How to: Identify Symbols in a Library


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Symbol-browsing tools display hierarchical views of symbols. The symbols represent namespaces, objects, classes, class members, and other language elements.

Each symbol in the hierarchy can be identified by the navigation information passed by the symbol library to the Visual Studio object manager through the following interfaces:




The location of the symbol in the hierarchy distinguishes a symbol. It allows symbol-browsing tools to navigate to a specific symbol. The unique, fully qualified path to the symbol determines the location. Each element in the path is a node. The path starts with the top-level node and ends with the specific symbol. For example, if the M1 method is a member of the C1 class and C1 is in N1 namespace, the full path of the M1 method is N1.C1.M1. This path contains three nodes: N1, C1, and M1.

The navigation information allows the Visual Studio object manager to locate, select and keep selected the symbols in the hierarchy. It allows navigating from one browsing tool to another. While using Object Browser to browse symbols in a Visual C++ project, you can right click a method and start the Call Browser tool to display the method in a call graph.

Two forms describe the symbol location. The canonical form is based on the fully qualified path of the symbol. It represents a unique position of the symbol in the hierarchy. It is independent of the symbol-browsing tool. To obtain the canonical form information, the Visual Studio object manager calls EnumCanonicalNodes method. The presentation form describes the location of the symbol within a specific symbol-browsing tool. The position of the symbol is relative to the position of other symbols in the hierarchicy. A given symbol may have several presentation paths, but only one canonical path. For example, if C1 class is inherited from C2 class and both classes are in N1 namespace, the Object Browser displays the following hierarchical tree:

        Bases and Interfaces  
        Bases and Interfaces  
. . . . . . . . . . .  

The canonical path of C2 class, in this example, is N1 + C2. The presentation path of C2 includes C1 and "Bases and Interfaces" nodes: N1 + C1 + "Bases and Interfaces" + C2.

To obtain the presentation form information, the object manager calls EnumPresentationNodes method.

Identifying a Symbol in the Hierarchy

To obtain canonical and presentation forms information

  1. Implement the EnumCanonicalNodes method.

    The object manager calls this method to obtain the list of nodes contained in the canonical path of the symbol.

    Public Function EnumCanonicalNodes(ByRef ppEnum As Microsoft.VisualStudio.Shell.Interop.IVsEnumNavInfoNodes) As Integer  
        Dim EnumNavInfoNodes As CallBrowserEnumNavInfoNodes = _New CallBrowserEnumNavInfoNodes(m_strMethod)  
        ppEnum = CType(EnumNavInfoNodes, IVsEnumNavInfoNodes)  
        Return 0  
    End Function  
    public int EnumCanonicalNodes(out Microsoft.VisualStudio.Shell.Interop.IVsEnumNavInfoNodes ppEnum)  
        CallBrowserEnumNavInfoNodes EnumNavInfoNodes =  
            new CallBrowserEnumNavInfoNodes(m_strMethod);  
        ppEnum = (IVsEnumNavInfoNodes)(EnumNavInfoNodes);  
        return 0;  
  2. Implement the EnumPresentationNodes method.

    The object manager calls this method to obtain the list of nodes contained in the presentation path of the symbol.

See Also

Supporting Symbol-Browsing Tools
How to: Register a Library with the Object Manager
How to: Expose Lists of Symbols Provided by the Library to the Object Manager