Version: 3.2.5
C++ Exceptions

wxWidgets had been started long before the exceptions were introduced in C++ so it is not very surprising that it is not built around using them as some more modern C++ libraries are.

For instance, the library doesn't throw exceptions to signal about the errors. Moreover, up to (and including) the version 2.4 of wxWidgets, even using the exceptions in the user code was dangerous because the library code wasn't exception-safe and so an exception propagating through it could result in memory and/or resource leaks, and also not very convenient.

However the recent wxWidgets versions are exception-friendly. This means that while the library still doesn't use the exceptions by itself, it should be now safe to use the exceptions in the user code and the library tries to help you with this.

Strategies for Exception Handling

There are several choice for using the exceptions in wxWidgets programs. First of all, you may not use them at all. As stated above, the library doesn't throw any exceptions by itself and so you don't have to worry about exceptions at all unless your own code throws them. This is, of course, the simplest solution but may be not the best one to deal with all possible errors.

The next simplest strategy is to only use exceptions inside non-GUI code, i.e. never let unhandled exceptions escape the event handler in which it happened. In this case using exceptions in wxWidgets programs is not different from using them in any other C++ program.

Things get more interesting if you decide to let (at least some) exceptions escape from the event handler in which they occurred. Such exceptions will be caught by wxWidgets and the special wxApp::OnExceptionInMainLoop() method will be called from the catch clause. This allows you to decide in a single place what to do about such exceptions: you may want to handle the exception somehow or terminate the program. In this sense, OnExceptionInMainLoop() is equivalent to putting a try/catch block around the entire main() function body in the traditional console programs. However notice that, as its name indicates, this method won't help you with the exceptions thrown before the main loop is started or after it is over, so you may still want to have try/catch in your overridden wxApp::OnInit() and wxApp::OnExit() methods too, otherwise wxApp::OnUnhandledException() will be called.

Finally, notice that even if you decide to not let any exceptions escape in this way, this still may happen unexpectedly in a program using exceptions as a result of a bug. So consider always overriding OnExceptionInMainLoop() in your wxApp-derived class if you use exceptions in your program, whether you expect it to be called or not. In the latter case you may simple re-throw the exception and let it bubble up to OnUnhandledException() as well.

To summarize, when you use exceptions in your code, you may handle them in the following places, in order of priority:

  1. In a try/catch block inside an event handler.
  2. In wxApp::OnExceptionInMainLoop().
  3. In wxApp::OnUnhandledException().

In the first two cases you may decide whether you want to handle the exception and continue execution or to exit the program. In the last one the program is about to exit already so you can just try to save any unsaved data and notify the user about the problem (while being careful not to throw any more exceptions as otherwise std::terminate() will be called).

Handling Exception Inside wxYield()

In some, relatively rare cases, using wxApp::OnExceptionInMainLoop() may not be sufficiently flexible. The most common example is using automated GUI tests, when test failures are signaled by throwing an exception and these exceptions can't be caught in a single central method because their handling depends on the test logic, e.g. sometimes an exception is expected while at other times it is an actual error. Typically this results in writing code like the following:

void TestNewDocument()
ui.Char('n', wxMOD_CONTROL); // simulate creating a new file
// Let wxWidgets dispatch Ctrl+N event, invoke the handler and create the
// new document.
try {
} catch ( ... ) {
// Handle exceptions as failure in the new document creation test.
wxUIActionSimulator is a class used to simulate user interface actions such as a mouse click or a key...
Definition: uiaction.h:28
bool Char(int keycode, int modifiers=wxMOD_NONE)
Press and release a key.
Ctlr Key, corresponds to Command key on macOS.
Definition: defs.h:1126
bool wxYield()
Calls wxAppConsole::Yield if there is an existing application object.

Unfortunately, by default this example only works when using a C++11 compiler because the exception can't be safely propagated back to the code handling it in TestNewDocument() through the system event dispatch functions which are not compatible with C++ exceptions and needs to be stored by wxWidgets when it is first caught and rethrown later, when it is safe to do it. And such storing and rethrowing of exceptions is only possible in C++11, so while everything just works if you do use C++11, there is an extra step if you are using C++98: In this case you need to override wxApp::StoreCurrentException() and wxApp::RethrowStoredException() to help wxWidgets to do this, please see the documentation of these functions for more details.


To use any kind of exception support in the library you need to build it with wxUSE_EXCEPTIONS set to 1. It is turned on by default but you may wish to check include/wx/msw/setup.h file under Windows or run configure with explicit --enable-exceptions argument under Unix.

On the other hand, if you do not plan to use exceptions, setting this flag to 0 or using --disable-exceptions could result in a leaner and slightly faster library.

As for any other library feature, there is a sample (except) showing how to use it. Please look at its sources for further information.