Building a Help project

I wonder if anyone can give me some instruction as to how to build a locally installed Help for Audacity. I have the Python in my computer now. How do you use Visual Studio to achieve the goal. I could not find anything

See “MSVC++ STEP 5: Consider and Configure Optional Features” in The “help” folder should then appear in your build folder. You must be connected to the internet to build the help project.

If you built 2.1.2 release, you can instead download the Audacity Manual from


With the information Gale gave me, I finally got Audacity compiled for ASIO. I pretty much followed the instruction in Audacity/win/compile.txt. Thank you Gale. The instructions in this document are definitely very sketchy and even wrong.
This piece of document was written for the Audacity experts and not for the average Joe. Even if you are an expert in other forms of programming, you may still have problems in understanding it. I printed out the instructions and wrote a lot of notes on it. Now I become an expert to compile Audacity for use with ASIO. Just joking.

As with other programs, “the average Joe” would just download the Audacity executable and use it. Compiling a modified version of application from the source code is not what a average Joe typically does. :wink:

Joking aside, please tell us if you can make the instructions easier to follow, and do let us know about any error so that they can be fixed. Audacity is developed, documented, translated and supported by volunteers. If you can help, you are welcome to do so. (

I will do that. Just give me some time. I do not know when it will be though.

There is no need to mention the problem with incorrect information about copying folders into Widgets. We’ll correct that, though there will probably be a new option to download our own patched version of Widgets.

Note that we won’t want to make win\compile.txt verbose, because it is intended for developers, really. It would be nice to have a guide to compiling Audacity on Windows with images and hand-holding for those who would otherwise struggle with it, but we don’t really have the resources to do that ourselves.


I have started to work on the instructions. Once I get it done, I will posted it in the forum for you to review. Make changes accordingly. The is one more thing I hope you could help me out. After compilation, I open up the application to look at the Help. It say a local copy is not available. When I open up Audacity/Help from the Windows explorer, it contains a manual folder, in addition to 4 files, audacity.1, audacity.appdata.xml, and Inside the manual folder, there are 4 other folders, images, m, man and manual and 3 files, favicon.ico, index.html and quick_help.html. In the man folder, there are many files containing help information. I am able to open up the files by clicking them. All of them contains help info. It appears everything is there. However, it appears a link is missing between all these files and the HELP button on the application. I wonder if you could shed some light on this missing Link.

It would be quicker to just tell us what is wrong or confusing with the current instructions. The developers won’t accept long essays in compile.txt.

Or if you are writing a complete step by step with images, you would probably be better to create that on a draft page on our Wiki: I could set up a Wiki account for you.

Audacity won’t see the Manual there. When you build the “help” project it should copy the “manual” folder to a “help” folder in your build folder (Audacity\win\Release, or Audacity\win\Debug if you built the Debug version of Audacity). When you execute audacity.exe from that build folder, Audacity “should” see the Manual there. It doesn’t for me, so I suppose it is a bug.

What you could do is download the latest Inno Unicode Installer from, then run audacity\win\audacity.iss to build the Audacity installer. The installer is placed in audacity\win\Output. Execute the installer, run Audacity from the installed location then it should see the Manual.


Hi Gale:
I do not expect the my instructions would go to audacity/win/compile.txt. Perhaps it is best to post it elsewhere. If the users do not have some experience, it is better to have the step by step instructions. If you want to, I can email my instructions to you to review once I finish to decide what to do next. At this point, I just supplement what I think it should be included. I am not re-writing everything. What do you think?

I saw the files in both places, in the win/release/help and audacity/help.

I did try it the way you suggested. During the Inno compilation, it said the manual was not there. I then downloaded a copy of the manual and placed it in the help folder. Then I re-compiled with Inno. I got the final product in the output folder. It was installed uneventfully. After I opened up the application, the manual was there.

I’d be interested to see your notes cmjone, and in the new year I ‘may’ be in a position to try them out (depending on whether my new computer comes with Windows installed or not). When you’re ready, I’d suggest that you post them as a new topic in this (“Compiling Audacity”) section of the forum and we can take it from there.

Some of you might recall, a few years back, I wrote a very detailed “Getting Started Compiling Audacity” guide and hosted it on The Hometown Band’s website. The band moved to a different provider when I retired and the guide is no longer available. It’s now a bit out of date because it deals with Microsoft Visual Studio 2008, Audacity 2.0 and using SVN from Audacity’s old site (not GIT). I still have the whole thing available on my hard drive if anyone is interested.

I think you should put it on our Wiki as a page “under construction”. Then Steve, Ed and everyone else can see it and collaboratively edit it, if you agree to them doing that.

It is very likely we’ll move the outdated Cygwin instructions out of compile.txt into some kind of additional page on our Wiki.

The problem with detailed or optional pages on Wiki is that someone needs to commit to maintaining them (keeping them updated).

Well, in win\audacity.iss we have

Source: "..\help\manual\*"; DestDir: "{app}\help\manual\"; Flags: ignoreversion recursesubdirs

so if you ran audacity.iss from the win directory then Inno should have found the help\manual folder.


Several years ago, I used Edgar’s instructions to compile Audacity. Definitely, it is outdated now. However, I still have a copy of it.