How to do basic file I/O in Visual C++ or in Visual C++ .NET

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Article ID: 307398 - View products that this article applies to.
This article was previously published under Q307398
For a Microsoft Visual C++ .NET 2005/2008 ECMA C++/CLI version of this article, see 950617.
For a Microsoft Visual C# .NET version of this article, see 304430.
For a Microsoft Visual Basic .NET version of this article, see 304427.
This article refers to the following Microsoft .NET Framework Class Library namespaces:
  • System::ComponentModel
  • System::Windows::Forms
  • System::Drawing
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Summary

This step-by-step article describes how to do six basic file input/output (I/O) operations in Microsoft Visual C++ 2005 or in Microsoft Visual C++ .NET. If you are new to the .NET Framework, you will find that the object model for file operations in the .NET Framework is similar to the FileSystemObject (FSO) that is popular with many Microsoft Visual Studio 6.0 developers. To make the transition easier, the functionality that is demonstrated in this article is based on the following Microsoft Knowledge Base article:
186118 How To Use FileSystemObject with Visual Basic
You can still use the FileSystemObject in the .NET Framework. Because the FileSystemObject is a Component Object Model (COM) component, the .NET Framework requires that access to the object be through the Interop layer. The .NET Framework generates a wrapper for the component for you if you want to use it. However, the File class, the FileInfo class, the Directory, DirectoryInfo classes, and other related classes in the .NET Framework, offer functionality that is not available with the FSO, without the overhead of the Interop layer.

Requirements

The following list outlines the recommended hardware, software, network infrastructure, and service packs that are required:
  • Visual C++ 2005 or Visual C++ .NET

Demonstrated File I/O Operations

The examples in this article describe basic file I/O operations. The "Step-by-Step Example" section describes how to create a sample program that demonstrates the following six file I/O operations:
  • Read a Text File
  • Write a Text File
  • View File Information
  • List Disk Drives
  • List Folders
  • List Files

Read a Text File

The following sample code uses a StreamReader class to read a text file. The contents of the file are added to a ListBox control. The try...catch block is used to alert the program if the file is empty. There are many ways to determine when the end of the file is reached; this sample uses the Peek method to examine the next line before reading it.
  listBox1->Items->Clear();
   	try   
	{    
		String* textFile = String::Concat(windir,                                    (S"\\mytest.txt")); 
	        StreamReader *reader=new  StreamReader(textFile);
		do
		{
		    listBox1->Items->Add(reader->ReadLine());
		}   
		while(reader->Peek() != -1);
	}      
         
	catch (System::Exception *e)
	{ 
		listBox1->Items->Add(e);
	}

}
				
Note In Visual C++ 2005, you must add the common language runtime support compiler option (/clr:oldSyntax) to successfully compile the previous code sample as Managed C++. To add the common language runtime support compiler option, follow these steps:
  1. Click Project, and then click ProjectName Properties.

    Note ProjectName is a placeholder for the name of the project.
  2. Expand Configuration Properties, and then click General.
  3. In the right pane, click to select Common Language Runtime Support, Old Syntax (/clr:oldSyntax) in the Common Language Runtime support project settings.
  4. Click Apply, and then click OK.
For more information about common language runtime support compiler options, visit the following Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) Web site:
http://msdn2.microsoft.com/en-us/library/k8d11d4s.aspx

Write a Text File

This sample code uses a StreamWriter class to create and write to a file. If you have an existing file, you can open it in the same way.
StreamWriter* pwriter = new StreamWriter(S"c:\\KBTest.txt");
pwriter->WriteLine(S"File created using StreamWriter class.");
pwriter->Close();
listBox1->Items->Clear();
String *filew = new String(S"File Written to C:\\KBTest.txt");
listBox1->Items->Add(filew);
				

View File Information

This sample code uses a FileInfo class to access a file's properties. Notepad.exe is used in this sample. The properties appear in a ListBox control.
 listBox1->Items->Clear();
 String* testfile = String::Concat(windir, (S"\\notepad.exe")); 
 FileInfo *pFileProps  =new FileInfo(testfile);

 listBox1->Items->Add(String::Concat(S"File Name = ", (pFileProps->get_FullName() )) );
 listBox1->Items->Add(String::Concat(S"Creation Time = ", (pFileProps->get_CreationTime() ).ToString()) );
 listBox1->Items->Add(String::Concat(S"Last Access Time = "  ,(pFileProps->get_LastAccessTime() ).ToString()) );
 listBox1->Items->Add(String::Concat(S"Last Write Time = ", (pFileProps->get_LastWriteTime() ).ToString()) );
 listBox1->Items->Add(String::Concat(S"Size = ", (pFileProps->get_Length() ).ToString()) );
				

List Disk Drives

This sample code uses the Directory and Drive classes to list the logical drives on a system. For this sample, the results appear in a ListBox control.
  listBox1->Items->Clear();
  String* drives[] = Directory::GetLogicalDrives();
  int numDrives = drives->get_Length();
  for (int i=0; i<numDrives; i++)
  {
	listBox1->Items->Add(drives[i]);
  } 
				

List Subfolders

This sample code uses the GetDirectories method of the Directory class to obtain a list of folders.
listBox1->Items->Clear();
String* dirs[] = Directory::GetDirectories(windir);
int numDirs = dirs->get_Length();
for (int i=0; i<numDirs; i++)
{
listBox1->Items->Add(dirs[i]);
}
				

List Files

This sample code uses the GetFiles method of the Directory class to obtain a listing of files.
listBox1->Items->Clear();
String* files[]= Directory::GetFiles(this->windir);
int numFiles = files->get_Length();
for (int i=0; i<numFiles; i++)
{
  listBox1->Items->Add(files[i]);
}
				
Many things can go wrong when a user gains access to files. The files may not exist, the files may be in use, or users may not have rights on the files of folders that they are trying to access. Consider these possibilities when you write code to handle the exceptions that may be generated.

Step-by-Step Example

  1. Start Microsoft Visual Studio .NET, Microsoft Visual Studio 2005, or Microsoft Visual C++ 2005 Express Edition.
  2. On the File menu, point to New, and then click Project.
  3. Under Project Types, click Visual C++ Projects. Under Templates section, click Windows Forms Application (.NET).

    Note In Visual Studio 2005, click Visual C++ under Project Types. Under Templates, click Windows Forms Application.
  4. Type KB307398 in the Name box, type C:\ in the Location box, and then click OK.
  5. Open the Form1 form in the Design view, and then press F4 to open the Propertries window.
  6. In the Properties window, expand the Size folder. In the Width box, type 700. In the Height box, type 320.
  7. Add one ListBox control and six Button controls to Form1.

    Note To view the toolbox, click Toolbox on the View menu.
  8. In the Properties window, change the Location, the Name, the Size, the TabIndex, and the Text properties of these controls as follows:
    Collapse this tableExpand this table
    Control IDLocationNameSizeTabIndexText
    button1500, 32button1112, 231Read Text File
    button2500, 64button2112, 232Write Text File
    button3500, 96button3112, 233View File Information
    button4500, 128button4112, 234List Drives
    button5500, 160button5112, 235List Subfolders
    button6500, 192button6112, 236List Files
    listBox124, 24listBox1450, 2000listBox1
  9. Open the Form1.h file. In the Form1 class declaration, declare one private String variable with the following code:
    private:
    		String *windir;
  10. In the Form1 class constructor add the following code:
    windir = System::Environment::GetEnvironmentVariable("windir");
  11. To perform file Input output operations,add the System::IO namespace.
  12. Press SHIFT+F7 to open Form1 in Design view. Double-click the Read Text File button, and then paste the following code:

    Note In Visual C++ 2005, click Designer in the View menu.
    // How to read a text file:
    // Use try...catch to deal with a 0 byte file or a non-existant file.
    listBox1->Items->Clear();
    
    try   
    {    
    	String* textFile = String::Concat(windir, (S"\\mytest.txt")); 
    	StreamReader *reader=new  StreamReader(textFile);
    	do
    	{
    	listBox1->Items->Add(reader->ReadLine());
    	}   
    	while(reader->Peek() != -1);
    }    
    catch(FileNotFoundException *ex)
    {
    	listBox1->Items->Add(ex);
    }  
            
    catch (System::Exception *e)
    { 
    	listBox1->Items->Add(e);
    }
  13. In the Form1 Design view, double-click the Write Text File button, and then paste the following code:
    // This demonstrates how to create and to write to a text file.
    StreamWriter* pwriter = new StreamWriter(S"c:\\KBTest.txt");
    pwriter->WriteLine(S"The file was created by using the StreamWriter class.");
    pwriter->Close();
    listBox1->Items->Clear();
    String *filew = new String(S"File written to C:\\KBTest.txt");
    listBox1->Items->Add(filew);
  14. In the Form1 Design view, double-click the View File Information button, and then paste the following code in the method:
    // This code retrieves file properties. The example uses Notepad.exe.
    listBox1->Items->Clear();
    String* testfile = String::Concat(windir, (S"\\notepad.exe")); 
    FileInfo *pFileProps  =new FileInfo(testfile);
    
    listBox1->Items->Add(String::Concat(S"File Name = ", (pFileProps->get_FullName() )) );
    listBox1->Items->Add(String::Concat(S"Creation Time = ", (pFileProps->get_CreationTime() ).ToString()) );
    listBox1->Items->Add(String::Concat(S"Last Access Time = "  ,(pFileProps->get_LastAccessTime() ).ToString()) );
    listBox1->Items->Add(String::Concat(S"Last Write Time = ", (pFileProps->get_LastWriteTime() ).ToString()) );
    listBox1->Items->Add(String::Concat(S"Size = ", (pFileProps->get_Length() ).ToString()) );
  15. In the Form1 Design view, double-click the List Drives button, and then paste the following code:
    // This demonstrates how to obtain a list of disk drives.
    listBox1->Items->Clear();
    String* drives[] = Directory::GetLogicalDrives();
    int numDrives = drives->get_Length();
    for (int i=0; i<numDrives; i++)
    {
    	listBox1->Items->Add(drives[i]);
    }
  16. In the Form1 Design view, double-click the List Subfolders button, and then paste the following code:
    // This code obtains a list of folders. This example uses the Windows folder.
    listBox1->Items->Clear();
    String* dirs[] = Directory::GetDirectories(windir);
    int numDirs = dirs->get_Length();
    for (int i=0; i<numDirs; i++)
    {
    	listBox1->Items->Add(dirs[i]);                                                    
    }
  17. In the Form1 Design view, double-click the List Files button, and then paste the following code:
    // This code obtains a list of files. This example uses the Windows folder.
    listBox1->Items->Clear();
    String* files[]= Directory::GetFiles(this->windir);
    int numFiles = files->get_Length();
    for (int i=0; i<numFiles; i++)
    {
    	listBox1->Items->Add(files[i]);
    }
  18. To build and then run the program, press CTRL+F5.

Complete Code Sample

Note You must change the following code when running in Visual C++ 2005.
//Form1.h
#pragma once


namespace KB307398
{
	using namespace System;
	using namespace System::IO;
	using namespace System::ComponentModel;
	using namespace System::Collections;
	using namespace System::Windows::Forms;
	using namespace System::Data;
	using namespace System::Drawing;

	/// <summary> 
	/// Summary for Form1
	///
	/// WARNING: If you change the name of this class, you will need to change the 
	///          'Resource File Name' property for the managed resource compiler tool 
	///          associated with all .resx files this class depends on.  Otherwise,
	///          the designers will not be able to interact properly with localized
	///          resources associated with this form.
	/// </summary>
	public __gc class Form1 : public System::Windows::Forms::Form
	{
	private:
		String *windir;
	public:
		Form1(void)
		{
			windir = System::Environment::GetEnvironmentVariable("windir");
			InitializeComponent();
		}
  
	protected:
		void Dispose(Boolean disposing)
		{
			if (disposing && components)
			{
				components->Dispose();
			}
			__super::Dispose(disposing);
		}
	private: System::Windows::Forms::Button *  button1;
	private: System::Windows::Forms::Button *  button2;
	private: System::Windows::Forms::Button *  button3;
	private: System::Windows::Forms::Button *  button4;
	private: System::Windows::Forms::Button *  button5;
	private: System::Windows::Forms::Button *  button6;
	private: System::Windows::Forms::ListBox *  listBox1;

	private:
		/// <summary>
		/// Required designer variable.
		/// </summary>
		System::ComponentModel::Container * components;

		/// <summary>
		/// Required method for Designer support - do not modify
		/// the contents of this method with the code editor.
		/// </summary>
		void InitializeComponent(void)
		{
			this->button1 = new System::Windows::Forms::Button();
			this->button2 = new System::Windows::Forms::Button();
			this->button3 = new System::Windows::Forms::Button();
			this->button4 = new System::Windows::Forms::Button();
			this->button5 = new System::Windows::Forms::Button();
			this->button6 = new System::Windows::Forms::Button();
			this->listBox1 = new System::Windows::Forms::ListBox();
			this->SuspendLayout();
			// 
			// button1
			// 
			this->button1->Location = System::Drawing::Point(500, 32);
			this->button1->Name = S"button1";
			this->button1->Size = System::Drawing::Size(112, 23);
			this->button1->TabIndex = 1;
			this->button1->Text = S"Read Text File";
			this->button1->Click += new System::EventHandler(this, button1_Click);
			// 
			// button2
			// 
			this->button2->Location = System::Drawing::Point(500, 64);
			this->button2->Name = S"button2";
			this->button2->Size = System::Drawing::Size(112, 23);
			this->button2->TabIndex = 2;
			this->button2->Text = S"Write Text File";
			this->button2->Click += new System::EventHandler(this, button2_Click);
			// 
			// button3
			// 
			this->button3->Location = System::Drawing::Point(500, 96);
			this->button3->Name = S"button3";
			this->button3->Size = System::Drawing::Size(112, 23);
			this->button3->TabIndex = 3;
			this->button3->Text = S"View File Information";
			this->button3->Click += new System::EventHandler(this, button3_Click);
			// 
			// button4
			// 
			this->button4->Location = System::Drawing::Point(500, 128);
			this->button4->Name = S"button4";
			this->button4->Size = System::Drawing::Size(112, 23);
			this->button4->TabIndex = 4;
			this->button4->Text = S"List Drives";
			this->button4->Click += new System::EventHandler(this, button4_Click);
			// 
			// button5
			// 
			this->button5->Location = System::Drawing::Point(500, 160);
			this->button5->Name = S"button5";
			this->button5->Size = System::Drawing::Size(112, 23);
			this->button5->TabIndex = 5;
			this->button5->Text = S"List Subfolders";
			this->button5->Click += new System::EventHandler(this, button5_Click);
			// 
			// button6
			// 
			this->button6->Location = System::Drawing::Point(500, 188);
			this->button6->Name = S"button6";
			this->button6->Size = System::Drawing::Size(112, 23);
			this->button6->TabIndex = 6;
			this->button6->Text = S"List Files";
			this->button6->Click += new System::EventHandler(this, button6_Click);
			// 
			// listBox1
			// 
			this->listBox1->Location = System::Drawing::Point(24, 24);
			this->listBox1->Name = S"listBox1";
			this->listBox1->Size = System::Drawing::Size(450, 199);
			this->listBox1->TabIndex = 0;
			// 
			// Form1
			// 
			this->AutoScaleBaseSize = System::Drawing::Size(5, 13);
			this->ClientSize = System::Drawing::Size(692, 293);
			this->Controls->Add(this->listBox1);
			this->Controls->Add(this->button6);
			this->Controls->Add(this->button5);
			this->Controls->Add(this->button4);
			this->Controls->Add(this->button3);
			this->Controls->Add(this->button2);
			this->Controls->Add(this->button1);
			this->Name = S"Form1";
			this->Text = S"Form1";
			this->ResumeLayout(false);

		}	
	private: System::Void button1_Click(System::Object *  sender, System::EventArgs *  e)
			 {// This code shows how to read a text file.
// The try...catch code is to deal with a 0 byte file or a non-existant file.
listBox1->Items->Clear();

				try   
				{    
					String* textFile = String::Concat(windir, (S"\\mytest.txt")); 
					StreamReader *reader=new  StreamReader(textFile);
					do
					{
					listBox1->Items->Add(reader->ReadLine());
					}   
					while(reader->Peek() != -1);
				} 
				catch(FileNotFoundException *ex)
				{
					listBox1->Items->Add(ex);
				}	     
				        
				catch (System::Exception *e)
				{ 
					listBox1->Items->Add(e);
				}
			 }

private: System::Void button2_Click(System::Object *  sender, System::EventArgs *  e)
		 {// This code demonstrates how to create and to write to a text file.
StreamWriter* pwriter = new StreamWriter(S"c:\\KBTest.txt");
pwriter->WriteLine(S"The file was created by using the StreamWriter class.");
pwriter->Close();
listBox1->Items->Clear();
String *filew = new String(S"The file was written to C:\\KBTest.txt");
listBox1->Items->Add(filew);
		 }

private: System::Void button3_Click(System::Object *  sender, System::EventArgs *  e)
		 {// This code retrieves file properties. This example uses Notepad.exe.
listBox1->Items->Clear();
String* testfile = String::Concat(windir, (S"\\notepad.exe")); 
FileInfo *pFileProps  =new FileInfo(testfile);

listBox1->Items->Add(String::Concat(S"File Name = ", (pFileProps->get_FullName() )) );
listBox1->Items->Add(String::Concat(S"Creation Time = ", (pFileProps->get_CreationTime() ).ToString()) );
listBox1->Items->Add(String::Concat(S"Last Access Time = "  ,(pFileProps->get_LastAccessTime() ).ToString()) );
listBox1->Items->Add(String::Concat(S"Last Write Time = ", (pFileProps->get_LastWriteTime() ).ToString()) );
listBox1->Items->Add(String::Concat(S"Size = ", (pFileProps->get_Length() ).ToString()) );
		 }

private: System::Void button4_Click(System::Object *  sender, System::EventArgs *  e)
		 {// The code demonstrates how to obtain a list of disk drives.
listBox1->Items->Clear();
String* drives[] = Directory::GetLogicalDrives();
int numDrives = drives->get_Length();
for (int i=0; i<numDrives; i++)
{
	listBox1->Items->Add(drives[i]);
}
		 }

private: System::Void button5_Click(System::Object *  sender, System::EventArgs *  e)
		 {// This code obtains a list of folders. This example uses the Windows folder.
listBox1->Items->Clear();
String* dirs[] = Directory::GetDirectories(windir);
int numDirs = dirs->get_Length();
for (int i=0; i<numDirs; i++)
{
	listBox1->Items->Add(dirs[i]);                                                    
}
		 }

private: System::Void button6_Click(System::Object *  sender, System::EventArgs *  e)
		 {// This code obtains a list of files. This example uses the Windows folder.
listBox1->Items->Clear();
String* files[]= Directory::GetFiles(this->windir);
int numFiles = files->get_Length();
for (int i=0; i<numFiles; i++)
{
	listBox1->Items->Add(files[i]);
}
		 }

};
}

//Form1.cpp
#include "stdafx.h"
#include "Form1.h"
#include <windows.h>

using namespace KB307398;

int APIENTRY _tWinMain(HINSTANCE hInstance,
                     HINSTANCE hPrevInstance,
                     LPTSTR    lpCmdLine,
                     int       nCmdShow)
{
	System::Threading::Thread::CurrentThread->ApartmentState = System::Threading::ApartmentState::STA;
	Application::Run(new Form1());
	return 0;
}

References

For more information, visit the following Microsoft Web site:
http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?xmlid=fh;EN-US;vcnet
For more information about how to create Windows forms in Managed Extensions for C++, see the "ManagedCWinFormWiz" sample in Visual Studio .NET Help.

Properties

Article ID: 307398 - Last Review: October 16, 2012 - Revision: 5.0
Applies to
  • Microsoft Visual C++ 2008 Express Edition
  • Microsoft Visual C++ 2005 Express Edition
  • Microsoft Visual C++ .NET 2003 Standard Edition
Keywords: 
kbwindowsforms kbforms kbio kbfileio kbhowtomaster kbnewsgrouplink KB307398

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