Help Authoring Tools

Help Authoring Tools Overview

What are Help Authoring Tools (HATs)

Help Authoring Tools (HAT) provide a means to edit and create help documents. These tools may be used to generate manuals for software, online help, or other technical documents and guides. Also known as Technical Documentation Tools, Help Authoring Tools will share some features with word processors and document editors, and general publishing tools.

Another approach to help content authoring is found in Component Content Management Systems (CCMS). Rather than organize content on the document level, CCMS maintain a content model that is granular and topic-based, and preserves relationships of topics across documents and versions. Whether described as a CCMS or a HAT, technical documentation generation tools must support topic-based authoring to provide a useful guide to end-users.

Features of Help Authoring Tools (HATs)

Help authoring tools generally provide the following capabilities:

  • Import HTML, Word docs, HHP, and other formats

  • Can publish multi-format output, i.e. HTML (or any web help site), Word documents, PDF, eBook, or printed manuals

  • Can integrate into web applications to create in-app help system, guides

  • Automated help pop up for apps, guide workflow

  • Screenshot tool, screenshot hotspots

  • In-built word processor comparable to popular word processors

  • Support for multiple views & preview output

  • Image library and image management, vector graphics

  • Customizable content library, reuse content across documents

  • Collaboration tools and multi-user editing, project management (via integration)

  • Topic template library, layouts & themes to suit variety of needs

  • Drag-and-drop, XML, or WYSIWYG editor, suite of editing tools

  • Content or topic search engine or search tool with customizable filter, autocorrect content or topic tagging, search relevance ranking

  • Mobile display aids (e.g. rollup, thumbnail, etc)

  • Version control, remote or offline editing

  • Translation tools and support

Pricing Information

Some Help Authoring Tools or Technical Document tools are available at low cost for a one time cost on a perpetual license. Free versions are available with relatively limited feature sets, or for one user. Licensing may cover a named user, or be issued as a floating license (i.e. one seat, tied to device rather than a person). Higher priced plans may include sophisticated tools for building help systems into apps, or for reusing content from a library. Some vendor offer cloud-based HATs via subscription service. These may also include dedicated support from the vendor.

Help Authoring Products

(1-14 of 14) Sorted by Most Reviews

180 ratings
110 reviews
MindTouch is a customer experience management platform with content management and help authoring capabilities. Formerly known as MediaWiki, it is optimized for building knowledge bases for customer self-service and agent assistance purposes.
Atlassian Confluence
1,001 ratings
82 reviews
Top Rated
Confluence is a collaboration and content sharing platform used primarily by customers who are already using Atlassian's Jira project tracking product. The product appeals particularly to IT users.
3 ratings
3 reviews
Paligo, headquartered in Stockholm, offers their component content management system (CCMS), supporting the creation and publishing of technical documentation and help systems.
ProProfs Knowledge Base
1 ratings
1 reviews
ProProfs Knowledge Base is a help authoring tool for creating help documents or web pages, online FAQs, or other knowledge bases.
Adobe Robohelp
Adobe offers Robohelp, a cloud-based technical content and help authoring solution available via subscription standalone or as part of the Adobe Technical Communication Suite for eLearning and knowledgebase management.
ClickHelp is a technical help authoring tool offered by the Russian company of the same name.
WebWorks ePublisher
WebWorks ePublisher is a publishing and help authoring tool from WebWorks, a Quadralay company, headquartered in Austin.
ONePUBS is a technical document generation and help authoring tool (HAT) from O'Neil & Associates (ONEIL) headquartered in Ohio.
Jorsek, headquartered in Rochester, offers easyDITA, a CCMS and technical document authoring and publishing tool.
Cortona3D RapidAuthor
Cortona3D, a company of Parallel Graphics headquartered in Ireland, offers the RapidAuthor technical documentation drafting and publishing suite.
Web Manuals
Web Manuals headquartered in Malmo offers their suite of technical documentation authoring tools, specifically to the aviation industry.
PTC Arbortext
PTC offers Arbortext, an XML writer and editor designed to support fast publication of technical manuals and aids for evolving products.
MadCap Software
MadCap Software, headquartered in La Jolla, offers MadCap Flare, a help authoring and technical writing tool featuring onboarding and support from MadCap, and a set of modules for designing advanced guides, aids, and web or application help aids.
CorelDRAW Technical Suite
Corel Corporation headquartered in Ottawa offers the CorelDRAW Technical Suite, supplying applications for 2D and 3D visual design and technical documentation.