I have used plenty of authoring tools and Content Management Systems (CMS) over the years. My time at Microsoft permitted me to see at least 5 tools that were going to change the authoring world. They all more or less had their day but mostly the introduction of a new tool represented a evolution in documentation needs.

Help and Manual was, therefore, the latest tool for me to try in the space. For my money, it is a very good tool. The technical documentation is in a weird state of flux right now. I don’t think any one tool can be the end-all-be-all. H&M, as some call it, is good all around tool.

The best thing about the tool is the help you get from the team of professionals behind H&M. I found them responsive. I got unsolicited updates when I reported bugs for example. My questions in the forum were always answered directly without confusing mumbo jumbo. I was given a solution when one was available. When one wasn’t, I was told in straight-forward terms that it was not possible. This type of response doesn’t make the problem go away but it ends the search and that save time too. I appreciate that.

There are other tools in this market and they are all suffering from the software world not knowing what “documentation” means anymore. I have not done extensive comparisons so I won’t offer a ranking. However, most tools have some short-comings and strengths. For the project that I had, H&M hit a nice sweet spot. I was not at liberty to depart from the tools the customer employed to I was extremely pleased to find that I was not going have an even harder time because to tool was hard to use.

I am under the impression H&M has more users in Europe. I am happy to say that this user in the States had no problems. I’m happy to have the experience and look forward to continued exploration of its functionality.

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