How to deal with spaces in path using boost::process::child?

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I need to execute a Windows Batch script. By company policy, I have to use boost::process::child for that matter. The path to the Windows Batch script contains whitespaces (e.g. C:\Foo Bar\batch.bat).

I am using the following code:

namespace bp = boost::process;
error_code errorCode;
bp::ipstream errorStream;
auto child = bp::child("C:\\Foo Bar\\batch.bat",
    bp::std_out > bp::null,    // ignore standard output
    bp::std_err > errorStream, // capture standard error
    bp::windows::hide,        // hide window
    bp::shell);               // use shell

  vector<string> errorData;
  string errorLine;

  while (child.running() && getline(errorStream, errorLine) && !errorLine.empty())

The issue is that the system (boost::process) does not found the path. A error message would look like:

'C:\Foo' is not recognized as an internal or external command, operable program or batch file.

I also have tried the following masking variants:

  • C:\\Foo Bar\\batch.bat
  • C:\\Foo\ Bar\\batch.bat
  • "C:\\Foo Bar\\batch.bat"
  • C:\\Foo~1\\batch.bat

How to mask the whitespace correctly, so child() can find/execute the Batch script correctly?

Wrap "C:\\Foo Bar\\batch.bat" into boost::filesystem::path(), so that it quotes the string for you:

auto child = bp::child(boost::filesystem::path("C:\\Foo Bar\\batch.bat"),

Tutorial - 1.64.0, namespace bp = boost::process; //we will assume this for all further examples string from an external source as boost::filesystem::path , we can do this too. a process and immediately detaches it, so no handle will be returned and the process will be ignored. So we launch the process, by calling the child constructor. Therefore, you can process a large amount of data without using too much memory at any one time. Let’s see how we can use spawn() to make a child process. We will write a new Node.js module that creates a child process to run the find command. We will use the find command to list all the files in the current directory.

I suggest following @Maxim's answer.

Alternatively, escape the space using a backslash:

"C:\\Foo\\ Bar\\batch.bat"

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bp::child c(
    bp::exe(boost::filesystem::path("C:\\Foo Bar\\batch.bat").c_str()),
    bp::cmd("options here"), 
    bp::std_out > os,
    bp::std_err > es,
    bp::start_dir("workdir here")

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Assuming this gets turned into a Windows CreateProcess call, then the path to the application must be in double quotes in order to allow spaces in the path. In fact it's recommended that the path ALWAYS be surrounded in double quotes.

So you would use:

auto child = bp::child("\"C:\\Foo Bar\\batch.bat\"",

I don't know if Boost::child will actually allow this to work.

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  • Perhaps adding quotes would help? "\"C:\\Foo Bar\\batch.bat\""
  • I would additionally suggest trying one or all of the following: "C:\\Foo\ Bar\\batch.bat", "C:\\Foo\" \"Bar\\batch.bat", "C:/Foo Bar/batch.bat" and "\"C:/Foo Bar/batch.bat\"".
  • Unfortunately, this solution will result in the same error as mentioned in the question. Unless I overlook something obvious.
  • I can confirm this does not work (boost 1.64.0). Having the same problem and no idea how to solve it.
  • I'm assuming, how it currently reads, that it would look for "C:\Foo\ Bar\batch.bat". My understanding is that the backslashes in the path are each escaped, using a backslash as the escape character, so it would follow that the space is escaped similarly. I would therefore expect that you should use "C:\\Foo\ Bar\\batch.bat" instead. That said, burnersk states in the question, that they've already tried that particular string, (but without the doublequotes).
  • The second backslash is the C/C++ string literal escape, so my string would be compiled to the actual characters/bytes C:\Foo\Bar\ Bar\batch.bat.
  • ruben, I'm not sure if I understand, if those are the actual characters, they don't match C:\Foo Bar\batch.bat.
  • If you pass that to e.g. cmd the espaced space will turn into a space. But in any case it seems extremely odd to me that @Maxim's suggestion doesn't work. I can4t be bothered to try and reproduce though.
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