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Sandcastle XML Comments Guide


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This is a tool supplied with Sandcastle that is used to build the help topics for conceptual and reference builds. It is passed a configuration file containing a list of build components to use in transforming the topics into HTML and a manifest file that lists the topics to build.

See Also:  Sandcastle


Code Block Component

A custom build component that can be used to colorize code, add line numbering and/or collapsible section, and import code from working source code files. It can be used in both conceptual and reference builds. The component is integrated with the Sandcastle Help File Builder and is also available as a standalone component from the same project site for use in other tools or your own build scripts.

conceptual build

A build that uses Sandcastle to produce help file topics using information extracted from conceptual content topics and their related files.

conceptual content

A topic file that contains conceptual content. These can be used to add usage notes, walkthroughs, tutorials, etc. to a help file. Conceptual topics use MAML rather than HTML to define their content.

See Also:  MAML


Globally Unique Identifier, GUID

A unique value that is associated with each conceptual topic and image in a project. When inserting links to topics or images, the ID is used to refer to them. This allows you to alter the names or locations of the topic files without having to change the name or location in each topic that references them.



An acronym that stands for Microsoft Assistance Markup Language. Conceptual content topics are composed of MAML elements.

See Also:  conceptual content


reference build

A build that uses Sandcastle to produce help file topics using information extracted from managed assemblies and their associated XML comments files.



Sandcastle is a set of tools originally produced by Microsoft that can be used to build help files for .NET managed libraries, conceptual content, or a mix of both. Microsoft officially discontinued development in October 2012. The Sandcastle tools have been merged with the Sandcastle Help File Builder project and are developed and supported there now as part of that project.

Sandcastle Help File Builder, SHFB

The Sandcastle Help File Builder is a standalone tool used to automate Sandcastle. It consists of a GUI front end that helps you manage and build help file projects. It uses a standard MSBuild format project file which can also be built from the command line using MSBuild or integrated into Visual Studio builds or other build scripts to produce a help file when your application projects are built. In addition, it provides a set of additional features beyond those supplied with Sandcastle that can improve your help file and make it easier to deploy. A Visual Studio integration package is also available for it that integrates the project management and build features into Visual Studio 2017 or later.

See Also:  Sandcastle


token, token file

A token is used as a replaceable tag within a topic and is represented using a token element. The inner text of the element is a token name. The tokens are defined in a separate token file. They are an easy way to represent common items that you use regularly such as a common phrase or external link.