Regarding #1, I doubt there's much I can do about the speed of Visual Studio. The VSPackage relies on the MPF project which was not developed by me. There may be some improvements that could be made to it to help with the project load time but
I'd have to dig into it further to see. Editing MAML topics is done using the standard XML file editor so that's entirely on Visual Studio and there's nothing I could do to speed that up. My guess is you'd probably see a similar pause on first
use if the topic was opened from the Solution Explorer as Visual Studio is most likely loading the compenents needed to instantiate the editor itself.
Regarding #2, that error will occur if you choose the View Help File option or just click the button on the SHFB toolbar for the default action and the help file has not been built. You need to chose the Topic Previewer Window option to preview topics
(View | Other Windows | Topic Previewer Window or select it off the Other Windows toolbar button dropdown).
Regarding #3, clear the path properties in the project and let the build engine find the tools for itself. That should work on any system unless they are installed in a non-standard location such that you need to specify them. Note that ProgramFiles32
is not, as far as I know, a standard environment variable. If it's a project variable, it's most likely not set correctly due to the doubled "(x86)" in the value. Correcting it's value would let it be used.
Regarding #4, as noted above, "View Help File" is not the same as "Topic Previewer" so use the Topic Previewer Window option not the View Help File option.
Regarding #5, externalImage is not a valid MAML element so I assume you mean externalLink. If IntelliSense is not working, you probably haven't installed the IntelliSense XML schema files. Try running the guided installer again and installing
them in the given step. If you installed the schemas manually instead of using the installer, they may not be in there correctly. The installer may have seen the files and not overwritten them. You can manually delete the files and the related
catalog file from the schema cache and try installing them again.
Regaring #6, with IntelliSense in place, the use of a menu to insert the elements is redundant. The HTML encoding option would be good to add but I haven't gotten around to seeing how that can be integrated into the standard XML editor.
Regarding #7, the topic previewer is less forgiving of ill-formed topics. You are most likely missing the required <para> elements in such things as <listItem> and <entry> elements. The MAML guide has been updated to reflect
the proper structure with the required elements. Refer to it for information. Older versions of SHFB did not insert some of the elements in the proper format so they may need fixing if you want to preview them. Sandcastle doesn't care about
them missing at build time but the parser used to generate the topic for preview does. The topics are rendered up to the point of failure so that should help you find the location of the invalid element. With the MAML IntelliSense files property
installed, that also helps as it will flag the invalid elements.
Regarding #8, I make no assumptions about hot keys and assign none to the SHFB commands to avoid potential conflicts. They are left to the user to define. You can use Visual Studio's options to define hot keys for any of the SHFB menu commands
as you see fit just as you would for the standard Visual Studio commands. See the Visual Studio topics in the SHFB help file for more information.
Regarding Q1, see #5 above regarding MAML IntelliSense as those elements are there once the schemas are properly installed.
Regarding Q2, see #1 above. If you're building Help 2 or MS Help Viewer output, one option would be to break the project up into smaller more manageable pieces. Unfortunately, that wouldn't be an option for Help 1 or website output.