.NET Cold Startup Performance: An Example

When running a .NET application for the first time after rebooting or hibernating the computer, you might find that it takes a long time to start up. I’ve been trying to address this problem in a few situations recently. In spite of having read several articles on the subject, I wasn’t having much success. Following some of the advice gave no noticeable improvement, and some (like using NGEN) actually slowed down startup. But I had some success recently, so I thought I’d explain how.

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Getting the Host’s Main Window Handle in an Office Add-in

Sometimes you want the window handle of the host application when you’re writing an Office add-in. Excel includes that as a property of the Application object in newer versions of the object model, but Word and PowerPoint don’t. I seem to remember some sample code from Microsoft that suggests using FindWindow to get the handle, but that always seems problematic:

  • You can search by class name (e.g. “OpusApp” for Word), but what if you somehow have multiple Word processes running? Which window do you get?
  • You can search by window text, but it can be really hard to figure out what the window text is.
  • You can set the Caption property on the Application object to some magic text and search for a window with the magic text, but Word throws all kinds of other stuff into the caption so this generally doesn’t work reliably.

Instead, if you’re using managed code, you can just do this:

IntPtr hwnd = Process.GetCurrentProcess().MainWindowHandle;

Underneath this uses EnumWindows and GetWindowThreadProcessId to find the right window.