PowerShell HelpWriter 2017: What’s New? (Part 1)

PowerShell HelpWriter 2017 is released! PowerShell HelpWriter 2017 is included as part of the regular update cycle for our subscribers.

We’ve written a series of blog posts to introduce you to the newest features of the product and in this release, we made major changes to PowerShell HelpWriter.

What do we mean by major changes?

By major changes, we mean we completely rewrote the whole UI for the application from the ground up. We gave the application a complete overhaul to keep it in line with PowerShell Studio’s interface.

PowerShell HelpWriter 2017


What’s New?

In this article we will discuss some of the major changes and additions in this series of What’s New articles. Let’s get started.


New Designer

We updated the designer and included various improvements to make editing your help files easier.

Designer Cmdlet


Expanding Edit Fields

One of the new additions is expanding edit fields that adjust to their content. This allows you to read the complete descriptions without requiring you to scroll within a tiny box.

Expanding Edit Fields


Parameter Sets and Syntax Improvements

PowerShell HelpWriter now displays parameter set names and their corresponding syntax.

ParameterSets Designer

To view a parameter set’s parameters, simply select the parameter set in the list and the Parameters section will display the corresponding parameters.

ParameterSets Parameters

The Navigation panel also displays the parameter set names:

ParameterSet Names

You can also edit the parameter set names directly in the Navigation panel.


Context Menu Improvements

We added new context menus and options to make authoring help files easier and faster.

For example, you can add existing parameters to a parameter set:

Context Menu - Add Existing Parameter

Or add a link to another cmdlet in the help file:

Context Menu - Add Link

Or use the navigation context menu to visit a link’s URL:

Context Menu - Visit Link URL


Breadcrumb Navigation

You can now use the breadcrumb control to navigate the help contents:

Breadcrumb Navigate cmdlets

It allows you to jump to various help objects through the document.


New XML Editor

We added a new XML editor that provides syntax help and display validation errors as you go.

New XML Editor

The new editor also supports formatting and provides XML PrimalSense for the MAML Schema.

XML PrimalSense

Module Selection Dialog

We also revamped the Module Selection Dialog for PowerShell HelpWriter.

The dialog now displays the author and company in addition to the version for each module. You now have the option to filter the results using the search field.

Select Module Dialog

PowerShell HelpWriter allows you to create help for specific versions of a module by simply selecting the desired version from the list.

In the case where the module isn’t located in a PSModulePath directory, you can instead select the module using the Browse button.

Browse for module


The new Preview panel allows you to preview the selected cmdlet’s full help without having to leave the application.

Preview Panel

Any modifications made during editing will be reflected in the Preview panel.


About Topics

You can now create about topic files using PowerShell HelpWriter 2017. The about topic editor visually distinguishes headers from normal text in order to facilitate your editing experience.


PowerShell HelpWriter 2017 provides you with a starting template that you can edit to fit your needs.


Auto Correct Help Files

PowerShell HelpWriter 2017 will automatically correct common structural issues to keep the file in compliance with the help schema. No user intervention needed.

Autocorrect file structure


Improved Performance

PowerShell HelpWriter 2017’s performance has improvement over the previous versions. We drastically reduced the load speeds of large help files (AWS I’m looking at you!). We also reduced the transition time when switching between the designer and the XML editor. Saving the document is no longer necessary when switching between the two.


Next in Part 2, we will cover the new project feature for PowerShell HelpWriter.