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Creating a Help Collection Using the Help Integration Wizard Beta

Visual Studio .NET 2003

Microsoft Corporation

Revised April 2004

Summary: This article demonstrates how to use the Help Integration Wizard Beta to create a Help collection that integrates with Visual Studio .NET 2003. (2 printed pages)


An exceptional feature of Help in Visual Studio® .NET is its extensibility. A Help collection that is integrated with Visual Studio .NET gives developers ready access to documentation through the IDE's Contents, Index, Search, and Dynamic Help windows. However, integrating Help presents challenges. Although Microsoft provides all the tools necessary to create the compiled Help (HxS) files that make up a Help collection, it has not yet provided a tool that can assemble those HxS files into a Help collection or that creates a Windows Installer project for the Help collection's distribution. The Help Integration Wizard Beta is the preliminary release of a tool that fills this void. The following walkthrough demonstrates some of the capabilities of this tool by creating a Help collection from an existing HxS file, generating a setup project for the Help collection, and then integrating the Help collection with Visual Studio .NET.


Before you start, you must have the following software installed on your computer:

Creating the Help Collection

Follow the steps below to create a Help collection in Visual Studio 2003.

  1. In Visual Studio, click the File command, point to New, and click Project to display the New Project dialog box.
  2. In the Project Types pane, expand the Other Projects folder, and click Extensibility Projects.
  3. In the Templates pane, click Help Integration Wizard, type TestCollection in the Name box, and click OK.

    The Help Integration Wizard appears.

  4. On the Choose Project Settings page, select Stand-alone Setup Project, select Visual Studio 2003 from the Target dropdown list, and click Next.
  5. On the Select Collection Files page, click Add to display the Add Help Files dialog box. Browse to the \Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\Help\1033 folder, click dexplore.hxs, and click Open.

    The wizard adds dexplore.hxs to the Source Files list.

  6. Click Next to the display the Build The TOC page.
  7. In the Plugin Style group box, select Flat.

    The top-level node disappears from the Help Collection TOC tree view.

  8. Click the Insert Node button on the toolbar.

    A blue node, titled New Node, appears in the Help Collection TOC pane.

  9. Select dexplore in the Exclude From TOC pane and click Include.

    The top node of the dexplore.hxs table of contents, titled Help on Help, is added below the node titled New Node.

  10. Select the Help on Help node and click the Move Node Right button on the toolbar.

    The Help on Help node becomes a child of the New Node node.

  11. Select the New Node node and click the Properties button on the toolbar.

    The Node Properties dialog box appears.

  12. Expand the dexplore node and select /about/about_dexplore.htm.

    The HTML title of about_dexplore.htm, About Microsoft Document Explorer, appears in the Title box.

  13. Click OK.

    The top node in the Help Collection TOC tree view now has the title, About Microsoft Document Explorer.

  14. Click the Next button to display the Set Collection Properties page.
  15. In the Namespace box, type ms.test_collection.en and click Finish.

    The wizard generates a Windows Installer setup project for the Help collection.

  16. Build the TestCollection setup project.

Integrating the TestCollection Help Collection

Follow the steps below to Integrate the Help Collection with Visual Studio .NET 2003.

  1. Close all instances of Visual Studio .NET 2003.
  2. Right-click the TestCollection.msi file created in the previous procedure, and click Install on the shortcut menu.
  3. Follow the instructions in the Setup Wizard.
  4. After TestCollection is installed, restart Visual Studio .NET 2003, click the Help menu, and then click the Contents command to display the Contents window.

    Observe that the top node of the TestCollection Help collection, About Microsoft Document Explorer, appears in the Contents window.