Ang3lFir3 – Life as a Code Poet

August 1, 2006

Sandcastles aren’t just for kiddies anymore!!

Saturday Microsoft released the first CTP of Sandcastle…. and it works!!! So what is sandcastle? Well its a Documentation generation tool that uses reflection and XML comments to create awesome looking CHM documentation you can be proud to distribute with your assemblies.

After a few minutes with a little help from Ashley van Gerven’s Batch File OR Scott Hanselman’s powershell script you can be up and running since the instructions @ http://blogs.msdn.com/sandcastle/archive/2006/07/29/682398.aspx are just crazy. The Sandcastle team does mention on several occations that:

“For this CTP release our focus was on scalability and performance.”

Which is just fine by me (I totally approve actually, good work boys I prefer tools that work well and fast to “pretty” tools)…. Using Ashley van Gerven’s batch script I was producing beautiful MSDN style CHM’s for my assemblies that can easily be integrated into the build process in literally minutes. Even Continuous Integration builds. How cool is that!!!!

I found this entry in the FAQ to be probably one of the most instrumental reasons for me to truely consider integrating Sandcastle into my build cycle.

Is Sandcastle used by Microsoft for their API documentation?
Yes. This CTP version has a new architecture and has reduced the .Net Framework build time from 10 plus hours during VS 2005 ship cycle to 30 minutes. For the current CTP release the focus was on scalability and performance.

Have some fun and give Sandcastle a try even if you are already using similar tools like NDoc I still suggest trying it out…. if not for the meer pleasure of seeing it at work.

Download the CTP  here

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