I need to write a help file for a WinForms app in Visual Studio 2010. Ideally, I'd like to use a tool that integrates with Visual Studio, rather than a totally separate tool.

In the past I've used HTML Help Workshop, but this is ancient, and I recall it was a little funky to use. I also know there was a tool built into the Visual Studio 2005 SDK, but I need something for 2010.


Probably doesn't integrate with VS2010 but I remember using RoboHelp back around '97 and it was ok:ish then so if I needed to write helpfiles now I'd probably give that another look since it seems like it's still around here. Fairly expensive though it seems but if you've got some Adobe licenses (which isn't totally unsual for a development shop) for some other reason maybe you've already got this?

+3  A: 

I remember that a year or so ago some people on Joel's The Business of Software forum were recommending HelpNDoc.

+6  A: 

Here are your options...

If you want Microsoft's documentation generator with VS integration:

Although, it appears that DocProject doesn't quite support VS2010 yet.

For the Non-MS solution there's GhostDoc, which does support VS 2010 integration and appears to be a better solution.

For options that don't integrate into Visual Studio:

Evan Plaice
Sandcastle may be good for documenting APIs, but not for documenting applications GUIs; don't you agree?
@ChrisW No application that generates documentation from comments extracted directly from the source does, because WinForms/WPF applications typically don't include comments in the auto-generated Designer/XAML files. I assumed that, since the question is geared toward auto generating docs, the OP is looking to create a 'Software Users Manual' and not a general 'Users Manual'.
Evan Plaice
@ChrisW nice close-ended suggestive question though.
Evan Plaice
+1  A: 

it is an awkward target for tool vendors. In most shops, the help is authored by professional writers that don't have any use for Visual Studio in their day-to-day activities. Third party authoring tools like RoboHelp is their preferred weapon of choice.

The VS2005 SDK tool you probably saw was HelpStudio Lite, a product of Innovasys. There is no version available that integrates with VS2010 and judging from a forum post they have no intention of releasing one. Their Document X! product however does, sounds like what you ought to take a look at. The eval version is available for download from here.

Hans Passant

As others have said, you can convert the triple slash XML MSDN-style help using Sandcastle on all class-level members and objects

/// <summary>
/// I am a method help Header
/// </summary>
/// <param name="parm1">info for param 1</param>
/// <param name="parm2">info for parm2</param>
/// <remarks>Some Extra Info</remarks>
public override void MeMethod(SourceElement rootElm, Subject subject){

Here is the link to Sandscastle

A more feature-rich help generator that integrates with Visual Studio 2010 and generates multiple help formats is VSDocMan . It includes a WYSIWYG comment editor, and actually comments some of your code for you. Extremely useful


Html Help, is replaced by Html Help 2.


Just been doing a lot of research and after testing various tools the is the fastest way to put together a help system.