DEV Community

Josef Biehler
Josef Biehler

Posted on

Read function arguments from .NET applications with .NET ProfilingAPI

Get the full runnable example: here

Today I want to guide you through the process of getting function parameters and return values. As always I am using the code from the last blogpost and extend it where necessary. For this article we have to adjust EnterCpp and the part of assembler code that calls this function.

While writing this lines I had no idea how this can be achieved. Of course I had the documentation about the FunctionEnter2 callback and it's parameter COR_PRF_FUNCTION_ARGUMENT_INFO *argumentInfo. But how I had to use it was not described. I also found no example in the world wide web but luckily I found someone who tried the same and was asking for help in the official dotnet repo. He doesn't get a complete working example but only a short explanation how he can get what he wants. This was enough for me to figure out the remaining stuff.

Modifying the Assembler code

Before we can start writing cool C++ code we must adjust the function signature of EnterCpp. When looking at the raw ICorProfiler definition of the enter callback, we can identify one additional argument that we should pass along with the FunctionId, named argumentInfo:

void FnEnterCallback(FunctionID funcId, UINT_PTR clientData, COR_PRF_FRAME_INFO func, COR_PRF_FUNCTION_ARGUMENT_INFO argumentInfo)

So let's change the signature of EnterCpp:

void EnterCpp(FunctionID funcId, COR_PRF_FUNCTION_ARGUMENT_INFO * argumentInfo)

In case of 64 bit assembler argumentInfo is the fourth parameter from left and thus is located in the register R9. To make it available to EnterCpp just copy it to RDX:


In case of 32 bit assembler, we have to push the correct value from the stack:

push [ESP+20]

Feel free to take a look into the code to see the full assembler code.

Necessary steps if we know the types

For this first try I assume that we know the types of the parameter and I know that the functions will have only one parameter. Using those preconditions makes it easier to get a first runnable example.

You need these steps:

  • Skip all functions whose name does not match our predefined set of functions
  • get a pointer to the function parameter
  • skip object header (if exists)
  • process data according to it's type

In the end this is not too hard to build. But as always, I needed a lot of try&error to get it right.

Skip functions

Well, this is easy. Just get the function name and compare it against our known function names. Utilize the Utils class for that:

char* fnName = new char[100];
utils->GetFunctionNameById(funcId, fnName, 100);

if (strcmp(fnName, "FunctionWithParameter") == 0) {
    //... do something

Get Pointer to function arguments

From what I have understand, the argumentInfo points to an struct that describes memory blocks with parameters. The reason for this is that parameters are not accessible in an continuous memory block but are split up for technical reasons.

  • argumentInfo->numRanges is the amount of such blocks
  • argumentInfo->ranges is an array of data

As we just have one parameter, this is not something we care about. So let's focus on argumentInfo->ranges[0].startAddress.

COR_PRF_FUNCTION_ARGUMENT_RANGE range = argumentInfo->ranges[0];
UINT_PTR valuePtr = range.startAddress;

So what is valuePtr? I haven't found a documentation about that but from what I have seen by debugging and testing, valuePtr is:

  • value type like 'int': a pointer to the value
  • object: a pointer to the Method Table pointer
  • Struct: a pointer to the struct

Skip object header

This article states that an object points to the Method Table Pointer and not to the beginning of the object data. Right now we don't need the information contained in the header and thus can skip it. Attention: Take care of the correct pointer size on 32 bit systems vs 64 bit systems. Of course you don't have to care about it if the parameter's type is not of type Object.

Process data

How can we interpret the data? Well, this depends on the data type. This raises the question, how we know the internal representation of the data? There are at least two possibilities to get an answer to this question. One is to read books and articles from Microsoft or other people about that topic. Another approach, which is sufficient in many times, is to use a .NET project + Visual Studio + Debugger to inspect the memory.

To do this we first need some C# code:

static void Main(string[] args)
    IntArrayFn(new int[] { 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10});

static void IntArrayFn(int[] intArray)
    // place a breakpoint here and leave the method empty

Now execute the project as 64 bit application. This will produce function calls following the fastcall convention. That means that the parameters of IntArrayFn are passed from left to right in the registers RCX, RDX, R8, R9. This gives us the possibility to retrieve the memory address of the argument by inspecting the registers. Run the application and as soon as the breakpoint is hit, open Debugging > Window > Register to display the registers:

Copy the value from RCX (000002015C922F40) into Debugging > Window > Memory:

The first marked area is the pointer to the Method Table. The next 8 bytes represent the length of the array and after that you see the array elements with 4 bytes in size each.


Now I show you some examples. In every example I am using this code in EnterCpp:

extern "C" void _stdcall EnterCpp(
  FunctionID funcId,

  char* fnName = new char[100];
  utils->GetFunctionNameById(funcId, fnName, 100);

And this C# code in the test application:

using System;

namespace TestApp
  class Program
    static void Main(string[] args)

      StructFn(new TestStruct { Int1 = 101, Int2 = 102, Int3 = 103 });
      IntArrayFn(new[] { 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 });
      StringFn("Hello from C#");


    static void IntArrayFn(int[] intArray)
    static void StringFn(string str)

    static void IntFn(int i1)

    static void StructFn(TestStruct t)

  struct TestStruct
    public int Int1;
    public int Int2;
    public int Int3;


This is very easy. An integer is a value type and as such I can access it directly:

if (strcmp(fnName, "IntFn") == 0) {
    COR_PRF_FUNCTION_ARGUMENT_RANGE range = argumentInfo->ranges[0];
    UINT_PTR valuePtr = range.startAddress;
    int* ptr = (int*)valuePtr;

    std::cout << "\r\n\r\n## Entered IntFn ##\r\n";
    std::cout << "argument: " << *ptr << "\r\n";
    std::cout << "## IntFn ends ##";


A struct also is a value type and thus can be handled like an integer. All fields of the struct are in memory one after the other:

if (strcmp(fnName, "StructFn") == 0) {
    COR_PRF_FUNCTION_ARGUMENT_RANGE range = argumentInfo->ranges[0];
    UINT_PTR valuePtr = range.startAddress;
    int* ptr = (int*)valuePtr;
    std::cout << "\r\n\r\n## Entered StructFn() ##\r\n";
    std::cout << "size of range: " << range.length << "\r\n";
    std::cout << "arguments: Int1 = " << *ptr << ", Int2 = " << *(ptr + 1) << ", Int3 = " << *(ptr + 2) << "\r\n";
    std::cout << "## StructFn() ends ##";

range.length is 12, because the struct consists of three fields where evry field needs four bytes.


Now we see the handling of the object header.

if (strcmp(fnName, "IntArrayFn") == 0) {
    COR_PRF_FUNCTION_ARGUMENT_RANGE range = argumentInfo->ranges[0];
    UINT_PTR valuePtr = range.startAddress;

    int** ptr = (int**)valuePtr;
    int* intArray = *ptr;

    std::cout << "\r\n\r\n## Enter IntArrayFn ##\r\n";
    intArray = intArray + sizeof(int*)/sizeof(int); //skip object header of array
    long arrayLength = *(long*)intArray;
    std::cout << "Length: " << arrayLength << "\r\n";
    intArray += sizeof(int*) / sizeof(int);
    std::cout << "Arguments: ";

    for (int i = 0; i < arrayLength; i++)
      std:cout << "," << *intArray;
      intArray += 1;

    std::cout << "\r\n## IntArrayFn ends ##";

sizeof(int*)/sizeof(int) is 2 in case of a 64 bit application and 1 for 32 bit applications.

Remember, raising a int* by one means to skip four bytes.

After skipping the header and reading the size, we have access to all array elements.


A string is a little bit special because we have to convert it to print it to the console. I have copied a few lines of code for that task from a Stackoverflow article. Apart from this it is the same like in the integer array above:

if (strcmp(fnName, "StringFn") == 0) {
    COR_PRF_FUNCTION_ARGUMENT_RANGE range = argumentInfo->ranges[0];
    UINT_PTR valuePtr = range.startAddress;

    byte** ptr = (byte**)valuePtr;
    byte* strPtr = *ptr;
    strPtr = strPtr + sizeof(int*);
    long stringLength = *(long*)strPtr;
    strPtr += 4;
    char* dest = new char[100];

    std::wstring_convert<std::codecvt_utf8_utf16<char16_t>, char16_t> codecvt;
    std::string u8str = codecvt.to_bytes((char16_t*)strPtr);

    std::cout << "\r\n\r\n## Entered StringFn ##\r\n";
    std::cout << "Length: " << stringLength << "\r\n";
    std::cout << "\r\argument: " << u8str;
    std::cout << "\r\n## StringFn ends ##";

    delete[] dest;


As you can see, it is no big deal at all. I think I will try to get the values of unknown functions, too. This will be helpful in some debugging scenarios I think.

Additional Links

Memory Layout
Layout of managed Arrays

Found a typo?

As I am not a native English speaker, it is very likely that you will find an error. In this case, feel free to create a pull request here: . Also please open a PR for all other kind of errors.

Do not worry about merge conflicts. I will resolve them on my own.

Top comments (1)

vkhasilev profile image

Thanks for this series of articles. Very useful and well-written... and timely :) Just start working on some profiler solution