Using Lambdas in MFC Applications – Part 2: Replacing Callback Functions

According to C++11 Standard, stateless lambdas, i.e. having an empty lambda introducer or capture no variables, are implicitly convertible to function pointers. Visual C++ in Visual Studio 2012 and newer, supports this feature. Moreover, in Visual C++ stateless lambdas are convertible to function pointers with arbitrary calling conventions. This is great if have to deal with Win32 API functions, most of them using __stdcall calling convention.
Let’s begin with two simple examples of enumerating top-level windows, one by using a callback function and the other by using a lambda expression.

Enumerate windows using “classic” callback functions

Usually, for that purpose we declare and implement as callback, a static member function having the signature required by EnumWindows in its first argument.


  • CALLBACK is defined in Windows SDK as __stdcall.

Enumerate windows using lambda expressions

The same result can be achieved by using a lambda expression. This is somehow simpler because does not require to declare and define a static member function.


  • as stated in the introduction, there is not necessary to explicitly convert the lambda expression to the function pointer required by EnumWindowsProc (WNDENUMPROC);
  • as stated in the introduction, there is not possible to capture neither local variables, nor this pointer; luckily, like in many other WinAPI callbacks, we can pass the necessary stuff in a parameter of type LPARAM or LPVOID.

Using nested lambda expressions

Let’s say we want to enumerate the top-level windows in a worker thread. We can write something like this:

We have passed lambdas both for callback parameter of AfxBeginThread and EnumWindows. EnumWindows is called in the first lambda body and takes a lambda as well.
This compiles with no problem in x64 builds, but may give a conversion error for the inner lambda in Win32 ones. That’s a little glitch which AFAIK has been fixed in Visual Studio 2015.
However, to be sure it compiles also in Visual Studio 2012/2013 – Win32 builds, we can simply cast explicitly the inner lambda.


  • x64 builds has no __stdcall calling convention; __stdcall keyword is still accepted but simply ignored by the compiler.
  • of course, we can use lambda expressions in the same way also in ATL applications or C++ programs that use plain WinAPI.

Resources and related articles

Leave a Reply