Project Status Update #1

Jan 31, 2012 at 9:09 PM

Hello Everyone.

In case you don't know who I am, my name is Eric Woodruff and I'm currently the coordinator of the Sandcastle Help File Builder and Sandcastle Styles projects here on CodePlex.  In the past couple of weeks I've been getting more and more inquiries about fixing bugs in the Sandcastle tools, specifically the executables such as MRefBuilder.exe, that aren't fixed by the Sandcastle Styles patch.  In the past, I've avoided patching the executables as I didn't want to have to distribute a separate set of executables signed with a different key that wouldn't be compatible with the official tools or third-party components or front ends built against them, mine included.  As such, my standard response has been to report the bugs here in the hope that they would be fixed in the next release of Sandcastle.  However, as is quite obvious, that's been a lost cause so there's not much point in asking people to keep on doing it unless something changes.

Forking a new, completely separate version was an option but I'd much rather see this project stay the official source so that we don't end up with multiple competing versions with no clear direction and the same lack of support that killed NDoc.  With that in mind, about a week ago I started making inquiries about the status of the Sandcastle project on CodePlex and asked if it would be possible to be made a coordinator on this project so that it doesn't die.  I'm happy to report that work is progressing on making that happen but, since the project is owned by Microsoft, there are a number of approvals that must occur first before I can be added to it so I'm just waiting for things to take their course.

I wasn't planning on saying anything until it was official but given the inquiries about fixing the problems, I'm posting this now so that if I ask you to report the bug here, you have the assurance that it won't be ignored.   In the meantime, I am working on fixing the existing known bugs in the executables so that when I am able to do so, I can publish a long awaited update to the Sandcastle tools that includes those fixes plus the ones from the Sandcastle Styles patch.  I will post more information as it becomes available and we can address future updates and additions to Sandcastle once things have been finalized.  Thank you.



Feb 2, 2012 at 1:30 PM

Looking forward to some active development on the Sandcastle project again. Hope you get the required approval.

Feb 2, 2012 at 1:51 PM
Edited Feb 2, 2012 at 2:02 PM

Thanks for the information. About a year and half ago I proposed to fork this project
and get real work done. I believe it is time, since MS is no longer ready to cut it.

Best regards,

Feb 2, 2012 at 8:54 PM

It should take about three or four weeks for approval.  In the meantime, I'm working on the fixes and getting everything ready.



Mar 21, 2012 at 10:15 PM

This is a great news!

Mar 22, 2012 at 3:51 AM

I'm still waiting for approval to take over this project site. I'm trying to find out what's going on with that. Worst case, I may end up temorarily hosting the updated release on the Sandcastle Styles project site until things are squared away one way or the other. My intent is to keep it a separate project so that it isn't dependent upon or tied to the release cycle of any particular front end such as SHFB and it can be used standalone or with the front end tools of your choice as in the past.

As it stands right now, I've fixed all of the known bugs but one including those in the executables as well as adding a few other requested features like support for optional parameters, the "fixed" keyword, and showing numeric attribute values, etc. The one I couldn't fix is related to certain interop attributes not showing up and that appears to be because the information just isn't there in the expected place (the member's attributes collection).

Also, Don Fehr has been working independently on creating a VS2010 presentation style. He sent me a copy yesterday and I haven't had a chance to play with it yet, but with luck I hope to get it in the initial release too. I need to create an installer project since one isn't included in the source and, once that's done, I should be ready to go. It'll probably be another week or two before I'm ready to publish it.



Mar 27, 2012 at 11:07 PM

I am hoping to get the permissions for Eric approved this week so that he can post his updates. Thanks Eric.


Mar 27, 2012 at 11:33 PM

Eric is now an editor for Sandcastle project. He should be able to contribute :)


Apr 16, 2012 at 3:39 AM
Edited Apr 16, 2012 at 5:07 AM

Unfortunately, being an editor only gives me the ability to edit the wiki content.  To create and manage releases, I need at least developer access.  Since I am ready to issue the update and Anand seems to be unavailable at the moment, I am going with my back up plan and will temporarily publish the release on the Sandcastle Styles project site.  Once the access issue is resolved, I can move everything back into this project and retire Sandcastle Styles.

See the Sandcastle Release Notes for details on all of the changes.



Apr 16, 2012 at 8:52 AM

Thank you so much for taking care of this project, Eric.  So Microsoft has no intention of ever again updating their own official .NET help compiler, and they can't even be bothered to inform us or transition the project to someone else?  Well, that certainly clarifies the company's attitude on both developer relations and the future of .NET technologies.

Apr 17, 2012 at 12:25 PM

Hello Anand,

Please can you state clearly the state and direction of the Sandcastle project?

I do not like the direction this new release is going, and some of the things being
thrown in. 

Best regards,

Apr 17, 2012 at 2:31 PM

Yes, we all would like to hear about a statement from Microsoft about their support for the Sandcastle project. And at the current state of involvement from Microsoft in this project I think that the best thing to do would be to give the project to the community.

Or perhaps community should make a new Sandcatle2 fork here on Codeplex and begin developing a new version, because this project looks completely dead right now.

Best regards,


Apr 17, 2012 at 9:10 PM

Hi Jozef,

As I stated in my first post in this thread, forking a new, completely separate version is an option but I'd much rather see this project stay the official source for the reasons stated therein.  That's why I'm working with Anand to open it up and I know he is willing to do that.  I think he made an honest mistake in only giving me editor privileges so I'm willing to wait and see how that gets resolved.

My main reason for releasing now on the Sandcastle Styles site rather than waiting is that I know Anand has been away a lot lately and that it may take a while to get access here.  The bug fixes and additions are the same ones I've been making for years so there's nothing really new there with the exception of the tool bug fixes.  I had several people waiting on the tool fixes as they were being affected by crash issues in MRefBuilder.  Don had progressed as far as he could in testing the new VS2010 style so it was time to put it out there and let real users start working with it to find any issues so that they could be resolved.

I fully intend to continue work on the Sandcastle tools with community help be it here or over in a repurposed Sandcastle Styles site.  Consider this new release a potential fork.  Sandcastle isn't dead yet and I think forking yet another copy is premature.



Apr 17, 2012 at 9:32 PM

Thanks Eric. I was away travelling out of the country. I have reached ut to the Codeplex team about Eric's permission. I am hoping to have an answer soon. I do not control the project perms


Apr 17, 2012 at 9:35 PM

I saw this page and will ahve to follow the steps to get Eric added as Coordinator/Developer.



Apr 17, 2012 at 9:49 PM

Hello Anand,

You still have not provided the information we are humbling asking. What is the state of the project
and Microsoft's direction on it?

Best regards,

Apr 17, 2012 at 9:55 PM

Sorry about this Paul. I will check with Darren Parker from Microsoft to see if he is planning any new releases and will ask him to comment here..


Jul 6, 2012 at 8:55 AM

Hey Anand -

Is there any update from Darren? Eric is still only an Editor and can't publish releases.

Jul 20, 2012 at 6:27 PM

You guys at Microsoft need to give it up.  Eric is the most helpful person out here.  I would contibute if I knew my time/effort would go somewhere.

Jul 27, 2012 at 1:29 PM


Thanks so much for your commitment to this project and your efforts to keep it harmonious and simpler for the community by avoiding a fork.

Anand/Microsoft: please do the responsible thing and make this handover happen. You've left us in the lurch. An explanation is not only appreciated - it is required.


Aug 6, 2012 at 12:52 PM

It would also be appreciated if which of the source trees in the latest source file download was to be used. The file contains two source trees, neither of which readily compile in VS2010.

I have been investigating MREFBUILDER with a view to making it tolerant of missing DLL's. Please see

Aug 6, 2012 at 4:09 PM

As indicated in this thread, I'm still trying to take ownership of this project.  Until I get more than editor privileges, I can't maintain the source tree here.  Until that time, the source code for my updated release ( can be downloaded from the Sandcastle Styles site:  The code from that download will build under VS 2010.



Aug 13, 2012 at 4:03 PM

Thank you Eric, for making VS2010 compatible source available. It was very useful in allowing me to fix a issue with MRefBuilder that I reported at

Jan 3, 2013 at 11:03 PM


I'm unable to find the download and install of the special patch that fixes many revealed problems after the release of sandcastle (Version 2.6.1062.1). It is called "Sandcastle Styles", and its home page is The patch for the abovementioned version of Sandcastle was said to be placed on the following page:

However I am unable to find it, could you please tell me how I can get it. 

I downloaded the sandcastle (Version 2.6.1062.1) today but I don't know if it includes fixes from the special patch.  Can you help, thanks!


Jan 4, 2013 at 12:03 AM

As noted on the home page for this project, Microsoft has ceased development of Sandcastle and all future development has been moved to the Sandcastle Help File Builder project.  I'd suggest downloading the lasted release of SHFB as it contains the most recent version of Sandcastle with all the patches and several additional fixes.  It can still be used in a standalone fashion if you choose to do so.  There's a new Sandcastle Tools help file included with a version history that shows all changes made since the last Microsoft release..  You can download it from:  If you do need the patches from the old Sandcastle Styles site, you can find them in the Legacy Downloads release at the SHFB project site: