how to show help files in VisualStudio help

Topics: General Questions
Apr 15, 2010 at 1:48 PM

All --

Please help.

I need to know how to show help files in VisualStudio help.

That is, I want to generate help files from my project and then show that help file in the standard VisualStudio help that comes up when I am working in VisualStudio.

At this point, I certainly need to know-- should I be creating a DocProject or a DocSite?

(I think the answer is DocProject; but, I want to check.)

After I get that far, what are the next-steps in the process?

Please advise.

I know there is excellent documentation; but, still, if there is any advice on how to fast-track this then that would be great because my output just needs to be out-of-the-box and GEFN.

Thank you.

-- Mark Kamoski


Apr 15, 2010 at 4:35 PM
Edited Apr 15, 2010 at 8:14 PM

Hi Mark,

You can use either a DocProject or a DocSite.  If you do not plan on publishing the documentation to the web or hosting it internally, then a DocSite is unnecessary.

When you create the DocProject, the New Project Wizard offers a step (#4) that will allow you to choose the type of compiled help that you want.  You'll want to choose Help 2.x.  This will compile documentation that can be hosted by Microsoft's Document Explorer program, which Visual Studio launches to display its help.  (Help 1.x may also be chosen to compile a distributable help file, but it's unused by Visual Studio.)

Help 2.x requires the Visual Studio SDK to be installed.  If you do not have it installed, then the Help 2.x option will be disabled in the wizard and a link will be provided to download the VS SDK.

1. Follow the link and start downloading the SDK.
   a. Make sure the URL is still correct for the version of Visual Studio that you are using.  Also make sure the link is not outdated; e.g., there may be a newer SDK service pack release.
2. Ignore the Help 2.x option for now and complete the New Project Wizard to create your DocProject without Help 2.x enabled.
3. Save your new DocProject and close all open instances of Visual Studio.
4. When the download is complete, install the Visual Studio SDK.
5. After the SDK is installed, delete the DXROOT user environment variable that it created.  You'll find specific instructions in the release notes.
   a. Latest Release Notes  §Optional, Help 2.x, Important SDK Installation Notes
6. Reboot your computer.
7. After your computer reboots, start Visual Studio and open the DocProject that you created.
8. Open the DocProject Properties window for your project.
9. Enable the Build > Help 2.x option.
   a. How To Configure DocProject  §Active Projects Page, Sandcastle Options

Building your DocProject will now produce an .HxS file, which is a compiled Help 2.x file.

There are a couple of ways to get your .HxS file registered on a computer so that it shows up in Document Explorer.  See the following links for more information.

Help Integration Wizard

H2Reg Home Page

I highly recommend searching the Dev Docs forum for help regarding Help 2.x since this is not an area that I know much about.

- Dave

Apr 15, 2010 at 8:02 PM
It works perfectly.

Thank you!