Monitoring Outlook COM Objects with Deviare

We all remember when Ole Automation came out. We were all impressed how simple it was to implement a few COM Interfaces, place a toolbar and interact with the office package. Soon the competition began to show who could create the best and most creative Add-on. How many times did you wonder how that other plug-ins “did that”? What if now you can even know how Outlook, or any Office application operates? Well, my friend, take a closer a look…

This Deviare example is implemented as an Outlook Add-on. We have used C# .Net, but you can use any language that supports Component Object Model.

We are using 2 threads to avoid freezing the application. The first one is the standard thread where Outlook report its events to us. The second is our worker thread where we create an output window to print our messages and a Deviare Event Proxy to process functions’ calls.

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From the events Outlook provides us to work with we are only interested in OnStartupComplete. Here we know that Outlook is done with all its initialization and we can start hooking its interfaces. As a regular plug-in we ask for the Outlook Application, Active Explorer, CommandBars and create a CommandBarButton. We are going to intercept all of them and see how their members are used.

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Notice that to obtain the interface we don’t use the class implementation, but the underlying interface definition. That’s why, when calling HookInterface, we send the Type of Outlook._Application and not Outlook.Application. The second one, is the .Net wrapper, and the first one is the Ole Interface.

To intercept these objects, Deviare needs some information. The necessary elements are the COM Object Interface (that would be its virtual table), which members we are interested in (specified by index), and the name of the Interface. Identifying the interface by name, will let Deviare find all the information it needs during the call, so you can handle its parameters the same way we did with any function hook. To gather all this the .Net Framework provides us with marshaling facilities (System.Runtime.InteropServices.Marshal), this makes our lives pretty easy ;).

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And that’s all. We print our calls, and see our results:

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Cheers, and happy coding!

  • I’m interested in downloading the source code for this. I’m currently working on getting listening for specific ActiveX (.OCX) components methods. Is it basically the same?

    Thanks.

    • Eric, this is an old article for an old version of Deviare. Deviare was completely rewritten and things are handled differently. I saw that you also contacted us from another channel, we will answer very soon.