WritersUA User Assistance Tools Survey Bookmark and Share

The use of software tools is an important part of user assistance development. They make it possible to author, edit, and design our content. Tools are also required to transform our content into digital deliverables. Some tools are extremely robust and do many things. Others are very specialized utilities. Today, with our very diversified documentation sets, the number of tools we regularly use has become quite sizeable. This survey supplies you with a peer review to assist you in planning your tool acquisitions.

Methodology

The original survey was published in December 2009 using SurveyMonkey. We presented respondents with a list of commonly used tools and asked them to rate the ones they used based on value (5=Very Important, 1=Unimportant) to their development efforts. There were 710 respondents. Anyone could participate in the survey. We required respondents to identify themselves by first name, last name, and a valid email address. We sent a follow-up email to all the respondents to check for invalid email addresses. Respondents were told their email addresses would be deleted unless they chose to opt-in for our contact list.

This study comes with a couple of caveats. First, the majority of respondents are most likely customers of WritersUA. Most of the survey submissions came in response to email broadcasts we made to our mailing list. However, the WritersUA constituency is large and probably is a fair representation of the overall user assistance community. We also announced the survey on related discussion lists. Second, this survey is intended to represent the interests of technical writers involved in software user assistance and may not be representative of the technical communication or the software development communities at large. Additional survey notes are listed at the bottom of this page.

Below is a complete table of results. Since there are a variety of ways to interpret the data, we felt it would be most appropriate to display the full tabulation.

Tool · Company 5 4 3 2 1 Total

Acrobat · Adobe 389 121 57 37 8 612
Arbortext · PTC 20 6 1 5 7 39
Author-it · Author-it Software 251 24 13 4 13 305
Blaze · MadCap Software 8 1 6 6 9 30
Camtasia · TechSmith 40 38 44 41 27 190
Captivate · Adobe 56 51 62 37 22 228
CorelDRAW · Corel 15 15 24 18 15 87
Doc-To-Help · ComponentOne 19 10 10 6 13 58
Document!X · Innovasys 5 1 2 1 7 16
Dreamweaver · Adobe 45 53 60 34 26 218
Expression · Microsoft 0 7 10 5 8 30
FAR HTML · The HelpWare Group 14 17 14 11 10 66
Fireworks · Adobe 16 10 17 23 16 82
Flare · MadCap Software 114 11 9 8 13 155
Flash Professional · Adobe 25 28 40 40 22 155
Flex · Adobe 5 6 10 6 9 36
FullShot · Inbit 30 8 9 8 12 67
Help & Manual · EC Software 14 5 3 3 11 36
HelpConsole · ExtremeEase 2 0 0 2 6 10
HelpServer · 4.ST 1 1 0 0 6 8
HelpStudio · Innovasys 4 1 2 4 8 19
HTML Help Workshop · Microsoft 53 48 52 48 37 238
HyperSnap · Hyperionics 16 8 5 5 5 39
InDesign · Adobe 32 30 32 34 21 149
Mif2Go · Omni Systems 10 8 17 8 15 58
Mimic · MadCap Software 12 5 10 16 13 56
Morae · TechSmith 7 4 5 1 7 24
Paint Shop Pro · Corel 69 51 64 43 29 256
PhotoShop · Adobe 87 86 82 69 33 357
Presenter · Articulate 7 8 4 8 6 33
RoboHelp · Adobe 113 33 35 43 43 267
SnagIt · TechSmith 246 108 68 25 10 457
UltraEdit · IDM 12 8 23 9 8 60
Vasont CMS · Vasont 4 1 1 1 6 13
Visio · Microsoft 96 110 136 101 25 468
WebWorks ePublisher · Quadralay 36 7 12 19 24 98
XMetaL · JustSystems 26 9 9 10 15 69

Notes

We left Microsoft Word off the survey because it is so ubiquitous in the IT industry. In past surveys over 90% of respondents indicated using it.

We didn't include Adobe FrameMaker in this survey but should have. In past surveys approximately two-thirds of respondents indicated using it.

We chose to list component parts of suites rather than list suites by name.

We chose to consider DITA OT and DocBook to be technologies rather than tools.

There were double-digit write-in votes for Adobe Illustrator (11) and oXygen (12).

Other tools referenced by respondents: ACDSee, Adobe illustrator, Antenna House XSL-FO, Assistware, Astoria CMS, Atlassian Confluence, Axialis Icon Workshop, Axure, Axure (wireframing tools), Balsamiq Mockups, Capture, Corel Designer, Corel PhotoPaint, Corel Ventura Publisher,, CuteFTP, CutePDF, CyberText, Daisy CMS, DJ Java Decompiler, Documentum, DocZone DITA CMS, Drupal, Eclipse, EditPlus, EmEditor, FastHelp, FastStone, Fineprint PDFfactory Pro, Firstobject XML Editor, Flypaper, Gadwin PrintScreen, ganttproject.biz, GIMP, Help Magician, Homesite, IGP:FLIP, Inkscape, Irfanview, Java hsviewer, jEdit, Jing, Knowledge Manager, MadCap Capture, MadCap Lingo, MindManager, Movie Maker, MS Paint, Notepad, Nuance PDF Professional 6, Omnimark, Open Office, oXygen, Paint, Paint.Net, PAINT.NET, pdfFactory Pro, Photo Impact, PNG Converter, Printkey 2000, PSPad, Quark Xpress., Schema ST4, ScreenHunter 4.0, SDL Trisoft CMS, SharePoint, Syntext Serna Free XML editor, TaskArchitect, TextPad, TNT, Top Style Pro 4, TopStyle, Visual Studio 2008, Visual Studio Team System 2008, WebWorksPublisher for FrameMaker 2003, WinCHM, Wink, WYSIWYG Web Builder, Xara Xtreme, Xdocs, XML Mind, XML Notepad, Xyvision.

You can find links to most of these tools in the Tools section of the WritersUA User Assistance Resource Directory.

We hope the information is useful to you. Please send us any feedback you have on the survey or the analysis. To receive news and updates on future WritersUA surveys and events, join our mailing list.