Accessing values exported from dlls

Sometimes, a dll not only exports functions, it also exports variables. An example in the Python library itself is the Py_OptimizeFlag, an integer set to 0, 1, or 2, depending on the -O or -OO flag given on startup.

ctypes can access values like this with the in_dll class methods of the type. pythonapi ìs a predefined symbol giving access to the Python C api:

>>> opt_flag = c_int.in_dll(pythonapi, "Py_OptimizeFlag")
>>> print opt_flag

If the interpreter would have been started with -O, the sample would have printed c_long(1), or c_long(2) if -OO would have been specified.

An extended example which also demonstrates the use of pointers accesses the PyImport_FrozenModules pointer exported by Python.

Quoting the Python docs: This pointer is initialized to point to an array of ``struct _frozen`` records, terminated by one whose members are all NULL or zero. When a frozen module is imported, it is searched in this table. Third-party code could play tricks with this to provide a dynamically created collection of frozen modules.

So manipulating this pointer could even prove useful. To restrict the example size, we show only how this table can be read with ctypes:

>>> from ctypes import *
>>> class struct_frozen(Structure):
...     _fields_ = [("name", c_char_p),
...                 ("code", POINTER(c_ubyte)),
...                 ("size", c_int)]

We have defined the struct _frozen data type, so we can get the pointer to the table:

>>> FrozenTable = POINTER(struct_frozen)
>>> table = FrozenTable.in_dll(pythonapi, "PyImport_FrozenModules")

Since table is a pointer to the array of struct_frozen records, we can iterate over it, but we just have to make sure that our loop terminates, because pointers have no size. Sooner or later it would probably crash with an access violation or whatever, so it's better to break out of the loop when we hit the NULL entry:

>>> for item in table:
...    print item.name, item.size
...    if item.name is None:
...        break
__hello__ 104
__phello__ -104
__phello__.spam 104
None 0

The fact that standard Python has a frozen module and a frozen package (indicated by the negative size member) is not wellknown, it is only used for testing. Try it out with import __hello__ for example.

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