Updatable Help Authoring: Step-by-Step

This article documents the steps required to publish Updatable Help.

Authoring Updatable Help: Step-by-Step

Updatable Help is designed for end-users, but it also provides significant benefits to module authors and help writers, including the ability to add content, fix errors, deliver in multiple UI cultures, and respond to user comments and requests, long after the module has shipped. This topic explains how you package and upload help files so that users can download and install them using the Update-Help and Save-Help cmdlets.

The following steps provide an overview of the process of supporting Updatable Help.

Step 1: Find an internet site for your help files

The first step in creating updatable help is to find an internet location for your module's help files. Actually, you can use two different locations. You can keep your module's help information file (HelpInfo XML - described below) at one internet location and the help content files (CAB and ZIP) at another internet location. All help content files for a module must be in the same location. You can place help content files for different modules in the same location.

Step 2: Add a HelpInfoURI key to your module manifest

Add a HelpInfoURI key to your module manifest. The value of the key is the Uniform Resource Identifier (URI) of the location of the HelpInfo XML information file for your module. For security, the address must begin with http: or https:. The URI should specify an internet location for the HelpInfo XML file. Don't include the HelpInfo XML filename.

For example:

    RootModule = TestModule.psm1
    ModuleVersion = '2.0'
    HelpInfoURI = 'https://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkID=0123'


The HelpInfoURI must end with a forward slash (/) character or redirect to a location that ends with a forward slash (/).

Step 3: Create a HelpInfo XML file

The HelpInfo XML information file contains the URI of the internet location of your help files and the version numbers of the newest help files for your module in each supported UI culture. Every PowerShell module has one HelpInfo XML file. When you update your help files, you must update the HelpInfo XML file. For more information, see How to Create a HelpInfo XML File.

Step 4: Create CAB and ZIP files

PowerShell on Windows expects the help content files a module to be stored in a CAB file. PowerShell on Linux or macOS expects the help content files a module to be stored in a ZIP file. If your module runs across multiple platforms you must create both formats.

Use a tool, such as MakeCab.exe, to create a CAB file that contains the help files for your module. Create a separate CAB file for the help files in each supported UI culture. For more information, see How to Prepare Updatable Help CAB Files.

You can use the Compress-Archive cmdlet to create a ZIP file.

Step 5: Upload your files

To publish new or updated help files, upload the help content files to the internet location specified by the HelpContentUri element in the HelpInfo XML file. Then, upload the HelpInfo XML file to the internet location specified by the value of the HelpInfoUri key in the module manifest.

Using PlatyPS to create help content

PlatyPS is a PowerShell module designed to help you create Help content for your modules. You author the help content in Markdown files. PlatyPS can create Markdown templates for your cmdlet, convert the Markdown files to the XML help format (MAML), create HelpInfo XML files, and package the MAML help content into CAB and ZIP files.

For more information, see Create XML-based help using PlatyPS.