PackageThis RRS feed

  • General discussion

  • Juan was asking about PackageThis.exe (MSDN help package creator / MSDN downloader).

    I'm just looking at the PackageThis code at the moment.

    Problems I am working on...

    Every topic has a topic version meta tag

    <!-- meta name="Microsoft.Help.TopicVersion" content="40" /-->

    but the MS Help Viewers (both VS 10 and VS 11) check this tag and if parent and child have different version then the child often does not get into the TOC. So the topic is included but not visible in the TOC. I'm thinking of forcing this tag so that content is included correctly.


    Can you outline your problems with PackageThis?

    The online repository for MSDN is not easy to work with but I think we are slowly making progress.


    Rob Chandler Help MVP www.helpware.net | mshcmigrate.helpmvp.com | hv2.helpmvp.com

    Tuesday, September 25, 2012 7:52 PM

All replies

  • Thanks Rob
    for your response, well the problems I had (besides the one you mention of not
    having the TOC updated) is exceptions, I tried to download the whole web dev
    content and after being downloading for a long long time it throw me an
    exception and close, when it closes every downloaded content is lost. You could
    try to download the same content to see if the same happens to you.<o:p></o:p>

    I'm sure
    that many people (including myself) well be very happy if you could fix the
    program. <o:p></o:p>

    I've been
    able to download small portions of the msdn documentation and been able to use
    it even with the TOC problem, but the exceptions are a problem that makes the
    program unusable in some scenarios.<o:p></o:p>

    Thank you
    very much for retaking the project.<o:p></o:p>

    Juan Carlos

    Tuesday, September 25, 2012 9:23 PM
  • Thanks Juan

    I'll try and build-in recovery. That way if it fails we can reopen and get an idea of what topics are causing the problems.


    Rob Chandler Help MVP www.helpware.net | mshcmigrate.helpmvp.com | hv2.helpmvp.com

    Wednesday, September 26, 2012 1:17 PM
  • That would be great Rob.

    Thank you very much.

    Jua Carlos

    Wednesday, September 26, 2012 3:10 PM
  • FYI -- I've uploaded PackageThis 1.3.7

    It's now VS 2012 compatible. Did a lot of work on refining the process.

    Tutorial: http://packagethis.codeplex.com/wikipage?title=PackageThis%20Tutorial

    I couldn't crash it. Last night I downloaded the first 45,000 topics from the MSDN "Web Development" section. Downloading more than 10,000 (Microsoft recommend this as a good upper limit) is probably why user see crashes. Best to package small chunks (see tutorial).

    To that end I've added a new TreeView context menu command "Expand This Node and All Children" (Builds the TOC without downloading). So you can get a file count of a section and decide how to break the section up.

    Caching and Recovery is currently tricky because of the way the code is organized. Another day.

    I've added a debug tab that should catch any exceptions. However I think if you stay under 10,000 file packages it should be solid.

    All .mshc topics are now marked as <!-- meta name="Microsoft.Help.TopicVersion" content="999" /--> By making all topics with the same TopicVersion, the Microsoft Viewer is more reliable in showing all the content in the TOC (MS Viewer has rules about what it allows in the TOC).


    Download 1.3.7 EXE: 

    Download 1.3.7 Scr + Exe

    Rob Chandler Help MVP www.helpware.net | mshcmigrate.helpmvp.com | hv2.helpmvp.com

    Sunday, September 30, 2012 5:33 PM
  • Thanks a lot, I'm downloading and as soon as I get the chance I'll try it.

    Juan Carlos Galvez

    Monday, October 1, 2012 12:34 PM
  • Just uploaded PackageThis 1.3.9

    This one has a simple Scheduler. So you can kick off a download at a certain time. And stop the download at a certain time or certain download count.


    Rob Chandler Help MVP www.helpware.net | mshcmigrate.helpmvp.com | hv2.helpmvp.com

    Friday, October 5, 2012 1:56 AM
  • Just downloading ver 1.3.10, thanks for the great job.
    Tuesday, October 9, 2012 4:17 PM
  • Thanks. My main strength is usability. So it's getting more obvious of what to do. But I'm aware that work needs to be done to download on a proper background thread.

    I think also high on the ToDo list is Caching and the ability to notify when your packages need renewing.

    Rob Chandler Help MVP www.helpware.net | mshcmigrate.helpmvp.com | hv2.helpmvp.com

    Wednesday, October 10, 2012 12:23 AM
  • Hi Rob,

    I finally had the oportunity to try version 1.3.10 last weekend, sadly it seems there was a power outage on saturday night and all downloads were lost. So could you add a "recover from cache" feature?. If I go to temp\PackageThis\raw I see all files there.

    Thank you,

    Juan Carlos Galvez

    Monday, November 12, 2012 1:29 PM
  • Hi Rob,good tool.

    I want to package these articles:


    But I can't find this node in the left panel of PackageThis......

    • Edited by aze Tuesday, November 13, 2012 7:19 AM
    Tuesday, November 13, 2012 7:15 AM
  • Yeah I had a search through the main MSDN library but could not find this topic. Strange that it's outside the MSDN library.

    Maybe go to http://connect.microsoft.com/VisualStudio/ and submit a bug report "Offline Help" "I need this xxx as offline help but can't find it in MSDN Library to download it with PackageThis".

    Note that PackageThis was started by the VS Help team and they read everything that is submitted via Connect that is help related (although they get very busy sometimes). If enough people complain about a section they will actually make the section available as an Offline Help download.

    Also if you want to chat to the guys in the Help team directly you can email them  hlpfdbk@microsoft.com


    Rob Chandler Help MVP www.helpware.net | mshcmigrate.helpmvp.com | hv2.helpmvp.com

    Tuesday, November 13, 2012 10:21 AM
  • ... and as long as people's emails are polite, they are very happy to talk to us on that email ;-)

    Rob Chandler Help MVP www.helpware.net | mshcmigrate.helpmvp.com | hv2.helpmvp.com

    Tuesday, November 13, 2012 10:22 AM
  • Hi Rob,

    Could you implement something like a "recover from cache" or "resume" feature in such a way we can close the program and open it again and continue with out having to start the download again?

    Thank you.

    Juan Carlos

    Thursday, November 15, 2012 8:58 PM
  • It's on the ToDo list :-)

    Rob Chandler Help MVP www.helpware.net | mshcmigrate.helpmvp.com | hv2.helpmvp.com

    Thursday, November 15, 2012 11:54 PM
  • That's great!!!!

    Well this is probably not the right place to ask for features but I'll do it again:

    Could you add a kind of "automatic naming" feature or ask for the name of the topic and file at the beginning so the program could download and save the help files without the user having to enter parameters at the beginning and then again at the end... I'm not sure if I'm being clear here, my English is not very good... sorry for that.

    Thanks again for helping us,

    Juan Carlos

    • Edited by jcgalveza Friday, November 16, 2012 7:34 PM
    Friday, November 16, 2012 1:35 PM
  • OK I get it. I'll keep it in mind. Thanks

    Rob Chandler Help MVP www.helpware.net | mshcmigrate.helpmvp.com | hv2.helpmvp.com

    Sunday, November 18, 2012 12:43 PM
  • Hi Rob, yesterday night I was finally able to download part of the help content and I want you to know it worked perfectly, no exceptions. Now I have the complete docs for entity framework.

    I would like to share that content with the community (the file is only 620KB) but I will ask your advice on this, I'm not sure if I can just upload the content or I need permission from Microsoft to do that since the content is their property.

    Thank you very much for such a great app.

    Juan Carlos Gálvez

    Saturday, November 24, 2012 2:23 PM
  • I can't tell you. I would think it that MS own the documentation and we don't have rights to distribute it on a public web site.

    You could certainly document how you did it.

    Rob Chandler Help MVP www.helpware.net | mshcmigrate.helpmvp.com | hv2.helpmvp.com

    Sunday, November 25, 2012 7:18 AM
  • Ok, thank you.

    I've already downloaded RIA services docs and also MVC4, both on the same day, I could be wrong but I think that the program is faster now than it was the first time that I use it.

    About the last request I made, the "automatic naming/ ask for parameters at the beginning" well it could be also great if you could make the program download and create the files all in just one step, currently you select the topic you want to download and start the download, then, when the download is finished you need to go to the file menu and select the format you want the files to be exported on then the program go online again and then you have your files saved. That sequence prevents, for example, to make the program download the docs during the night and have all done the next morning.

    Thank you very much Rob for the time and effort you are putting on this program.

    Juan Carlos

    • Edited by jcgalveza Monday, November 26, 2012 1:35 PM
    Monday, November 26, 2012 1:32 PM
  • Thanks for the comments. I agree.

    Rob Chandler Help MVP www.helpware.net | mshcmigrate.helpmvp.com | hv2.helpmvp.com

    Monday, November 26, 2012 11:29 PM
  • Hi Rob, I continued downloading, this time I downloaded ASP.NET 4.5, Web Api and ASP SPA and now when I try to import into VS2012 I'm getting an error (see the attached pic)

    Any ideas?


    Juan Carlos Galvez

    Tuesday, November 27, 2012 5:23 PM
  • Was there any info in the debug tab?

    What I really need is the name of the MSDN web page that is tripping up the software



    Rob Chandler Help MVP www.helpware.net | mshcmigrate.helpmvp.com | hv2.helpmvp.com

    Wednesday, November 28, 2012 1:16 AM
  • Hi Rob, well, PackageThis is no having any exception or problem, the problem you see in the picture is when I try to add the generated files into VisualStudio 2012 help system.

    Tell me if sending you the files could be of any help.

    Thank you,

    Juan Carlos

    Thursday, November 29, 2012 3:54 PM
  • Hi Juan

    Oh I see... Can you please send me that file if you can? Or the MSDN URL of that file.

    send to  support @ helpware dotnet

    The MS Help Viewer engine is fussy and does not like ill formed XML/HTML or some non XML syntax.

    Interesting to find this error. Any info you can send me will be a great help.

    Meanwhile this kind of error is easy to fix.

    1. rename the .mshc help file to .zip and unzip it

    2. find the file '9z74w20y.htm' and try and correct the syntax at Line 4 Pos 7.

    3. Rezip, rename to .mshc and try and add to the Help system again. Do this my pasting in the path to the corresponding .msha file into the VS 2012 Help Management page

    Maybe you should email me directly while we figure this out.



    Rob Chandler Help MVP www.helpware.net | mshcmigrate.helpmvp.com | hv2.helpmvp.com

    Friday, November 30, 2012 6:34 AM
  • Hi Rob, already sent you the file, please let me know if you have it ok.

    Juan Carlos

    Monday, December 3, 2012 4:41 PM