Documenting .NET Framework Source Code with XML Comments
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Published: 09 Apr 2007
This article describes how to document VB.NET and C# source code with XML comments.
by Brett Burridge
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Many programming languages have well defined standards for documenting source code. These standards are useful in that they allow developers to add comments to code in a uniform format. Furthermore, it is possible to use tools to extract the documentation from an entire application's source code and use it to automatically produce project technical documentation in a fraction of the time it would take to manually produce the documentation.

Programming languages such as Java have had code documentation standards for many years. The Java system is called JavaDoc, and allows developers to easily create HTML format documentation from the project source code.

Since classic Active Server Pages (ASP) has no defined standards of source code documentation, ASP web application documentation of source code can vary enormously from project to project. While applications, such as the ASP Documentation Tool, can create comprehensive technical documentation from any ASP source code, lack of a defined documentation standard is a major limitation of ASP. Visual Basic 6.0 is similarly affected by a lack of documentation standards.

Thankfully, with the introduction of the .NET Framework, Microsoft included some form of code documentation standards. Sadly, with the 1.0 and 1.1 releases of the .NET Framework, the standards were only supported in the new C# programming language. Not including the standards officially in Visual Basic's replacement, VB.NET was a curious omission. Thankfully though, the 2.0 release of the .NET Framework includes the documentation standards that C# .NET developers had been enjoying for several years.

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