Sandcastle, First glance
I managed to find some time to try the Sandcastle CTP on the CommandBuilder component I blogged about recently. Here are the observations I've made so far:
At the moment, it is all command-line based. So you need to know which application you need to run, what the arguments are and in which order you need to issue them. This is not that easy, but with the help of the information on the Sandcastle blog, you should be able to get it to work. You could also use the batch file created by Mikael Söderström. This works even better and it saves you from having to re-type all the commands. I also advise you to keep an eye on Mikael's blog, because he is building a GUI application to control all this. I had similar plans, but I think I'll just wait for Mikael to finish his. The completed CHM file can be downloaded here.
I was waiting for Sandcastle, so that I could build a help file for my provate set of class libraries. But looking at the way I can now use Sandcastle, I really think I need an NDoc like application with which I can control the entire process. Best thing would be to have an application with which you can define a project which contains the locations of all the assemblies and generated XML files (like NDoc) and which would then allow you to generate the help file.
Another feature of such an application would have to be an option to create batch files, NANT, MSBuild or CruiseControl projects. That would make it easier to integrate Sandcastle into your automated build proces. The way Sandcastle currently operates, it is a lot of work to get it set up for your project. But once it is set up, it works. The help files that it generates also look good, so I'm happy with the results so far. And this is of course the first CTP. There are plans to release more CTPs before the product reaches Sandcastle 1.0 RTW.
There are some others that have tried Sandcastle as well. If you're interested in what they have to say, then check out these blogs: