XML Help Lotech Solutions (www.lotechsolutions.com)

What is XML Help?

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XML Help is the name Microsoft appear to be using to describe their latest HTML Help incarnation using XML, which they previously termed Microsoft Help or HTML Help 2. 

XML Help is not officially released yet (at the time of writing 11/02) and isn't expected for general release until 2003.  It currently only works within the Visual Studio dotNET IDE, and has no standalone distributable viewer.

The following diagram illustrates how we think XML Help currently fits together.

The circles with crosses in them represent some sort of process. The squares with lines across them represent documents.

The drawing is divided into coloured sections, each performed by a different process: brown, blue, red and green.

Brown section:

The C# coder writes an appropriately XML tagged comment in his code using the triple forward slash leader.

With appropriate settings on the C# compiler, they produce their C# program output and XML documents containing the XML comments from the code.

Blue section:

Somehow or other, we take the XML documents and create the dynamic help lists.  The process is documented in the VS.NET help, and we'll explore that when the time comes.

Red section:

The C# coder launches the nDoc project which takes the XML documents as its source, and generates HTML help as its output. It uses the MSDN styles and scripts to look and feel like the MSDN help.

Green section:

At last, something for the documenters to do.  We take the HTML help and XML documents as source, add few conceptual and introductory HTML topics of our own, and mix them into an VS.NET XML Help project to create an integrated XML Help (currently only viewable within the VS.NET IDE).


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See Also

Lotech Solutions' Tips, Tricks, and Procedures | How to create an XML Help project | How to navigate around the VS dotNET IDE

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