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Automate SSH Logins by Customizing Putty

Taking Ownership of AutoPutty

At this point, I can successfully launch AutoPutty, but I can't really start calling this an integrated part of my main program, PuttyDriver. All I have done is set up a launcher for a separate executable.

The next step in the integration process is to establish PuttyDriver as the owner of AutoPutty's main window. Most Windows programmers are familiar with the traditional parent/child relationship between windows. That relationship is well understood, but I can't use it here - it doesn't work for two top level windows.

Setting PuttyDriver to be the owner (as opposed to the parent) of AutoPutty has the following effects, as explained here by Microsoft:

  • The owned window will always be above its owner in the z-order.
  • The system automatically destroys the owned window when the owner is destroyed.
  • The owned window is hidden when the owner is minimized.

The most straightforward way to set ownership of the window is to pass the owner's handle in the call to CreateWindow(), which means I will now make my first modifications to the PuTTY source code.

There are a number of ways to pass the owner handle to AutoPutty for use in the call to CreateWindow(), with the most obvious being to pass it on the command line. In the interest of minimizing changes to the existing PuTTY code base, I elected to pass it by creating an environment variable that holds the owner window handle. Since a child process inherits the parent's environment, this is a no-fuss way to get the data to AutoPutty.

I added the following code to the end of InitDialog() in PuttyDriver:

CString hwnd_text;
hwnd_text.Format( "%d", m_hWnd );
SetEnvironmentVariable("PUTTY_OWNER", hwnd_text );

This sets the environment variable for AutoPutty to find when it gets launched.

Now I come to the point where I am actually making changes to the PuTTY code. Fortunately, all of the changes needed for this program are confined to two files: terminal.c and windows/window.c. My first change is to window.c. This file contains the WndProc for the PuTTY window, and thus most of the rendering and control code for the GUI.

In order to establish the Owner/Owned relationship, I need to modify the code that calls CreateWindow(). I hoisted the function call into a block, added code to get the owner window handle, and inserted the handle into the call to CreateWindow():

    HWND owner_hwnd = 0;
    char buffer[ 132 ];
    if ( GetEnvironmentVariable( "PUTTY_OWNER", buffer, 132 ) ) 	
        sscanf( buffer, "%d", &owner_hwnd );
    if ( owner_hwnd == 0 )
        MessageBox( NULL, 
                    "AutoPutty did not find the handle for the "
                    "owner window, this is not going to work", 
                    MB_OK );
    hwnd = CreateWindowEx(exwinmode, appname, appname,
                          winmode, CW_USEDEFAULT, CW_USEDEFAULT,
                          guess_width, guess_height,
                          owner_hwnd, NULL, inst, NULL);

At this point, I've only modified one small block of code in the PuTTY source, but I'm well on my way to having it behave more like a component of PuttyDriver and less like an independent program. The ownership status means that the two programs only appear once on the taskbar, and will only appear once when you are pressing ALT-TAB to select a new active process. And they only produce a single entry in the Applications Tab of Task Manager.

The Communications Link

In order to achieve the automation that I am seeking, I also need to have two way communications between AutoPutty and the driver program. Since this is Windows, a natural choice for communications is to use native Windows messages. In order to do this, both programs need the Window handle of their opposite number.

I've already solved half of that problem through the ownership relationship established when I created the main window for AutoPutty. Now that it has set PuttyDriver as its owner window, I can get this window handle any place in the program through a simple function call:

HWND parent = GetWindow(hwnd, GW_OWNER);

But the reverse is not true - PuttyDriver does not know have a copy of the window handle for AutoPutty.

To remedy this situation, I added code to window.c that notifies its owner when it s created, and when it is destroyed. First I add this statement immediately after the call to CreateWindow():

if ( owner_hwnd )
   PostMessage( owner_hwnd, WM_APP, 0, (LPARAM) hwnd );

This tells PuttyDriver that the window is created, and gives it the handle to use for communications.

I also need to know when the window is closed, and I have to add that code two places in window.c — because Putty can be shut down two different ways.

Normally, AutoPutty will shut down in response to a windows message. When this happens, I can count on a WM_CLOSE message being sent to the Windows Procedure. I add this code the existing handler for WM_CLOSE:

if (!cfg.warn_on_close || session_closed ||
               "Are you sure you want to close this session?",
    == IDOK) {
    HWND parent = GetWindow(hwnd, GW_OWNER);
    if ( parent )
        SendMessage( parent, WM_APP, 0, 0 );

This lets PuttyDriver know that the window has been destroyed.

The original PuTTY code has an alternative method of shutdown. When it receives one of several possible network events, such as a telnet connection being broken, it calls PostQuitMessage(). When a program shuts down this way, it doesn't issue messages to destroys its windows — it relies on the O/S to destroy the windows when the process exists. As a result, I have to make a change in WinMain(), the main window procedure for PuTTY. This procedure extracts the messages sent to it using PeekMessage, and I add some code to handle the processing when a WM_QUIT message is sent:

if (msg.message == WM_QUIT) {
    HWND parent = GetWindow(hwnd, GW_OWNER);
    if ( parent )
        SendMessage( parent, WM_APP, 0, 0 );			
    goto finished;	       /* two-level break */

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