Microsoft Sandcastle to possibly be released today

You can follow the posts in this thread, but I know a *lot* of people are anxiously awaiting the release of Microsoft Sandcastle.  Sandcastle is the codename for Microsoft’s NDoc like documentation compiler. 

I have spoken with people from Microsoft ever since .NET 2.0 came out about what tool they use to do their documentation.  We were having issues with NDoc 1.3 and generics and needed a solution.  Kevin Downs was kind enough to send me alpha releases of NDoc2, the next generation of NDoc, which fixed the issues with generics.

From comments by Anand Raman, The CTP release will not include and MSBuild tasks.  I wish I could have been on beta testing list for this because then I could have had the MSBuild tasks built and ready for the CTP release. 

I am curious if it will be possible to integrate the output from Sandcastle with Innovasys Help Studio Lite, which ships (free) with the Visual Studio 2005 SDK.  That would be cool because then we could have an integrated documentation release that included a getting started guide and SDK docs.

From other posts and forums I am able to get a little more info about it:

[via Andrew Stopford]

Sandcastle Overview:


  • Produces quality, comprehensive, familiar MSDN-like documentation.
  • Works with or without authored comments.
  • Supports Generics and .NET Framework 2.0
  • Sandcastle has 2 main components (MrefBuilder and Build Assembler)
  • MrefBuilder generates reflection xml file for Build Assembler
  • Build Assembler includes syntax generation, transformation..etc
  • Sandcastle is used internally to build .Net Framework documentation 
  • MS plan to "..include Sandcastle in our August CTP release of VS SDK."

[via Michael Primeaux]

Sandcastle generates documentation using the following overall process:

  1. Use the /doc compiler option to generate an XML documentation file.
  2. Run the assemblies through Sandcastle (MRefBuilder, XslTransform, and BuildAssembler) to produce a set of HTML files.
  3. Use the Microsoft HTML Help Compiler. The help compiler version 1.0 is used to produce CHM files and version 2.0 is used to generate HXS files.


Recent Posts


  • Brenton,
    We are looking at Innovasys Help Studio Lite as an option for GUI. I will provide more information as it's available.

    How do you wnvision building MSBuild tasks? Please feel free to email me directly and my address is aramATmicrosoftDOTcom. Cheers.


  • I've been using alpha builds of NDoc2 and I've found it to work well enough for me.

    The big issue with this Innovasys Help Studio Lite (which I had to install to install to get NDoc2 to work) is that it keeps trying to install crap on my machine when I start up certain applications (i.e. CD Burner XP Pro freeware)'s mind boggling and annoying as hell.

  • I have used the NDoc2 alphas for quite a while, but I never had to install Help Studio Lite in order to use them. What message did you get when you tried to use NDoc2 without Help Studio Lite?

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