June 11, 2012

HAT: An Unbiased Review (What,Why and Which)

A Help Authoring Tool or HAT is a software program used to create, manage, and publish all Online or Offline business-critical documentation. Example Adobe RoboHelp, Madcap Flare, AuthorIT, HelpNDoc etc


HATs obtain their source text either by importing it from a file produced by another program, or by allowing the author to create the text within the tool by using an editor.
File formats that can be imported vary from HAT to HAT, though they can include such formats as HTML, OpenOffice Writer and Microsoft Word, and compiled Help formats such as Microsoft Compressed HTML.


The output from a HAT can be either a compiled Help file in a format such as Microsoft Compiled HTML Help (*.CHM), or non-compiled file formats such as Adobe PDF, XML, HTML, JavaHelp ,EclipseHelp and so on...

      HAT Beyond Help
      Most HATs provide extra functions such as:
  •  Automatic or assisted Index generation
  •  Automatic Table of Contents
  •  Spelling checker
  •   Image editing
  •   Image hotspot editing

    Why do you need it?

Authoring and content reuse.
Reduce Authoring time & Cost.
Importing and Publishing.

      After a document is finished, reviewed and approved, we can easily produce:

  • Print/PDF
  • Web (Context Sensitive help)
  • Help
  • XML
  • DITA

   Unbiased Comparison of HATs

Downloaded trial version of all four software packages (RoboHelp, Flare, Author-IT and HelpNDoc).Compared and evaluated them based on several factors including my personal experience with program; program size; learning curve; user interface and usability; and bug encounters.

  • Used the trail version
  • Learned and compare features
  • Match with our requirements, resource, and expertise
  • Ask for demo and price quote

    Comparison Brief

Before Comparison get sure your parameter because there are many parameters to compare like context sensitive help, content management, Import feature, support work flow, price,hyperlinks,single sourcing features and more....
      One of my client, he was majorly concern with the Simple features, Price and support.


·    After reviewing the four programs, I would recommend Madcap Flare. The easy user interface and excellent tutorial were by far the best of the four tools I used.

·     It is easy to use, cost effective and people are willing to sell it and I found Madcap Flare very prompt in replying mail and solving quires. 

·    Like any tool it can be learned and used. In spite of learning curve, I would recommend Flare V8 .

     You can learn more about the HAT comparison from the following source:

Now you want to resource for download, evaluate and read more about the HATs.Click here

List of HATs is available here.

P.S- You are the perfect person to answer which tool is best for you.Before jumping on the conclusion or asking anyone about best HAT please do keep these things in mind.

About Your Authoring Environment 

1. What operating system do you use? 

2. How many authors are--or will be--working on the project?

3. If the content already exists, what format is it in-- (i.e., Word, FrameMaker, HTML)? 

4. What Help authoring tool(s) do you already use, if any?

5. How familiar are you with HTML? CSS?

6. Do you have any budget constraints? (i.e., how much can you spend on a HAT?)

About Your Help System: 

1. How will the Help be delivered? Will it be printed, installed locally on users' machines, or delivered on the Internet or enterprise intranet?

2. Do you need to deliver your content in multiple formats--for example, print or PDF and HTML Help?

3. Do you have any special look and feel requirements?

4. Do you need to create context-sensitive Help?

5. What operating systems do your users use?

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