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How To: Enable ArcMap to create documentation for custom geoprocessing tools


Instructions provided describe how to enable ArcMap to create documentation for custom geoprocessing tools that are not models or scripts. When custom geoprocessing tools are created using programming languages such as C#, VB .Net and C++, the Windows registry must be updated to allow help documentation to be created with the Documentation Editor.

Custom tools created through the geoprocessing environment in the form of models or scripts, allow use of the Documentation Editor to produce documentation by default. Tools created in other formats, such as C#, VB .Net and C++, work within the geoprocessing environment. However, the Documentation Editor is not accessible unless a registry update is performed.

Verify that the Metadata_File() property in the custom tool is set before compiling. Make the value equal to a unique file name with an '.xml' extension. This property is read from the tool by the application. The first time documentation of a file is created with the specified name, it is generated in the path returned by the MetadataFile property. This sample shows an example where the metadata file is created at the location of the program executable. However, if  only the name of an XML file is returned, then the metadata file is created under <install directory>\Help\gp folder. Each time changes made in the Documentation Editor are saved, they are written to the XML file. The content of this file is displayed in the custom tool help, on the side panel of its dialog box, and in the metadata window of ArcCatalog.


There are a number of ways to update the computer registry. Two methods are presented below. The first method is the least complicated.

The instructions below include making changes to essential parts of your operating system. It is recommended that you backup your operating system and files, including the registry, before proceeding. Consult with a qualified computer systems professional, if necessary.

Esri cannot guarantee results from incorrect modifications while following these instructions; therefore, use caution and proceed at your own risk.

Method 1

  1. Open Notepad and add these lines of text:

    For Version 10.1:

    For Version 10:

    For 9.3.1 and earlier versions:

    ▪ Setting the value to 1 means documentation for the tools can be edited.
    ▪ Setting the value to 0 removes this ability and the Documentation Editor becomes inaccessible.

  2. Save the text file with a '.reg' file extension.
  3. To run the .reg file, double-click it. This updates the Windows registry.

Method 2

Alternatively, registry changes can be made manually.

  1. Open the system registry: Click Start > Run, and type REGEDIT in the Run dialog box. This opens the Registry Editor.
  2. Navigate to the table of contents in the Registry Editor as follows:

    For Version 10.1:

    For Version 10:


    For 9.3.1 and earlier versions:

    [O-Image] GPDoc_regedit1

  3. Right-click ArcToolbox and, in the context menu, select New > DWORD Value.

    [O-Image] GPDoc_regedit2
  4. Type 'CanEditMetadata' as the value. Verify that the case is maintained.

    [O-Image] GPDoc_regedit3
  5. Right-click the name of the new value and, in the context menu, select Modify.

    [O-Image] GPDoc_regedit4
  6. The Edit DWORD Value dialog box opens. Change the Value data to 1.

    [O-Image] GPDoc_regedit5
  7. Click OK, and close the Edit DWORD Value dialog box and the Registry Editor.

Last Published: 8/12/2016

Article ID: 000006967

Software: ArcMap 10.4.1, 10.4, 10.3.1, 10.3, 10.2.2, 10.2.1, 10.2, 10.1, 10