Registered Messages vs. WM_USER

When sending messages and notification from
user-created controls, one has two options to define custom messages. The
first is to send a WM_USER message.
That is, take the WM_USER constant and add to it a number. For example:


This allows any window to capture the message or notification using
normal ON_COMMAND/ON_NOTIFY macros. However, using WM_USER for normal
messages is a mistake. Suppose I created a component called “Special”
and another programmer from another side of the galaxy creates a component
“VerySpecial”. Both of us could have several messages sent and both
would use WM_USER messages. If by any chance both controls will use the
same message, a
windows program might behave in an unexpected way, since both use the
exact same message. This problem exists only when using the ON_COMMAND
and not ON_NOTIFY, since ON_NOTIFY uses the control id and not just
the message code.

Therefore the conclusion is to use WM_USER messages only when sending
notification messages and not normal windows messages.

One alternative to using custom Windows messages that are based on the
WM_USER message is to register your own Windows messages. The idea behind
registered messages is to create a unique Windows message based upon
a string. Any window that knows the string can obtain the message code
and therefore,
respond to the predefined message. This allows several components to
create custom messages, and by simply concatenating the component name
to the message
name, they can be sure that their string is unique, and therefore the
message code is unique.

Here’s an example of how to add the message handler of a registered
message on the client side using the MFC message map.

static const UINT MsgSpecialCtrlChange = ::RegisterWindowMessage(SPECIAL_CTRL_CHANGE);



#define SPECIAL_CTRL_CHANGE _T(“Special_Change”)

Another nice advantage that registered message can provide, is the ability
to capture the message sent from another application, again by only knowing
the string.

The Windows Common Controls use this type of message routing from the
DLL to the user application for several messages such as FindOrReplace
command in RichEdit control. The intellimouse messages are also sent with registered
messages, instead of creating new windows messages for them.

Date Last Updated: March 5, 1999

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