May 12, 2007

DocProject for Sandcastle: Custom Topics

Update 2/10/08: DocProject 1.10.0 RC provides first-class support for Sandcastle's conceptual build process, which compiles additional content written in the XML-based Microsoft Assistance Markup Language (MAML) to produce MSDN-like help topics, optionally in combination with auto-generated reference topics.  19 conceptual templates are provided by DocProject and the MAML schemas are provided for IntelliSense in Visual Studio's XML editor.  You can find more information in my blog, here and here.  If you want to include raw HTML topics into help builds, read this post for more information.

Recently, a few people have mentioned that they'd like support in DocProject for generating custom topics that maintain the look and feel of the selected presentation. While designing DocProject I had thought about this and tried to provide an easy way for developers to create custom topics, which is why the partial build functionality was developed. But until now I haven't mentioned much about this feature or how it works.

I just added a tutorial to DocProject on CodePlex, which explains how to create custom topics using the partial build feature:

Tutorial: Creating Custom Topics

The tutorial explains how to create an HTML topic template from one of the files that Sandcastle generates (namely, R_Project.htm). It also describes how you can use Visual Studio's HTML designer to generate your own topic files based on the template and how to include them in the Html Help Workshop table of contents (TOC). Code is also provided that extends the default build process component to automate some of the steps in the tutorial.

Enjoy, and let me know what you think :)

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