Help Authoring Tool (HAT) support for Help Viewer 1.0

As we've been ramping up the new the Help Viewer and its associated Help file format (MSHC), we've also been working closely with a few vendors to ensure that we have a good Help Authoring Tool (HAT) story for Visual Studio 2010.

We have been working principally with the vendors that have historically been supporting Visual Studio's help system in the past (with Help 2.x). We are excited about the long-term growth potential of our new help system and welcome engagement with other HAT vendors as well. If you are in that category, please contact me via the contact form and I'll be glad to follow up with you.

Below are listed the current Help Authoring Tool (HAT) vendors that currently support the Visual Studio 2010 Help format (MSHC). I have collected a little statement from each about their offering and how best to contact them at this time. They are listed below in alphabetical order for convenience sake (no indication of preference or quality, etc. implied):

ComponentOne, LLC:

"Doc-To-Help has always had a close relationship with Microsoft and the MSDN user community. You will always enjoy support of Microsoft’s latest technologies from their standard Help platforms to .NET developer technologies such as Help 2.0, Sandcastle, and .NET/XML transforms.

Doc-To-Help will also always serve the community’s needs by addressing and supporting emerging technologies such as Visual Studio 2010, Microsoft Help Viewer 1.0, and beyond.

If anyone is interested in a beta version of Doc-To-Help 2010 that works with MS Help Viewer, please contact Brad Keller at ComponentOne:" Brad Keller - ComponentOne, LLC.


VSdocman is a VS add-in for commenting and the automatic generation of class documentation from your C# and VB .NET source code. VSdocman parses the Visual Basic and C# projects (including ASP .NET) and automatically creates MSDN-like documentation, IntelliSense and F1 context sensitive help. You can edit your XML comments with WYSIWYG comment editor which allows inserting complex tables, links, pictures, class diagrams and others. Predefined output formats are HTML Help, MS Help Viewer, Help 2, HTML, RTF, Help&Manual and XML. Contact and other information can be found on product page." Peter Macej - Helixoft

The Helpware Group:

"mshcMigrate was developed by The Helpware Group in partnership with Microsoft and allows you to migrate older help content (MS Help 2 and MS HTML Help 1.x) to MS Help Viewer format (the new format for MS Visual Studio 2010 help). It takes various inputs including projects files (.hxc and .hhp), compiled help files (.hxs and .chm), and help folders. Outputs include .mshc/.cab help package files and .msha manifest files. The application includes several additional tools that allows you to test, install/uninstall, view the HelpLibManager.exe output log, perform API calls, and explore the help library data store. The utility is part of Helpware's FAR HTML v5 product set which provides advanced meta tag editing and TOC/Index editing for MS Help Viewer projects. mshcMigrate however can be downloaded separately and is free for personal use (see mshcMigrate licensing for further detail). Contact and support details can be found on the download page." Robert Chandler - The Helpware Group

Innovasys, Ltd.:

"Innovasys are currently finalizing updates to Document! X and HelpStudio to support seamless multi-targeting of Help 2.x (VS 2002 - 2008) and Microsoft Help Viewer (VS 2010) for both reference (assembly SDK docs) and conceptual documentation. Contact if you would like to take part in the beta." Richard Sloggett - Innovasys, Ltd.




Many people have been asking about whether we will be updating the Sandcastle toolset to support Help Viewer 1.0. I'm pleased to announce that we have posted a release of Sandcastle that now supports the MSHC Help file format used by Visual Studio 2010.

The MSHC support was commissioned from ComponentOne, whom we thank for updating the code base to support this new Help format. We have additionally rolled in a variety of bug fixes since the last release in 2008. Please note the MSHC Usage Notes and Changes/bug fixes documentation links on the download site.

MSHC support is currently limited to reproducing the VS 2008 look and feel and functionality within the VS 2010 Help Viewer. To achieve parity with VS 2010 look and feel will require more work and we encourage enterprising folk out there to take this on and contribute to the code base.

See also the Sandcastle blog here.

Comments (4)

  1. Paul Selormey says:

    >> We have been working principally with the vendors…

    They are aware and we know where to find their adverts.

    Like Scott Guthrie or Anand, can you tell us something more technical?

  2. Paul – thanks for your comment. Do you have any suggestions for specific areas in Help you’d like me to address?

  3. Manoj Mehta says:

    Hey Paul,

    Has Sandcastle been officially updated to allow 3rd parties to generate documentation targeting Visual Studio? Is there an update to the templates so that the generated documentation has the VS2010 look and feel?



  4. Hello Manoj – we’re getting close to having a release of Sandcastle for that purpose. Please stay tuned…

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