I'm writing C++ Windows code that will start a process, then read its stdout and stderr, separately, into buffers.

If I try to just read the streams one at a time it may hang if the child process is trying to write to the other stream. So I learned I need to create named pipes, and then make calls to ReadFile with an OVERLAPPED struct and wait on them.

The fully working solution is available at GitHub. However, I'm asking for a review mostly on the file ReadMultiplePipes.cpp listed below.

I only need to support 2 pipes (stdout & stderr), but I made a more general function that receives a vector of handles to pipes and returns a vector of chars of the same length. It reads them until they are all pending (or closed), and then waits on all the pending ones and goes back to reading again.

Here are my areas of concern:

  • Is the code correctly doing Overlapped I/O, that is, it won't hang if the subprocess is writing output, it won't lose bytes etc.
  • Is the error handling and resource management correct, i.e. no leaks.
  • Is there a shorter way to do it, I didn't think reading two streams would need so much code.


#include <algorithm>
#include <iostream>
#include <list>
#include <sstream>
#include <vector>

#include <tchar.h>
#include <Windows.h>

#include "Shared.h"

struct ReadPipeInfo
    ReadPipeInfo(HANDLE handle) : readHandle(handle)
        ZeroMemory(&overlapped, sizeof(OVERLAPPED));
        if (!(overlapped.hEvent = CreateEvent(nullptr, false, true, nullptr)))
            throw std::runtime_error("Call CreateEvent failed.");
    HANDLE readHandle = nullptr;
    std::vector<char> outputBuffer;
    OVERLAPPED overlapped = {};
    UCHAR buf[1024 * 4] = {};
    // 0   - open
    // 997 - ERROR_IO_PENDING  - Overlapped I/O operation is in progress.
    // 107 - ERROR_BROKEN_PIPE - The pipe has been ended.
    DWORD state = 0;

static DWORD ReadAndInsertOverlappedResult(ReadPipeInfo& readPipe);

std::vector<std::vector<char>> ReadFromMultiplePipes(const std::list<HANDLE>& handles)
    std::vector<std::shared_ptr<ReadPipeInfo>> readPipes;
    std::transform(handles.begin(), handles.end(), std::back_inserter(readPipes), [](HANDLE x) { return std::make_shared<ReadPipeInfo>(x); });

    while (std::any_of(readPipes.begin(), readPipes.end(), [](auto& i) { return i->state != ERROR_BROKEN_PIPE; }) )
        // Read until all pipes are pending or broken
        std::vector<std::shared_ptr<ReadPipeInfo>>::iterator it;
        while ((it = std::find_if(readPipes.begin(), readPipes.end(), [](auto& i) { return i->state == 0; })) != readPipes.end())
            auto& currOpenPipe = **it;
            BOOL rfResult = ::ReadFile(currOpenPipe.readHandle, currOpenPipe.buf, sizeof(currOpenPipe.buf), nullptr, &currOpenPipe.overlapped);
            if (rfResult)
                DWORD lastError = ::GetLastError();
                if (lastError != ERROR_IO_PENDING && lastError != ERROR_BROKEN_PIPE) // 997 109
                    throw std::runtime_error("ReadFile failed");
                    currOpenPipe.state = lastError;

        // Wait for pending IO
        std::vector<std::shared_ptr<ReadPipeInfo>> pendingReadPipes;
        std::copy_if(readPipes.begin(), readPipes.end(), std::back_inserter(pendingReadPipes), [](auto& x) { return x->state == ERROR_IO_PENDING; });
        if (pendingReadPipes.size() > 0)
            std::vector<HANDLE> eventsToWait;
            std::transform(pendingReadPipes.begin(), pendingReadPipes.end(), std::back_inserter(eventsToWait), [](auto& x) { return x->overlapped.hEvent; });
            DWORD waitResult = ::WaitForMultipleObjects((DWORD)eventsToWait.size(), eventsToWait.data(), FALSE, INFINITE);
            if (waitResult >= WAIT_OBJECT_0 && waitResult < WAIT_OBJECT_0 + pendingReadPipes.size())
                auto& currPendingPipe = *pendingReadPipes[waitResult];
                throw std::runtime_error("WaitForMultipleObjects failed");

    std::vector<std::vector<char>> ret;
    std::transform(readPipes.begin(), readPipes.end(), std::back_inserter(ret), [](auto& x) { return x->outputBuffer; });
    return ret;

static DWORD ReadAndInsertOverlappedResult(ReadPipeInfo& readPipe)
    DWORD lpNumberOfBytesTransferred = 0;
    BOOL gor = ::GetOverlappedResult(readPipe.readHandle, &readPipe.overlapped, &lpNumberOfBytesTransferred, false);
    if (gor)
        readPipe.state = 0;
        readPipe.outputBuffer.insert(readPipe.outputBuffer.end(), readPipe.buf, readPipe.buf + lpNumberOfBytesTransferred);
        return TRUE;
        if (::GetLastError() != ERROR_BROKEN_PIPE) // 109
            return FALSE;
        readPipe.state = ERROR_BROKEN_PIPE;
        return TRUE;


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