VCOM:VCOM (Vectorworks Component Object Model)

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.SDK|SDK ..SDK:Types|SDK Types ..VCOM:VCOM (Vectorworks Component Object Model)|VCOM Basics ..VCOM:Class Reference|VCOM Class Reference

What is this?

VCOM (Vectorworks Component Object Model) is a API to deliver component services in the Vectorworks runtime.

Component services are provided by Vectorworks or any installed module. Providers register services with the VCOM manager using universal unique identifiers. Clients then obtain access to the registered services in the form of a pointer to a class of virtual functions.

One that uses VCOM is called 'Client' and the one that provides interfaces to VCOM is called 'Provider'.

How do I use it?

VCOM is part of the SDK. This means that each plug-in can use VCOM. Anyone who uses VCOM is called 'Client of VCOM'.

When a client needs to use specific interface, first, it has to know its VCOM:VWIID, to recognize the interface, and then call SDK:GS_VWQueryInterface to obtain a pointer to that interface.

VCOM:VWIID is a UUID (Universal Unique Identifier) structure that uniquely identifies one interface and no other. All VWIID constant variables for interfaces always start with 'IID_' and then the name of the interface.

Sample of a client queried VCOM interface instance. Then this instance is used to make a call to function, and the instance is released. Releasing instance denotes that this interface instance is no longer in use by this code.

IVCOMSample*	pSampleInst	= NULL;
if ( VCOM_SUCCEEDED( ::GS_VWQueryInterface( IID_VCOMSample, (IVWUnknown**) & pSampleInst ) ) )  {
    VCOMError   vcomErr    = pSampleInst->Function();

In this example 'IID_VCOMSample' is the UUID constant identifying the 'IVCOMSample' interface.

Note! You must always release queried interfaces. Failing to do so will cause memory leaks in Vectorworks process.

For easier use there is VCOM:VCOMPtr template class that allows you to query and automatically release interfaces:

And here is example of using it:

VCOMPtr<IVCOMSample>    pSampleInit( IID_VCOMSample ); // This queries the interface,
                                                       // The interface instance
                                                       // will be automatically released
                                                       // by the destructor

if ( pSampleInit)  {                                   // Determine if it contains
                                                       // valid interface pointer
    VCOMError   vcomErr    = pSampleInit->Function();

By definition (not always) each function for an interface returns VCOM:VCOMError error result. This result denotes if the function succeeded. To determine that there are macros VCOM_SUCCEEDED to determine success and VCOM_FAILED to determine failure.

The common predefined VCOM errors are:

  • kVCOMError_NoError - There was no error.
  • kVCOMError_Failed - The operation failed due to problem within the called funtion.
  • kVCOMError_OutOfMemory - Out of memory.
  • kVCOMError_NotInitialized - Either VCOM or the object are not initialized properly.
  • kVCOMError_NoInterface - There is no interface with desired VWIID.
  • kVCOMError_NotImplemented - The function called is not implemented.
  • kVCOMError_DuplicateIID - Duplicate VWIID when registering interface.
  • kVCOMError_NoModule - No module containing the interface.
  • kVCOMError_NoInstance - No instance for the VWIID.
  • kVCOMError_Unexpected - Unexpected error.
  • kVCOMError_InvalidArg - Some of the parameters for the call are not valid (NULLs or bad values)

How do I make interface provider?

Provider of interfaces can be only Vectorworks module plug-ins. A module plug-in defines interface implementation using the template function REGISTER_Interface:

extern "C" long GS_EXTERNAL_ENTRY plugin_main(long action, void* pInfo, long& ioData, CallBackPtr cbp)
    // initialize VCOM mechanizm
    ::GS_InitializeVCOM( cbp );

    // init legacy Global Callback Pointer
    // for support of legacy GS_ functions
    gCBP	= cbp;

    { // Init gSDK
        VCOMPtr<ISDK>  localSDK( IID_SDK );
        gSDK	= localSDK;

    long  reply = 0L;

    // Register interface implementations provided by this module
    REGISTER_Interface<CVCOMSample>( IID_VCOMSample, action, pInfo, ioData, cbp, reply );

    return reply;
  • CVCOMSample -- this is the class that implements the interface;
  • IID_VCOMSample -- this is the VWIID identifier that identifies the interface uniquely.

And the interface that this plug-in defines is defined like this:

// --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
// {B5706042-BF87-4cff-9BD9-3A08B01C183C}
static const VWIID IID_VCOMSample = { 0xb5706042, 0xbf87, 0x4cff, { 0x9b, 0xd9, 0x3a, 0x8, 0xb0, 0x1c, 0x18, 0x3c } };
class IVCOMSample : public IVWUnknown
    virtual VCOMError VCOM_CALLTYPE Function() = 0;

And the implementation should provide implementation for the two functions from VCOM:IVWUnknown.

Note the use of 'CallbackPtr'. So the interface implementation have internal reference to that callback which is guaranteed to be valid when the implementation is created:

class CVCOMSample : public IVCOMSample
            CVCOMSample(CallBackPtr pCBP)
    fRefCnt = 0;
    fCBP = pCBP;

  virtual  ~CVCOMSample()

  virtual long VCOM_CALLTYPE AddRef()
    fRefCnt ++;
    return fRefCnt;

  virtual long VCOM_CALLTYPE Release()
    if ( fRefCnt > 0 ) {
      fRefCnt --;
    return fRefCnt;

  virtual VCOMError VCOM_CALLTYPE Function()
    // use 'fCBP' for 'GS_' calls
    return kVCOMError_NoError;

  long           fRefCnt;
  CallBackPtr    fCBP;

Where do I get the interface definitions?

The idea is Vectorworks to provide certain set of standard interfaces, allowing the plug-ins to be more flexible. Also each plug-in can provide separate set of interfaces, that other plug-in may use. This means of course that the client plug-in is dependent on the presence of the provider plug-in.

The standard interfaces that Vectorworks provides can be found inside SDKLib\Include\Interfaces.

Including SDKLib\Include\Interfaces'\VWInterfaces.h will provide you VCOM interface definition that Vectorworks provides.

The interfaces are put in strict hierarchy of namespaces, dividing the interfaces according to their purpose.

See VCOM:Class Reference for more information.

Things that I should know

  • What is VCOM:IVWUnknown? - This is the base interface of all VCOM interfaces. One set of virtual functions is called VCOM interface when inherits 'IVWUnknown'.
class IVWUnknown
   virtual long VCOM_CALLTYPE    AddRef() = 0;
   virtual long VCOM_CALLTYPE    Release() = 0;
  • Never forget to 'Release' queried interfaces. When an interface is queries, the plug-in library provider is loaded into the memory, and doesn't get unloaded until all interface implementation that it provided has been released.
  • Use reference counting when passing interface pointers through classes and functions.
void MyClass::MyFunction(IMyInterface* pInterface)
    pInterface->AddRef();         // Increases the reference count of this interface
                                  // so it will not be deleted before this funtion releases it
                                  // This is very usefull thread safety

    // ... now work with pInterface

    pInterface->Release();       // releases the use of this interface for this funtion

Standard Vectorworks interfaces

Vectorworks provides a set of interfaces allowing plug-ins to communicate with Vectorworks.

You can see the interfaces that are currently supported in SDKLib\Include\Interfaces

The standard interfaces are grouped within 'VectorWorks' namespace. Including SDKLib\Include\Interfaces\VWInterfaces.h will include all the interfaces supported.

Here is an example of using the interfaces for choosing a dialog and working with a file:

IFileChooserDialogPtr	pFileChoose( IID_FileChooserDialog );
pFileChoose->SetTitle( TXString( kStr_ExportVectorScript ) );
TXStringArray	arrExts;
arrExts.Append( "vs" );
arrExts.Append( "px" );
pFileChoose->AddFilter( arrExts, "VectorScript Files" );
pFileChoose->SetDefaultFileName( fOptions.fLayoutData.fName );
pFileChoose->SetDefaultExtension( "vs" );

if ( VCOM_SUCCEEDED( pFileChoose->RunSaveDialog() ) ) {
	IFileIdentifierPtr	pVSFileID;

	if ( VCOM_SUCCEEDED( pFileChoose->GetSelectedFileName( 0, & pVSFileID ) ) ) {	
		IStdFilePtr	pFile( IID_StdFile );

		pFile->SetDefaultNewLine( kLineEndType_Win );
 		if ( pFile->OpenNewWrite( pVSFileID ) ) {
 			pFile->WriteStringLine( "HELLO" );

See Also

VCOM:Class Reference

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