;
    if ( !foundInterface )
      {
        // OK, ask |nsBase1Imp| first, because I want _it_ to be the one true |nsISupports|.
        status = nsBase1Imp::QueryInterface(aIID, &foundInterface);

        if ( !foundInterface )
          status = nsBase2Imp::QueryInterface(aIID, &foundInterface);

        if ( !foundInterface )
          status = nsBase3Imp::QueryInterface(aIID, &foundInterface);
      }
    else
      {
        NS_ADDREF(foundInterface);
        status = NS_OK;
      }
    // ...

It will be difficult, if not impossible, to get the right thing to happen if any of your base classes participate in true aggregation. You won't be able to catch calls to QueryInterface on the aggregated objects, which may then return wrong interfaces. One more reason to avoid aggregation specifically, and complicated hierarchies in general.

The NS_GET_IID macro

You can use the NS_GET_IID macro instead of typing out the full GetIID expression. In general, I disapprove of macros except in cases where the macro must expand to different text in different situations, e.g., different platforms, debugging vs. non-debugging, et al. In such cases macros are indispensible. In other cases macros may help some people but often cloud the issues for others. They always make the program source more fragile. In this case the macro is for convenience only, so I don't recommend it, but I do offer it up as an alternative.

 

    // ...
    if ( aIID.Equals(NS_GET_IID(nsIX)) )
      foundInterface = NS_STATIC_CAST(nsIX*, this);
    else if ( aIID.Equals(NS_GET_IID(nsIY)) )
      foundInterface = NS_STATIC_CAST(nsIY*, this);

    // ...as many cases as needed...

    else if ( aIID.Equals(NS_GET_IID(nsISupports)) )
    // ...

Thanks

Special thanks to Heikki Toivonen, Chris Waterson, and John Bandhauer for valuable feedback that significantly improved the implementations presented here.

 

Original Document Information

  • Author(s): Scott Collins
  • Last Updated Date: May 8, 2003
  • Copyright Information: Portions of this content are © 1998–2007 by individual mozilla.org contributors; content available under a Creative Commons license | Details.
 

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