5 Popular HATs for Tech Documentation

5 Popular Help Authoring Tools for Technical Documentation

Puja Mitra

The success of any product hinges on its user acceptance. Technical documents play a pivotal role in comprehending and effectively utilizing a product or service. Technical writers craft these documents to facilitate a seamless product lifecycle.

Help Authoring Tools (HATs) are attuned to the requirements of technical writers and their teams. They provide structured authoring environments, streamline content creation, and offer robust content management systems. In this post, you will know 5 popular HATs. This article covers the following topics:

  • What is a Help Authoring Tool?
  • Advantages of Using HAT
  • 5 Popular Hats
  • Comparing Hats
  • Conclusion

What is a Help Authoring Tool?

A Help Authoring Tool (HAT) is a software application that is used for creating and managing support documentation and user assistance materials like online help documents, API, FAQs, instruction manuals, tutorials, and user guides.

Commonly used Help Authoring Tools:

Advantages of Using HAT

In addition to the primary function of creating and organizing help documents, HATs offer the following benefits:

  • Provide Compliance Documentation: HATs help in creating compliance documentation in regulated sectors like healthcare and finance.
  • Support Localization: These tools assist in the process of localizing documentation for different languages and regions, making it accessible to a global audience.
  • Enable Collaboration: Many HATs come equipped with version control features, allowing teams to collaborate on documentation projects and track changes over time.

5 Popular Hats

Among the HATs mentioned above, the following tools have extensive use among technical writers.

  • MadCap Flare
  • Adobe FrameMaker
  • Oxygen XML Editor
  • Author-it
  • HelpNDoc

MadCap Flare

Why Use
MadCap Flare is preferred by technical writers as it offers topic-based authoring and publishing, collaborative features, hosting choices, analytics capabilities, cost savings in the technology stack, and an enhanced review package process between Flare and MadCap Central.

To know how Madcap Flare works, click here.

Trial Version
Offers a 30-day free trial.

Adobe FrameMaker

Why Use
Adobe FrameMaker is integrated with Adobe Experience Manager. It, provides translation support through XLIFF, produces premium WYSIWYG PDFs, and facilitates effortless content adaptation for diverse output formats including print, PDF, HTML5, and mobile devices.

To know about FrameMaker, click here.

Trial Version
Offers a 30-day free trial.

Oxygen XML Editor

Why Use
Oxygen XML Editor offers CSS-Based visual editing and an advanced DITA support. It generates output in XHTML, PDF, HTML, JavaHelp, and Eclipse Help formats and provides XML Publishing Frameworks, such as DITA, DocBook, XHTML, and TEI. It easily converts DITA Maps to desktop and mobile WebHelp systems. and includes a Content Completion Assistant to streamline XML content management and creation.

To know more about Oxygen XML Editor, click here.

Trial Version
Click here to receive one trial license key for Oxygen XML Editor, Author, and Developer.


Why Use
Author-it presents a scalable Content and Component Management System (CCMS) solution, featuring robust enterprise-level security. This solution facilitates seamless content import from MS Word, web sources, or legacy help systems. It promotes real-time collaboration and review processes, without requiring any coding expertise. Author-its comprehensive CCMS authoring solution also automatically identifies components necessitating translation, thereby, streamlining the localization process.

To know how Author-it can benefit you, click here.

Trial Version
A trial version is not available. However, it provides a highly valuable Resource Center.


Why Use
HelpNDoc facilitates batch exporting, offers conditional generation, and provides advanced customization choices. It generates a wide range of documentation types, including CHM help files, responsive HTML websites, PDFs, MS Word documents, mobile websites for iPhone and Android, ePub and Kindle eBooks, Markdown documents, and Qt Help files.

To discover how to utilize HelpNDoc, click here.

Trial Version
Free version is available for personal use.

HAT Output Formats Content Reuse Collaborating with Team Highlights
MadCap Flare
  • HTML (Web-Based Help)
  • PDF
  • Microsoft Word
  • EPUB
  • XML
  • Mobile formats (For example, iOS and Android)
  • Online Help Systems (For example, CHM, WebHelp)

Provides content reuse through snippets and variables

  • Offers MadCap Central that facilitates collaboration
  • Offers Version control
  • Modern and intuitive interface
  • Context-Sensitive ribbon and toolbars
  • Visual editor for non-technical users
  • Extensive online documentation and tutorials
Adobe FrameMaker
  • PDF
  • Print formats (For example, books, manuals)
  • WebHelp
  • HTML5 output
  • EPUB
  • XML
  • Integration with Adobe products like InDesign and RoboHelp

Offers content reuse through structured authoring and elements like variables and cross-references.

  • Uses shared network environment.
  • Integrates FrameMaker projects with version control systems like Git or SVN to manage changes.
  • Familiar interface for Adobe users
  • WYSIWYG authoring mode
  • Robust formatting and layout capabilities
  • Extensive templates for various document types

Oxygen XML Editor

  • XML
  • HTML
  • PDF
  • EPUB
  • DITA output
  • XSL-FO for print formats
  • XML-Based formats

Excels in handling structured content, making it suitable for content reuse.

  • Collaborative environment.
  • Offers version control systems.
  • Implements role-based access control.
  • Intuitive XML editing features
  • Customizable interface
  • Contextual menus and guides
  • Strong online documentation and forums
  • Web-Based Help
  • PDF
  • HTML
  • Word
  • Print formats (For example, books)
  • XML and DITA-Based outputs

Uses component-based approach, version control system and applies conditions to content components.

  • Manages content creation workflows
  • Offers version control
  • Offers Collaboration Portal for team members
  • Component-Based authoring simplifies content creation
  • Clear workflow management
  • Collaboration features
  • User-friendly interface
  • HTML (Web-Based Help)
  • CHM (Compiled HTML Help)
  • PDF
  • Word
  • EPUB
  • Kindle
  • Markdown
  • Mobile formats (iOS and Android)
  • eBook formats

Offers content reuse through snippets and variables.

  • Supports collaboration through file sharing, version control
  • Stores HelpNDoc projects in shared folders or cloud storage services like Dropbox, OneDrive, or Google Drive
  • Maintains regular backups
  • Extremely user-friendly, suitable for beginners
  • Intuitive interface with minimal learning curve
  • Drag-and-drop functionality
  • Easy-to-understand documentation


You should decide which HAT to use based on requirements, team size, budget, and the complexity of your documentation projects. Each tool offers a unique set of features and advantages, so it’s essential to evaluate them based on the project’s needs.

“Technology is best when it brings people together.”
- Matt Mullenweg

About the Author

After completing her MA in Economics and earning an MBA, Puja commenced her career in HR management, content editing, writing, and technical documentation. With over 15 years of experience, she has become a seasoned professional in these fields.

Currently, she serves as the Managing Editor at engineering.com. She finds satisfaction in developing training programs for new hires as it allows her to assist both individuals and the company as a whole. During her leisure time, she enjoys indulging in her passion for painting.

Current Role: Managing Editor
Company: engineering.com
City: Kolkata
Connect at LinkedIn

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