Creating and Using Context Sensitive Help

VBdocman can automatically generate help context ID numbers to all documented members so that they could be assigned to help topics. This feature is extremely useful in team work in conjunction with Source Safe and absolutely necessary for ActiveX controls developers. When distributing ActiveX controls, all public methods and properties have to be documented very well for end user. With VBdocman it is a matter of a couple of seconds.

Creating context sensitive documentation

All you have to do is to check one or two check-boxes in options dialog (see Compile Options) and select the output format that supports context sensitive help (CHM or HLP). Topics in generated documentation will be automatically assigned to their members in source code. Getting help on some member is very simple.

Quick help in Properties window and Object Browser

In addition, VBdocman automatically inserts description into member's Description attribute so that it appears in Properties window and object browser. Description attribute is hidden in source code and cannot be seen in VB IDE. You can access it from menu Tools -> Procedure Attributes... or you can see it if you open VB source file in Notepad. Information in this attribute is compiled into resulting dll. So if you create your ActiveX control in this way and use it in other VB project, you can see that description in Properties window and in Object Browser as well - exactly as built-in VB controls behave.

Invoking help from IDE

To get help on members in current project open Object Browser, select the desired member (method, property, ...). Short description is shown on the bottom. If you press F1, the appropriate complete topic will be shown.

To get help on member in ActiveX control which was documented with VBdocman and is used in current project, just go with cursor over some occurrence of that member (e.g. method call) and press F1. The appropriate topic will be shown. It works in the same way as standard VB help. If you use CHM format, you hardly see the difference. Moreover, short description in the Properties window is shown as well. This is the way, you should distribute your controls.

Note: When VBdocman creates context-sensitive documentation, it writes its absolute path to the Help File Name property accessible from Project -> Project Properties... menu.VB IDE looks for context-sensitive documentation in that path. However, if you plan to distribute your ActiveX controls, you cannot use absolute path because it doesn't exist on end user's computer.

You must set Help File Name property in Project -> Project Properties... menu to file name only manually before deploying your ActiveX control. For example from "d:\MyProject\Vbdoc\myproject.chm" to "myproject.chm". VB IDE looks for context-sensitive documentation in current folder first, then in well-known system folders. It doesn't look in the folder where your ActiveX control is installed! Therefore you must place your documentation file in some folder where it can be found by system. It is good if you place it into "Help" folder in your windows folder during installation (e.g. c:\Winnt\Help).


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