Help Authoring Tool Comparison from Sarah Maddox
Even though I dismissed the relevance of help authoring tools in my last post, I thought this writeup by Sarah Maddox on help authoring tools from a presentation by Matthew Ellison at a tech comm conference in Australia was worthwhile and helpful. Sarah paraphrases Matthew:
HATs hide the complexity and allow you to concentrate on the content. You don't need to worry about coding and scripting, conditional tags and other mechanics under the hood.
HATs produce some very nice output, such as browser-based help (WebHelp), PDF and many other types. On the whole, HATs produce the tri-pane output format of online help. If that's what you need, they make it very easy to do.
They provide help-specific features such as context sensitivity, indexing, dropdowns and related topics.
You can also use HATs for single sourcing.
In summary, HATs cater to our specific needs as technical writers.
About Tom Johnson
I'm a technical writer based in the Seattle area. In this blog, I write about topics related to technical writing and communication — such as software documentation, API documentation, visual communication, information architecture, writing techniques, plain language, tech comm careers, and more. Check out simplifying complexity and API documentation for some deep dives into these topics. If you're a technical writer and want to keep on top of the latest trends in the field, be sure to subscribe to email updates. You can also learn more about me or contact me.