ASP.NET Hosting

Sandcastle alpha available, NDoc discontinued

Microsoft has released an alpha version of its technical reference documentation tool: Sandcastle.
Sandcastle is presented as a "documentation compiler for managed class libraries". The alpha is available for download.

The following features are advertised:

  • Works with or without authored comments
  • Supports generics and .NET 2.0
  • Two main components (MrefBuilder and Build Assembler)
    • MrefBuilder generates reflection xml file for Build Assembler
    • Build Assembler includes syntax generation, transformation, etc.
  • Used internally to build .NET Framework documentation 

Did you notice that the home page for this tool is a weblog? Not the best way in the world to share information about a product! A blog is useful for announcing new content, but a dedicated home page with the information  nicely organized would be much better. Of course, this is the first alpha version of the tool, so I guess it will get better with the beta or further version.

Even though Sandcastle is available only as an early version for the moment, it comes out in time as a replacement for NDoc. You should still probably consider NDoc for your .NET 1 documentation, as it's really a nice tool. There is no real support for .NET 2 from NDoc though, and its development has been stopped by its author.
Indeed, I've received a mail from Kevin Downs, in which he explains that he won't continue working on NDoc. The reasons he gives make sense: a lot of time invested, with no support from the users, no help for the development, unjustified and undue expectations from the users, and even threats from some jerk!
It's too bad to see what happens to such a useful project. I guess it's common for hobby projects like this one. Having worked for big companies, I can testify that they use open source products extensively, but wouldn't do the slightest thing to contribute to the projects or help them in any way. They just expect the free tools to work perfectly, just like they had paid big money for them!
I haven't done anything for the project myself, expect letting people know about it, so I guess I'm guilty too...

Working on open source projects is really ungrateful it seems. You need to be really motivated, know why you're doing it, and learn to ignore some too demanding users.

No Comments