Integrating Help into the IDE
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Integrating Help into the IDE

Visual Studio 2008

You can add your own Help content to the Visual Studio Tools for Applications integrated development environment (IDE) to provide the specific information that users must have to create their own add-ins for your application.

There is no merge module from Microsoft for the Visual Studio Tools for Applications IDE documentation. Therefore, you cannot use the Help Integration wizard. Instead, you can use the Microsoft Help 2.x compiler together with the free Innovasys HelpStudio Lite authoring tool to create your Help collection, and register it in the Visual Studio Tools for Applications IDE. To obtain the Microsoft Help 2.x compiler, download and install the Visual Studio 2008 SDK.

When you build your Help collection, add it to the Microsoft Visual Studio Tools for Applications 2.0 container collection, MS.VSTACC.v20. For each .hxs file, create and run a script for the Innovasys registry tool, InnovaHxReg.exe, to register the namespace of your Help collection and Help file. Doing this registers the namespace and topics of your Help collection in the VSTACC namespace. For more information about HelpStudio Lite and deployment, see Deploying the Help System in the HelpStudio documentation.

For information about how to create Help files and incorporate them into the IDE, see Help Authoring and Integration in the Visual Studio SDK documentation in the MSDN Online Library. If you have installed the Visual Studio SDK documentation, you can access the topic there, at Help Authoring and Integration.

Creating a Merge Module

As an alternative, you can create a merge module and add your Help collection to the VSTACC container collection to install it. When you create a merge module for a HelpPlugin namespace, the File_HxA and File_ParentHxT fields can remain empty. For more information about how to create a merge module, see Walkthrough: Registering and Integrating a Help Collection By Using Windows Installer.

Merging with the Combined Help Collection Manager

If you want users of your application to merge your Help collection into the Visual Studio Tools for Applications documentation, the add-in developers can use the Visual Studio Tools for Applications Combined Help Collection Manager. A list of available help collections appears, and the add-in developers can click Update Help Collection to begin the merge.

The Visual Studio Tools for Applications Help topics contain the attribute DocSet=VSTASDK. If you want to create a filter that includes your documentation and also the Visual Studio Tools for Applications general documentation, define your filter to include DocSet=YourFilterAttribute OR DocSet=VSTASDK. For more information, see How to: Create and Register Help Filters.

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