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Sunday, 11. January 2009

How I do Continuous Integration with my C# / F# projects – part IV: Adding a documentation

Filed under: C#,English posts,F#,Tools,Visual Studio — Steffen Forkmann at 12:46 Uhr

In the last 3 posts I show how to set up a Continuous Integration environment for F# or C# projects with Subversion (part I), TeamCity (part II) and NUnit (part III).

This time I want to show how we can set up an automated documentation build.

Installing and using GhostDoc

“GhostDoc is a free add-in for Visual Studio that automatically generates XML documentation comments for C#. Either by using existing documentation inherited from base classes or implemented interfaces, or by deducing comments from name and type of e.g. methods, properties or parameters.”

[product website]

GhostDoc is one of my favorite Visual Studio plugins. It allows me to generate comments for nearly all my C# functions. Of course these generated comments aren’t sufficient in every case – but they are a very good start.

Unfortunately GhostDoc doesn’t work for F# 🙁 – the actual version works for C# and the support for VB.Net is called “experimental”.

Download and install http://www.roland-weigelt.de/ghostdoc/.

Now you should be able to generate XML-based comments directly in your C# code:

Using GhostDoc

Generated XML-comment

The next step is to activate the xml-documentation in your Visual Studio build settings:


Commiting these changes and adjusting the build artifacts will produce the input for the documentation build:

Adjust the build artifacts

Build artifacts

Using Sandcastle to generate a documentation

“Sandcastle produces accurate, MSDN style, comprehensive documentation by reflecting over the source assemblies and optionally integrating XML Documentation Comments. Sandcastle has the following key features:

  • Works with or without authored comments
  • Supports Generics and .NET Framework 2.0
  • Sandcastle has 2 main components (MrefBuilder and Build Assembler)
  • MrefBuilder generates reflection xml file for Build Assembler
  • Build Assembler includes syntax generation, transformation..etc
  • Sandcastle is used internally to build .Net Framework documentation


Download and install “Sandcastle – Documentation Compiler for Managed Class Libraries” from Mircosoft’s downloadpage or http://www.codeplex.com/Sandcastle.

For .chm generation you also have to install the “HTML Help Workshop“. If you want fancy HTMLHelp 2.x style (like MSDN has) you need “Innovasys HelpStudio Lite” which is part of the Visual Studio 2008 SDK.

“HelpStudio Lite is offered with the Visual Studio SDK as an installed component that integrates with Visual Studio. HelpStudio Lite provides a set of authoring tools you use to author and build Help content, create and manage Help projects, and compile Help files that can be integrated with the Visual Studio Help collection.”


Last but not least I recommend to install the Sandcastle Help File Builder (SHFB) – this tool gives you a GUI and helps to automate the Sandcastle process.

“Sandcastle, created by Microsoft, is a tool used for creating MSDN-style documentation from .NET assemblies and their associated XML comments files. The current version is the May 2008 release. It is command line based and has no GUI front-end, project management features, or an automated build process like those that you can find in NDoc. The Sandcastle Help File Builder was created to fill in the gaps, provide the missing NDoc-like features that are used most often, and provide graphical and command line based tools to build a help file in an automated fashion.”

[product homepage]

After the installation process start SHFB to generate a documentation project:

Sandcastle Help File Builder

Add the TestCITestLib.dll to your project and add nunit.framework.dll as a dependency. Now try to compile your help project – if everything is fine the output should look something like this:

Generated Help

Setting up the documentation build

One of the main principles of Continuous Integration is “Keep the Build Fast” – so I am working with staged builds here. The documentation build should only be started if the first build was successful and all UnitTests are positive. For most projects it is enough to generate the documentation daily or even weekly.

First of all we have to create a simple MSBuild file which executes the SHFB project:

<Project ToolsVersion="3.5" xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/developer/msbuild/2003">
  <!-- 3rd Party Program Settings -->
    <SandCastleHFBPath>c:\Program Files (x86)\EWSoftware\Sandcastle Help File Builder\</SandCastleHFBPath>

  <Target Name="BuildDocumentation">
    <!-- Build source code docs -->
    <Exec Command="%22$(SandCastleHFBCmd)%22 %22$(SandCastleHFBProject)%22" />

Add this build file and the SHFB project to your Visual Studio solution folder and commit these changes.

Put the build settings into the solution folder

Now we can create a new TeamCity build configuration:

Create a new build configuration

Take the same Version Control Settings like in the first build but use MSBuild as the build runner:

Take the MSBuild runner

We want the documentation to be generated after a successful main build so we add a “dependency build trigger”:


Now we need the artifacts from the main build as the input for our documentation build:

Set up artifacts dependencies

Be sure you copy the artifacts to the right directory as given in your .shfb-project. Now run the DocumentationBuild – if everything is fine the DocumentationBuild should give you the Documentation.chm as a new artifact:


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Thursday, 8. January 2009

How I do Continuous Integration with my C# / F# projects – part III: Running automated UnitTests

Filed under: C#,English posts,F#,Tools,Visual Studio — Steffen Forkmann at 19:13 Uhr

In the last two posts I showed how to set up a Subversion (part I: Setting up Source Control) and a TeamCity server (part II: Setting up a Continuous Integration Server).

This time I will show how we can integrate NUnit to run automated test at each build. TeamCity supports all major Testing Frameworks (including MS Test) but I will concentrate on NUnit here.

"NUnit is a unit-testing framework for all .Net languages. Initially ported from JUnit, the current production release, version 2.4, is the fifth major release of this xUnit based unit testing tool for Microsoft .NET. It is written entirely in C# and has been completely redesigned to take advantage of many .NET language features, for example custom attributes and other reflection related capabilities. NUnit brings xUnit to all .NET languages."

[product homepage]

Creating a TestProject

First of all download and install NUnit 2.4.8 (or higher) from http://www.nunit.org/.

Now we add a small function to our F# source code:

let rec factorial = function  
  | 0 -> 1
  | n when n > 0 -> n * factorial (n-1)
  | _ -> invalid_arg "Argument not valid"

This is the function we want to test. We add a new C# class library to our solution (e.g. “TestCITestLib” 😉 ) and add a reference to nunit.framework. Inside this new TestLibrary we add a TestClass with the following code:

namespace TestCITestLib
    using NUnit.Framework;

    public class FactorialTest
        public void TestFactorial()
            Assert.AreEqual(1, Program.factorial(0));
            Assert.AreEqual(1, Program.factorial(1));
            Assert.AreEqual(120, Program.factorial(5));

        public void TestFactorialException()

To ensure the build runner is able to compile our solution we put the nunit.framework.dll near to our TestProject and commit our changes.

Adding Nunit.framework.dll

Configure TeamCity for UnitTesting

The next step is to tell TeamCity that the build runner should run our UnitTests:

Configure build runner for NUnit

If we now run the build we should get the following error:

UnitTest error during automated build

Our second test function failed, because we didn’t expect the System.ArgumentException. We can fix this issue by adding the corresponding attribute to the Testfunction:

public void TestFactorialException()

Tests passed

Configure the build output

At this point we have a minimalistic Continuous Integration infrastructure. Every time someone performs a Commit on our repository a automated build will be started and the sources will be tested against the given UnitTests. Now we should concentrate on getting our build output – the artifacts. The term artifact is usually used to refer to files or directories produced during a build. Examples of such artifacts are:

  • Binaries (*.exe, *.dll)
  • Software packages and installers (*.zip, *.msi)
  • Documentation files (e.g. help files)
  • Reports (test reports, coverage reports, …)

At this time we are only interested in the binaries (this means CITestLib.dll). We can add the following artifact definition to our TeamCity project:

Configure artifacts in TeamCity

If we now rebuild our solution the build runner collects the configured artifacts and stores them with all build information:

Collected artifacts

Next time I will show how we can add more artifacts – e.g. an automated documentation.

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How I do Continuous Integration with my C# / F# projects – part II: Setting up a Continuous Integration Server

Filed under: C#,English posts,F#,Tools,Visual Studio — Steffen Forkmann at 14:50 Uhr

In the last post I showed how easy it is to install Subversion and how it can be integrated into Visual Studio 2008 via AnkhSVN. This time we will set up a Continuous Integration server and configure a build runner.

As a Continuous Integration Server I recommend JetBrains TeamCity. You can download the free professional edition at http://www.jetbrains.com/teamcity/.

Installing TeamCity

During the installation process TeamCity wants to get a port number. Be sure that there will be no conflict with other web applications on your server. I chose port 8085 – and my first build agent got this default settings:

Configure a Build Agent

In the next step you have to sign the License Agreement and to create an administrator account:

Set up administrator account

Creating a Project

Now you can create your project and set up the build configuration:

Create project on your TeamCity Server

Create CITest project

Create Build Configuration

Set up version control root

Setting up a build runner

For setting up specific build runners see the TeamCity documentation. For now I will use the “sln2008”-Build runner (the Runner for Microsoft Visual Studio 2008 solution files).

Runner for Microsoft Visual Studio 2008 solution files

Now add a build trigger. Whenever someone performs a Commit on the Subversion repository the server has to start a build.

Build trigger

Testing the build runner

After this step we have two options to start a build. The first one is by clicking the “Run”-button on the project website and the second is doing a checkin:

Triggering the build running with a checkin

After performing the Commit the pending build appears on the project website:

Pending build 

After 60 seconds (see my configuration above) the build is starting. After the build is complete one can see the results in different ways. The simplest is via the project website:

View build results

Of cause TeamCity gives you a lot of different notification and monitoring possibilities including mail, RSS feeds or System Tray Notifications.

Next time I will show how we can integrate UnitTesting in our automated build scenario.

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