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Sandcastle: create help doc for Visual Studio projects

Lately, I found Sandcastle Help File Builder (SHFB), a tool to create help documentation for ASP.NET and DLL projects. This post was crested with SHFB version 2014.4.22.0. The installation process requires to install several pieces of software, but it’s all in the same installation process, so even if it’s not a next-next installation, it’s pretty straight forward. Please note that, if the there are missing items in the documentation (e.g. the project summary is missing, a method parameter is not documented), a red error message will be placed into the output documentation.

Steps to create the documentation for a DLL project

  1. Open the DLL project in Visual Studio (I use VS 2010 Premium).
  2. Menu “Project > (your project name) Properties…”.
  3. Select the “Build” tab.
  4. Check the “XML documentation file” checkbox and save the changes.
  5. Build the project.
  6. Open Sandcastle and create a new project.
  7. In the “Project Explorer” panel, right click on “Documentation Sources” and select the compiled DLL file and the XML that was generated in the same folder (probably “Bin\Debug”).
  8. In the “Project Explorer” panel, right click on “References” and add all the DLL’s that were used to compile your DLL.
  9. In the Project Properties” panel, click on the “Build” section and select the output format (e.g. “HTML Help 1 (chm)”).
  10. Menu “Documentation > Build Project”. This will create the output help files.
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