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delphi - How can I return a PChar from a DLL function to a VB6 application without risking crashes or memory leaks?

I have to create a DLL which is used by a VB6 application. This DLL has to provide several functions, some of them must return strings.

This is the VB6 declaration:

Declare Function MyProc Lib "mylib.dll" (ByVal Param As String) As String

And this the Delphi implementation stub in mylib.dll:

function MyProc(AParam: PChar): PChar; stdcall;
var
  ReturnValue: string;
begin
  ReturnValue := GetReturnValue(AParam);
  Result := ???;
end;

What do I have to return here? Who will free the memory of the returnd PChar string?

EDIT: I'm asking about Delphi 2005 (PChar = PAnsiChar)

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If you don't want to risk crashes or memory leaks, then craft your API using the Windows API as a model. There, the API functions generally don't allocate their own memory. Instead, the caller passes a buffer and tells the API how big the buffer is. The API fills the buffer up to that limit. See the GetWindowText function, for example. Functions don't return pointers, unless they're pointers to things the caller already provided. Instead, the caller provides everything itself, and the function just uses whatever it's given. You almost never see an output buffer parameter that isn't accompanied by another parameter telling the buffer's size.

A further enhancement you can make to that technique is to allow the function to tell the caller how big the buffer needs to be. When the input pointer is a null pointer, then the function can return how many bytes the caller needs to provide. The caller will call the function twice.

You don't need to derive your API from scratch. Use already-working APIs as examples for how to expose your own.


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