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Best Help Authoring Software & Tools: Reviews and Comparison

Let’s face it: We live in the 21st century, and there is software for anything and everything nowadays. So it is no surprise that there is software designed to help you write help pages (no pun intended!). Help Authoring Software or Help Authoring Tool (HAT) are software solutions designed to aid technical writers to create online help systems?

In this blog, we aim to enlist the top help authoring tools for you, so you can make a faster choice in choosing the right help authoring software for your needs. In addition to that, we have covered basics about help authoring softwares, the features to look for, and who can effectively use a help authoring software, so that you can make the best possible decision. So without further ado, let’s dive right in!

11 Best Help Authoring Software

  1. The Cloud Tutorial

    Want to write your help articles easily in a FAQ format? Then the Cloud Tutorial is the right choice for you. The Cloud Tutorial was designed to help you write the help articles without worrying about any codes or the uploading process. In this modern-day world, where everyone wants information online, you can create a beautiful online help site for your product and your company with the Cloud Tutorial in a few clicks. Here are some of the top features that you will love:

    • Writing help articles is as simple as writing help pages on a word processor, no need to worry about any uploading or backend stuff
    • Multiple users can manage, edit, view your help site. You can set custom roles for each
    • Organize all your help files in an easy to use software with no learning curve
    • Your writers do not need to import data from word documents anymore. Write, review and upload from one tool
    • Get analytics on your help articles like the number of views, the search term, etc.
    • Organize your help and manuals into an unlimited number of categories
    • A smart search that shows the relevant help articles even for the misspelled terms
    • Make help site web pages with a few clicks

    These features were only the tip of the iceberg. The cloud tutorial has so much more to offer you. You can read in detail about the features offered, and see the magic of this help authoring tool for yourself. There is a free version to get you started, and as your help site grows, you can choose the paid version for additional features.

  2. HelpJuice

    Another knowledge management system that can be used to write online help files, HelpJuice is a Knowledgebase software that helps you to create an internal knowledge base software for your employees and a support site for your customers. Some of the features of this software are:

    • Google-like search function
    • Multi-language support
    • Analytics regarding page views
    • Publish multiple versions of the same article
    • Make web pages SEO friendly

    The only downside of this software is its pricing. If your primary goal is to publish help articles, then paying $120, which is the starting price, is too expensive. The Starter package allows only 4 users and has a 14-day free trial, after which you are chargers $120 per month. The price goes all the way up to $999 per month, and for a help site, it is wise to consider other options.

  3. Adobe RoboHelp

    It is no surprise that the Adobe suite has software designed to facilitate the creation of help pages. You can use Adobe RoboHelp to create help, policy, and knowledgebase articles. If you are already accustomed to other Adobe Softwares, then this help authoring tool has no learning cure for you. Some of the features to note are:

    • Intuitive authoring based on HTML5 and CSS3 formats
    • Add media into content
    • Create seamless review cycles with out of box online review
    • Easily import multiple formats like word, HTML5, and much more from this single source

    Like all other Adobe tools, there are 3 pricing options for you to choose from Individual, Enterprise, and Educational. The later 2 are quoted to you based on the size of your organization, but the Individual plan starts at $29.99 per month. 

  4. Madcap Flare

    MadCap Flare is the technical documentation tool, designed to help technical writers author and publish help files. This help authoring tool is designed for advanced topic-based authoring, single-source publishing, and content management (CMS). Some features of this documentation tool include:

    • Import files from multiple formats like Word, Excel, RoboHelp, etc.
    • Easy authoring for technical writers with an XML editor
    • Publish your articles in the supported multiple formats like HDML, PDF, Microsoft word, etc. from a single source
    • Publish your articles to third-party tools like Zendesk, ServiceNow, etc.

    The pricing structure is very simple, and to use MadCap Flare, you pay a flat price of $149 per month per user. There are additional licensing options available like Floating License and Enterprise Floating Licensing, and to get more information on these, you need to contact the MadCap team. 

  5. HelpNDoc

    A versatile documentation software that works with PDFs, Word, ePub, Kindle, QT Help, HTML, CHM help files, this help authoring software is easy to use and offers a vast variety of features. The most notable thins about HelpNDoc is its ability to create a CHM help file. Some of the additional features of this application are:

    • Create HTML sites, PDF documents, Word documents, and much more all from a single source
    • Clean and easy-to-use interface
    • A super-advanced table of contents editor
    • Live spell check tools

    In terms of pricing, it offers 2 kinds of licenses: Named and Floating Licenses. The named licensing has a free version with limited features and a standard version starting at 99€. The floating license which can be shared between multiple co-workers has a free version and the standard version starting at 249€.

  6. HelpSmith

    A complete help authoring tool (HAT) that is great to create CHM Help files, Web Help systems, Printed manuals, Adobe PDF Documents, Word Documents, and much more from a single source. Some noteworthy features of this software are:

    • Built-in screen capture tool to capture screenshots of the entire screen or selected portions of the screen
    • Writing tools and functionalities that make documentation easier for the technical writers 
    • Automatic help creation for the user interface
    • Advanced features like conditional compilation, syntax highlighter, user-editable variable, etc. 

    To get started with this software, you can download the free version, and get a free trial. The pricing structure is based on a per-seat license, and the pricing starts at $199 for the standard plan. They also offer a volume discount and you need to contact sales to get further details. 

  7. Dr.Explain

    A multi-language help authoring software that is available in 9 different languages to create help files, technical documentation, and online manuals in CHM, PDF, RTF, and HTML formats automatically from a single source. The most unique thing about this software is its screen capture: It captures application screens or web pages and documents them automatically. Some additional features of this software are:

    • Use TIWRI.com ad a cloud platform and Dr. Explain as an editor to work on the cloud
    • Supports links, images, tables, lists, and fonts
    • Multi-lingual program interface

    In terms of pricing, the regular license costs $250, and there is a premium license with a validity of 1 and 2 years costing $585 and $675 respectively for the ultima license.

  8. HelpStudio

    A product of Innovasys, HelpStudio info pages makes the task of help authoring pages incredibly easy. You can create and publish procedures, documentation, and help systems, and integrate them with your application components. Some key features of this software are:

    • Author and collaborate on the WYSIWYG environment
    • Easily import content from Word, RoboHelp, HTML help, or HTML files
    • Output to cress-platform and multiple formats from one single source

    You can download a free version through their website, and purchase a license you have to pay $370. If you want the license with a subscription, then you end up paying $469. 

  9. Help & Manual

    A leader in help and documentation tools, Help+Manual helps you Write, Publish, and deliver help articles and documentation. It is as easy as a word processor, and your technical writes can quickly create professional documentation. This help authoring tool can be accessed by everyone in your organization in addition to the following features:

    • Import and organize everything with a few clicks
    • Import files from 8 different formats
    • Room for Teamwork and multi-user editing
    • Ability to manage translation 

    The software offers a 30-day free trial to its users to get started. After the free trial has ended, you have 5 pricing options to choose from, starting at 199€ and goes all the way up to 1198€.

  10. ClickHelp

    An online documentation tool to author, host, and deliver your technical documentation from a single portal. Taking the process of documentation to the next level, you can manage all your documents from a central place, easily import all your documents, and use the following features:

    • Streamline your documentation to make collaboration easy
    • Get in-depth reports to improve cost-ef
    • Save time on all stages of the documentation life cycle
    • Flexible permission management

    The award-winning documentation tool offers a 30-day free trial to get you started. There are 5 different pricing plans for you to choose from, the most basic one starting at $50 per month, and goes all the way up to $600 per month. You can also get a custom price based on the features you need. 

  11. Confluence

    A name not unknown in the world of knowledge management, Confluence is a collaboration tool to make remote working easy and collaboration simple. You can collaborate with your team members to create documents that can be internal or external like help articles, FAQs, etc. You can publish these collaborated documents on the web, inside your product, or on your website. The top features of this application are:

    • Create templates and make work faster
    • Organize everything in pages and spaces
    • Search within documents easily with google-like search

    You can use confluence for free for the first 10 users, then you need to pay $5 per user per month for the standard plan, and $10 per user for the premium plan.

These were the top 11 Help authoring softwares that you need to consider before choosing the right software for your needs. All software solutions described have something unique to offer and making the choice becomes a bit difficult. If you have any dilemma, please continue reading as the next few sections are dedicated to helping you make a clear choice easily and quickly. 


What is a Help Authoring Software?

Before we discuss anything else, it is crucial to understand the basics about help authoring tools. If you are reading this blog, then you already have a fair idea of what help authoring tools are, and I am not going to define them here. But did you know that Help authoring tools (HAT) have 3 basic functions they are supposed to fulfill? Let’s take a look at them:

  1. File Input: HAT gets the files from multiple formats like PDFs, HTML, CHM, Word documents, and much more. So the first thing a decent HAT should do is accept multiple file formats
  2. Help Output: The output of HAT is most certainly not going to be in one single format. So you should be able to publish the help documents into multiple file formats from a single tool without much hassle. 
  3. Auxiliary Functions: This is what makes different HATs unique- the additional functions it performs. Some of the most common auxiliary functions include Automated index generation, automated table of contents, spelling checker, etc. 

Features to Look For

It is very likely that at this point you have a shortlist of HAT, and you want to finalize one. So at this point, you may ask us, what are the 3 features to consider while choosing a HAT:

  • Easy to use: It goes without saying, that you want to have a software that is easy to use, so there is no learning curve for your employees. If your technical writers need help to use a help authoring tool, then it is wise to look at other options
  • Ability to collaborate on documents: The next thing your writers will do is collaborate on documents. If the HATmakes this easy to do, and offers features to increase collaboration, then it is a great option to consider
  • Skip Excessive Coding: The last feature you need to keep in mind while choosing software is the amount of coding required to use all the functions. If to make optimal use os all the functionality offered, your team needs to have a coding background, then you may want to look at other options.

Who Can Effectively Use a Help Authoring Software?

The next question that naturally arises in mind is that do I actually need a help authoring tool? Then you need to ask yourself what is the amount of help and documentation you need to generate? If you are considering options to create a help page for your product with 50-100 articles at the initial stage than options like The Cloud Tutorial are great as they are affordable and easy to use. You can publish your help site, and with no coding at all, easily update it. 

On the other hand, if you want to create a full help and documentation site, the Adobe RoboHelp, Help+Manual, and De. Explain are good options to consider. These are great as you can have multiple file outputs, and easily integrate them as a part of your product. 


FAQs

To create online help pages, you do not need to invest in licensed help authoring tools like Help+Manual, Dr.Explain, etc. You can use a knowledge management tool like the Cloud Tutorial, HelpJuice, etc. and create a help site as well as maintain an internal knowledge base for your employees.
Adobe RoboHelp is a licensed help authoring tool, used to create help pages, product manuals, and other documentation to go along with your product. Aimed towards producing responsive documentation over responsive sites, it is ideal if you want to create printed manuals.


Conclusion

We hope that after reading this article you have a clear understanding about the basics of help authoring tools. You can purchase a licensed help authoring tool like RoboHelp, HelpNDoc, etc. of your main purpose is to create printed manuals. On the other hand, if you want to create a help site, you can consider subscription-based tools like HelpJuice, Confluence, and the Cloud Tutorial. If you have any more questions for us, please feel free to contact us and we will be happy to hear from you. 

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