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PowerShell Help Builder

Helps.ps1 provides functions for building PowerShell XML help files from help scripts and for creating help script templates for existing objects. Help can be created for everything that supports XML help: cmdlets, providers, scripts, and functions in scripts or modules.

Help scripts are almost WYSIWYG, they look very similar to the result help. Still, they are PowerShell scripts and this makes a lot of useful features easy. One of them is building localized help files.

Quick Start

Step 1: Helps is distributed as the NuGet package Helps. Download it to the current location as the directory "Helps" by this PowerShell command:

Invoke-Expression (New-Object Net.WebClient).DownloadString('')

Alternatively, download it by NuGet tools or directly. In the latter case rename the package to ".zip" and unzip. Use the package subdirectory "tools".

Copy Helps.ps1 and one of its help files Helps-Help.xml to a directory included in the system path. Then the script can be dot-sourced from the command line or scripts just by name:

. Helps.ps1

Alternatively, Helps.ps1 and Helps-Help.xml can be located anywhere, say, in C:/Scripts/Helps. Then the script should be dot-sourced using its path:

. C:/Scripts/Helps/Helps.ps1

Step 2: Choose the command, for example My-Command cmdlet from MyModule, and make the command available, that is import the module. If My-Command is a script function then dot-source the script.

Import-Module MyModule

Step 3: Dot-source the script Helps.ps1. This command loads its utility functions into the current scope, the global scope if it is called from the command line:

. Helps.ps1

Step 4: Create and save the template help script of My-Command, open the script in an editor and modify it (e.g. the synopsis must not be empty).

New-Helps -Command My-Command > MyModule.dll-Help.ps1

Step 5: Build the XML help Module.dll-Help.xml from the help script. Copy the result to the module/script directory or a culture resource subdirectory, say, en-US.

Convert-Helps MyModule.dll-Help.ps1 MyModule.dll-Help.xml

This is it. In a new PowerShell session import the command's module or dot-source the command's script and get the command help:

Import MyModule
Get-Help My-Command

How To Get Help

Make sure Helps-Help.xml is in the same directory with Helps.ps1 or in a culture resource subdirectory (like en-US or ru-RU in the package).

For Helps.ps1. Assuming it is in the path:

help Helps.ps1

For its functions. At first dot-source the script and then call help:

. Helps.ps1
help Convert-Helps -Full
help New-Helps -Full

See Also

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