Recommendable Help Authoring Tools
There are a big number of help authoring tools available on the market whose feature set and license price may significantly vary.
To help you choose a suitable help authoring tool that will allow you to complete your help project, we have prepared a list of features that you may need for that.
In addition, before downloading a particular help authoring software, you can see our instruction explaining how to create a help file or manual in ten steps.
Help Authoring Tools in Middle Price Market Segment
To create a help file, you can consider a help authoring tool from the middle price segment. Usually such a help authoring tool provides all the basic features needed to create a help file, printed manual, PDF document, or a simple text document. It should be pointed out that with the development of help authoring software from the middle price segment, these HATs have obtained many advanced features including conditional compilation and translation capabilities. Thus, you may consider purchasing one of the following tools that will let you successfully complete your help project and save your budget.
License Price: $199
HelpSmith is a feature-rich help authoring tool allowing users to create help files and manuals with ease.
The application provides an intuitive environment that combines a full-featured word processor with a spell checker, the topics manager, the keyword editor, and formatting tools, that you can use to organize the Table of Contents, create an alphabetical Index, and, of course, to write help topics using images, movies, lines, page breaks, bookmarks, conditional text, variables, breadcrumbs, and custom HTML code insertions.
According to the review from SoftPedia, the tool requires minimal system resources and has a good response time and performance. Also, being a help authoring tool which is mainly targeted to software developers, it should satisfy all users who need to create help files for their own applications.
License Price: $290
DrExplain is help file software used for creating help files, user guides, and online manuals for other software applications.
The main focus of this help file tool is the possibility to create help files for application windows automatically by parsing an application and producing screenshots and explanation templates for its windows. Like many help tools, this program enables creating help files and manuals in multiple formats from a single source.
The supported help formats are: HTML-based manuals, CHM HTML Help, RTF that can be viewed in MS Word, and PDF document.
License Price: $129
WinCHM is a simple application that allows you to create CHM files from scratch or by using existing HTML files.
The tool includes a word processor and allows you to setup properties of images, cells, tables, and pages. Also, it allows the help writer to customize project parameters such as title, location, encoding settings, and HTML Help-related options like default topic, language, and page charset.
To create CHMs using WinCHM, a user should have experience with the HTML markup language, and some other skills.
License Price: $199
HelpGear is a help authoring tool used for creating help file resources including HTML Help (CHM) files, browser-based Web Help, documents in RTF formats (that can be viewed by MS Word), and PDF manuals with a third party PDF printer utility.
The help file tool includes a word processor with Unicode support, and single sourcing capabilities making it possible to create help files in multiple output formats from the same help project.
High Price Market Segment of Help File Tools
In this list your will find some of the help authoring tools from the high-price segment. Such tools usually provide a rich feature set including conditional compilation, translation, and collaborative working capabilities. However, the license price for a tool from this price segment may be quite high and acceptable only for companies or technical writers who create help files on a full-time basis.
Licence Price: $999
MadCap Flare is a versatile documentation tool allowing you to generate help files, cross-platform browser-based help systems, and also help files in the format used in .NET environment. In addition to electronic kinds of help documentation, you can also use this tool to generate a printed manual.
As a help file tool from the high price segment, this application includes many useful features to make the process of creating a help file easier. Also, it is possible to import content from other tools including MS Word, HTML document, and RoboHelp.
Since the license price for this help file tool is quite high, it is mainly used by full time technical writers and companies who need to develop and maintain large amount of documentation in different formats.
License Price: €1150
RoboHelp is a help authoring tool used by technical writers to generate help files in the following formats: Adobe PDF, FlashHelp, WebHelp, Adobe AIR, XHTML, HTML Help, WinHelp, MS Word, Oracle Help, JavaHelp, ePUB.
The tool includes different capabilities and features such as HTML5 publishing, customization possibilities, context-sensitive Help for Mobile Apps, SEO-friendly output, customizable screen layouts, integration with Microsoft SharePoint, etc.
You can consider RoboHelp, a tool from the high price market, if, for example, you need to write, maintain or convert large amount of documentation and help files on a full-time basis. However, if you only need to create a middle-sized help file, you can obviously complete your task using a simpler help authoring software.
Help & Manual
Basic edition: €319
Professional edition: €479
Help & Manual is help file and documentation software which enables you to create help files for software applications. The main output help formats supported with this tool are WinHelp, HTML Help, and PDF documentation.
The tool provides a ribbon-based user interface, which is similar to Microsoft Word, various customization possibilities, support for tables, images, links, and other objects which are often needed to write help files.
It should be pointed out that novice users may need some time to learn advanced features provided with this help authoring tool. Also, according to the review from SoftPedia, the tool may require a high amount of system resources.
License Price: $1095
Doc-to-Help is an authoring tool enabling you to write content in the built-in editor or import existing Word documents, HMTL Help, or WinHelp projects.
According to HAT-matrix, the tool allows you to focus on content writing, to create the Table of Contents and Index, and configure your project by adding topics links, editing themes and styles.
The help formats supported with this help tool are NetHelp (a Web-based Help system), Microsoft HTML Help (or CHM Help), Adobe PDF, DOC, WinHelp (an obsolete help format used in earlier Windows versions), JavaHelp, and Help 2.0 which is mainly used by Microsoft .NET developers.
The help tool also supports conditions and variables making it possible to create customized versions of a help file for different audiences.
Download a Help Authoring Tool
If you a looking for a suitable tool to create your help file, you can view the Choosing a Help Authoring Tool section for the list of features that you may need to complete a particular project.
Also you can download one of the recommendable help authoring tools which includes support for multiple help formats, an easy-to-use UI, and advanced features such as conditional text.