Although Visual Basic includes the SaveSetting and GetSetting functionsto save and retrieve information from the registry, these functions onlyoperate on a specific section of the registry, the Visual Basic and VBAProgram Settings of the HKEY_CURRENT_USER root key.
This article outlines the use of 32-bit Windows API functions, which can beused to set and retrieve values from anywhere in the registry. The topicsand function references in this article can be generalized to program the16-bit registry.
The 32-bit API functions also include support for security, although anoverview of security is outside the scope of this article.
NOTE: The SaveSetting and GetSetting functions are not part of the VBAfunction library. However, the sample code below still applies to 32-bitapplications that implement VBA.
General Registry Information
The registry is used by applications and Windows to store configurationdata. It is a replacement for the large numbers of INI files thatproliferated on Windows 3.x machines and is also used heavily by OLE.
The registry is organized using a hierarchical series of keys and valuesresembling a tree. Each key, beginning with one of the six predefined rootkeys, can have sub-keys and values associated with it. The keys areorganizational and naming units and appear in the Windows Registry Editorsas file folders. Values are data entries and appear as text entries in theright pane of the Registry Editor window. Keys need not have any associatedvalues, but may have many. Each value has an associated data type. The twomost commonly used registry data types are REG_SZ, a null-terminatedstring; and REG_DWORD, a 32-bit number.
The basic process used to write or read from a location in the registry isthe same. To reference any given key or value, you must have a handle tothe key. Once this handle is obtained, values and sub-keys of the key thatthis handle refers to can be read, set, or listed (enumerated).
Given a location in the registry, to obtain a handle to that key, you mustbegin with one of the six predefined keys (HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT,HKEY_CURRENT_USER, HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE, HKEY_USERS, HKEY_CURRENT_CONFIG, andHKEY_DYN_DATA) and traverse the registry tree until the desired key isreached. User programs most often read and write from HKEY_CURRENT_USER andHKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE. If the keys being traversed exist already, you can usea series of calls to the RegOpenKey or RegOpenKeyEx functions. If the keysneed to be created, the RegCreateKey and RegCreateKeyEx functions do the job.
With the handle to the desired key, the functions used to list, set, andretrieve information can be called. In all cases, the functions with the Exsuffix will work only on 32-bit platforms. Functions without the suffix maywork on both 16-bit and 32-bit versions of Windows. Keep in mind that notall registry functions lacking the 'Ex' suffix are functions provided for16-bit compatibility. The Ex suffix was only added when the capabilities of16-bit functions were expanded. Functions that are totally new and specificto 32-bit platforms do not possess an Ex extension.
The RegSetValue and RegSetValueEx functions allow the settings of a valueto be modified, while RegQueryValue and RegQueryValueEx retrieve thecurrent setting of a value. The limitations of the non-Ex, 16-bit versionsof these APIs are very evident here. When using the 16-bit RegSetValuefunction there is no way to name a value, and because of this, RegSetValuecan't be used to associate more than one value with each key. In addition,all values written with RegSetValue have a data type of REG_SZ. Theselimitations are inherent with the 16-bit Registry. RegSetValueEx allows thecreation of a multiple number of values with any available data type.
How to Write to a Specific Registry Location
After determining what functions you will need to use for your project,copy the relevant declares from the code at the end of this article to abasic module. The two Visual Basic procedures included (SetValueEx andQueryValueEx) are wrappers for the RegSetValueEx and RegQueryValueEx APIfunctions and greatly simplify their use. The notes below make use of theseVisual Basic functions; however, you are free to make calls directly to theAPI if you wish.
Creating/Modifying Keys and Values:
With the declarations and procedures available, you can create and openkeys, and add, modify, and read values. The three following sectionsexplain how to create a key, set or modify a value, and query a value.
Creating a New Key:
Creating a new key is as simple as using the following procedure.CreateNewKey takes the name of the key to create, and the constantrepresenting the predefined key to create the key under. The call toRegCreateKeyEx doesn't take advantage of the security mechanisms allowed,but could be modified to do so. A discussion of Registry security isoutside the scope of this article.
Private Sub CreateNewKey (sNewKeyName As String, lPredefinedKey As Long) Dim hNewKey As Long 'handle to the new key Dim lRetVal As Long 'result of the RegCreateKeyEx function lRetVal = RegCreateKeyEx(lPredefinedKey, sNewKeyName, 0&, _ vbNullString, REG_OPTION_NON_VOLATILE, KEY_ALL_ACCESS, _ 0&, hNewKey, lRetVal) RegCloseKey (hNewKey) End Sub
With this procedure a call of:
CreateNewKey "TestKey", HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE
will create a key called TestKey immediately under HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE.
Calling CreateNewKey like this:
CreateNewKey "TestKey\SubKey1\SubKey2", HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE
will create three-nested keys beginning with TestKey immediately underHKEY_CURRENT_USER, SubKey1 subordinate to TestKey, and SubKey3 underSubKey2.
Setting/Modifying a Value:
Creating and setting a value of a specified key can be accomplished withthe following short procedure. SetKeyValue takes the key that the valuewill be associated with, the name of the value, the setting of the value,and the type of the value (the SetValueEx function only supports REG_SZ andREG_DWORD, but this can be modified if necessary). Specifying a new valuefor an existing sValueName will modify the current setting of that value.
Private Sub SetKeyValue (sKeyName As String, sValueName As String, _ vValueSetting As Variant, lValueType As Long) Dim lRetVal As Long 'result of the SetValueEx function Dim hKey As Long 'handle of open key 'open the specified key lRetVal = RegOpenKeyEx(HKEY_CURRENT_USER, sKeyName, 0, _ KEY_SET_VALUE, hKey) lRetVal = SetValueEx(hKey, sValueName, lValueType, vValueSetting) RegCloseKey (hKey) End Sub
A call of:
SetKeyValue "TestKey\SubKey1", "StringValue", "Hello", REG_SZ
will create a value of type REG_SZ called "StringValue" with the setting of"Hello." This value will be associated with the key SubKey1 of "TestKey."
In this case, "TestKey" is a subkey of HKEY_CURRENT_USER, but this can bemodified by changing the call to RegOpenKeyEx. This call will fail if"TestKey\SubKey1" does not exist. To avoid this problem, use a call toRegCreateKeyEx instead of a call to RegOpenKeyEx. RegCreateKeyEx will opena specified key if it already exists.
Querying a Value:
The next procedure can be used to ascertain the setting of an existingvalue. QueryValue takes the name of the key and the name of a valueassociated with that key and displays a message box with the correspondingvalue. It uses a call to the QueryValueEx wrapper function defined below,that only supports REG_SZ and REG_DWORD types.
Private Sub QueryValue (sKeyName As String, sValueName As String) Dim lRetVal As Long 'result of the API functions Dim hKey As Long 'handle of opened key Dim vValue As Variant 'setting of queried value lRetVal = RegOpenKeyEx(HKEY_CURRENT_USER, sKeyName, 0, _ KEY_QUERY_VALUE, hKey) lRetVal = QueryValueEx(hKey, sValueName, vValue) MsgBox vValue RegCloseKey (hKey) End Sub
With this procedure, a call of:
QueryValue "TestKey\SubKey1", "StringValue"
will display a message box with the current setting of the "StringValue"value, and assumes that "StringValue" exists in the "TestKey\SubKey1" key.
If the Value that you query does not exist then QueryValue will return anerror code of 2 - 'ERROR_BADKEY'.
The above examples use the extended 32-bit versions of the registryfunctions exclusively. These functions allow more than one value to beassociated with each key. As discussed above, the 16-bit RegSetValue andRegQueryValue act on a single value associated with the current key (whichis always of the type REG_SZ). These functions appear in the 32-bitRegistry Editor with a name of <NO NAME>. To set, modify, or query thisspecial associated value, one must use the 16-bit registry functions.Reading and writing from the registry in a 16-bit environment is muchsimpler than in a 32-bit environment. The same basic procedure is followed:open a key and get a handle and then call your modification function withthat handle, but no consideration needs to be made for multiple associatedvalues or for different value data types. A 16-bit application can createand modify keys and values with the declarations of the RegCreateKey,RegOpenKey, RegQueryValue, RegSetValue, and RegCloseKey functions.
In some cases, there is no need for any values to be associated with a key.An application may only need to know if a certain key or value exists, andnot care about the nature of the key's values. In a situation like this,the RegEnumKey, RegEnumKeyEx, and RegEnumValue functions can be used todetermine whether a certain key or value exists. For more information onthese functions refer to the API Text Viewer and/or Windows API reference.
API Function and Constant Declarations
Option Explicit Public Const REG_SZ As Long = 1 Public Const REG_DWORD As Long = 4 Public Const HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT = &H80000000 Public Const HKEY_CURRENT_USER = &H80000001 Public Const HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE = &H80000002 Public Const HKEY_USERS = &H80000003 Public Const ERROR_NONE = 0 Public Const ERROR_BADDB = 1 Public Const ERROR_BADKEY = 2 Public Const ERROR_CANTOPEN = 3 Public Const ERROR_CANTREAD = 4 Public Const ERROR_CANTWRITE = 5 Public Const ERROR_OUTOFMEMORY = 6 Public Const ERROR_ARENA_TRASHED = 7 Public Const ERROR_ACCESS_DENIED = 8 Public Const ERROR_INVALID_PARAMETERS = 87 Public Const ERROR_NO_MORE_ITEMS = 259 Public Const KEY_QUERY_VALUE = &H1 Public Const KEY_SET_VALUE = &H2 Public Const KEY_ALL_ACCESS = &H3F Public Const REG_OPTION_NON_VOLATILE = 0 Declare Function RegCloseKey Lib "advapi32.dll" _ (ByVal hKey As Long) As Long Declare Function RegCreateKeyEx Lib "advapi32.dll" Alias _ "RegCreateKeyExA" (ByVal hKey As Long, ByVal lpSubKey As String, _ ByVal Reserved As Long, ByVal lpClass As String, ByVal dwOptions _ As Long, ByVal samDesired As Long, ByVal lpSecurityAttributes _ As Long, phkResult As Long, lpdwDisposition As Long) As Long Declare Function RegOpenKeyEx Lib "advapi32.dll" Alias _ "RegOpenKeyExA" (ByVal hKey As Long, ByVal lpSubKey As String, _ ByVal ulOptions As Long, ByVal samDesired As Long, phkResult As _ Long) As Long Declare Function RegQueryValueExString Lib "advapi32.dll" Alias _ "RegQueryValueExA" (ByVal hKey As Long, ByVal lpValueName As _ String, ByVal lpReserved As Long, lpType As Long, ByVal lpData _ As String, lpcbData As Long) As Long Declare Function RegQueryValueExLong Lib "advapi32.dll" Alias _ "RegQueryValueExA" (ByVal hKey As Long, ByVal lpValueName As _ String, ByVal lpReserved As Long, lpType As Long, lpData As _ Long, lpcbData As Long) As Long Declare Function RegQueryValueExNULL Lib "advapi32.dll" Alias _ "RegQueryValueExA" (ByVal hKey As Long, ByVal lpValueName As _ String, ByVal lpReserved As Long, lpType As Long, ByVal lpData _ As Long, lpcbData As Long) As Long Declare Function RegSetValueExString Lib "advapi32.dll" Alias _ "RegSetValueExA" (ByVal hKey As Long, ByVal lpValueName As String, _ ByVal Reserved As Long, ByVal dwType As Long, ByVal lpValue As _ String, ByVal cbData As Long) As Long Declare Function RegSetValueExLong Lib "advapi32.dll" Alias _ "RegSetValueExA" (ByVal hKey As Long, ByVal lpValueName As String, _ ByVal Reserved As Long, ByVal dwType As Long, lpValue As Long, _ ByVal cbData As Long) As Long
SetValueEx and QueryValueEx Wrapper Functions:
Public Function SetValueEx(ByVal hKey As Long, sValueName As String, _ lType As Long, vValue As Variant) As Long Dim lValue As Long Dim sValue As String Select Case lType Case REG_SZ sValue = vValue & Chr$(0) SetValueEx = RegSetValueExString(hKey, sValueName, 0&, _ lType, sValue, Len(sValue)) Case REG_DWORD lValue = vValue SetValueEx = RegSetValueExLong(hKey, sValueName, 0&, _ lType, lValue, 4) End Select End Function Function QueryValueEx(ByVal lhKey As Long, ByVal szValueName As _ String, vValue As Variant) As Long Dim cch As Long Dim lrc As Long Dim lType As Long Dim lValue As Long Dim sValue As String On Error GoTo QueryValueExError ' Determine the size and type of data to be read lrc = RegQueryValueExNULL(lhKey, szValueName, 0&, lType, 0&, cch) If lrc <> ERROR_NONE Then Error 5 Select Case lType ' For strings Case REG_SZ: sValue = String(cch, 0) lrc = RegQueryValueExString(lhKey, szValueName, 0&, lType, _ sValue, cch) If lrc = ERROR_NONE Then vValue = Left$(sValue, cch-1) Else vValue = Empty End If ' For DWORDS Case REG_DWORD: lrc = RegQueryValueExLong(lhKey, szValueName, 0&, lType, _ lValue, cch) If lrc = ERROR_NONE Then vValue = lValue Case Else 'all other data types not supported lrc = -1 End Select QueryValueExExit: QueryValueEx = lrc Exit Function QueryValueExError: Resume QueryValueExExit End Function