How can I trigger a recalc of the mouse cursor after I changed some of my internal application state?, follow-up

Raymond Chen

Some time ago, I described how to trigger a recalc of the mouse cursor after changing internal application state. In the bonus chatter, I noted that the cursor you set with Set­Cursor is used only when the mouse is over a window belonging to the thread that called it. Commenter Stuart Ballard asked,

Does the Bonus Chatter imply that in theory there’s no need for the

window == child || IsChild(window, child)

check at all? If I understand rightly, all we’re doing is sending a message saying “the mouse cursor moved”. Is there any reason it’d be bad for an unrelated window to receive a message like that?

The danger here is that the window you find may belong to a window from another thread. If you removed the “is for me or my children” check, then you are going to ask that other window to do a cursor recalculation, and that has a few problems.

First, it reopens the race condition I discussed in the bonus chatter: If the mouse has moved since the time you called Get­Cursor­Pos, then you are going to ask that other window to recalculate based on stale data. And this time, the problem is real: That other window may have already processed the system-generated WM_SET­CURSOR message, and then you follow up with a WM_SET­CURSOR message with the wrong coordinates, leaving the cursor in an incorrect state.

There’s also a race condition if the target window reconfigures itself between the WM_HIT­TEST message and the WM_SET­CURSOR message, and you end up asking the window to set its cursor based on outdated information.

This was not a problem if the message was for a window belonging to the same thread, because you know that the window cannot reconfigure itself between the WM_HIT­TEST message and the WM_SET­CURSOR message, nor can it process a newer mouse-move event: Those actions would have to happen on the same thread, and that thread is busy running your code.

Another danger of removing the extra test is that the target window’s thread may be hung. and trying to send a message to that window will cause your thread to hang, too.

So keep filtering the window before you ask it to recalculate the mouse cursor.

Bonus chatter: Does this mean that you can simplify the test to

GetWindowThreadProcessId(child, nullptr) == GetCurrentThreadId()

?

No.

Cross-thread window hierarchies are valid, and if there is a child window that belongs to another thread, you stil want to tell it to recalculate the cursor. There is no race condition here, however, because cross-thread window hierarchies result in in input queue synchronization, so the other thread won’t receive cursor messages until the current thread has finished.

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