Choosing a Help Authoring Tool

Checklist of key criteria for selecting a so-called help authoring tool (HAT), online documentation tool, or help development tool. Help authoring tools can be used for creating online help files (help sites) and user manuals from the same source (single source publishing principle).

Help authoring tools (HATs) or user assistance development tools are specialized editors and converters you can use to create online technical documentation. Today, many help authoring tools also provide features for single source publishing, which means that you can generate several output formats and versions from one shared text base. While most help authoring tools manage to produce different online formats such as browser-based help and compiled help very well, only a few tools can also produce printed user manuals (PDF) of professional quality. Big differences also exist among HATs when it comes to translating projects into foreign languages.

Note: You can find a list of tools under Help Authoring Tools and Online Documentation Tools.