If you are going to be writing help documentation, having some good tools will help make the process a bit easier. Here is a list of tools that I have used or would like to try.
Writing Help Documents
- Screensteps or Clarify-it
- (they are from the same company, and I really can’t see what the difference is, however Clarify-it comes with a skitch-like tool for sharing screen shots).
- Really helps you to think about the problem in a step by step way.
- Desktop and Network versions are Cheap. Just get it!
- Inbuilt screen shot and markup tools.
- There is an online version (Screensteps Live) to host your help pages, but it is expensive. Just export the HTML to your preferred help system.
- It now comes in mac flavour also, it is worth paying for. Just get it!
- It is the best screen-shot tool around.
- Good markup tools.
- Good workflow tools – eg auto save to file and prompt for a file name.
- Now comes with video too!
- Gadwin Printscreen
- The best free windows screen shot tool.
- Great workflow tools
- No markup, unfortunately
- Windows snipping tool
- If that is all you have.
- Way better than your default print screen.
- Standard in Windows 7.
- Does basic markup.
- The quasi-default for mac (but I think Snagit is better).
- Now comes in windows flavour (after a very long wait).
- Made right here in Aus, then sold to Evernote.
- Inbuilt uploader.
- Windows Problem Step Recorder
- Brilliant tool for taking screen shots of a process as it automatically screen shots everything you do, plus records the steps.
- Baked right into Windows 7.
- For windows and mac (the mac version is quite different).
- Expensive, but worth it.
- Good editing tools, but it takes a long time.
- It takes a really long time to produce the videos.
- If you don’t have Camtasia, SnagIt is good enough for short videos.
- Great for basic videos.
- Great upload integration.
- Free, or Cheap for pro
- I haven’t used it properly yet, because screencast is free with similar features.
- Just get it!
- Password protected folders.
- Don’t put anything up there publicly unless it is good!
- Private sharing or share by URL.
- Free (Just get it!) or Cheap
- Adequate, but can be flaky.
- Users can share their screen.
- You can take control.
- Integrated Audio, or dial in numbers, including Aus number – which is great.
- Very laggy – join the session from another computer so you can see what your users are seeing, and talk at the pace of the video.
- It regularly takes people 15mins to get in, get connected to audio, and share their screen. It is obviously not intuitive enough.
- Google Hangouts
- Free, but very basic only.
- No ability for the users to maximise their view of the screen – use ctrl– but it is still not good enough.
- Go To Meeting / Go To Webinar
- If you can afford it, or your company pays for it, just get it.
- There is no better out there.
- One word. Horrible!
- Need Skype Premium to share screens.
- Use it if you have got it.
- For collaborating on PDFs
- Includes markup tools
- Integrated chat
- Really quite cool
- Free or cheap plans. Just Try it!
(Interestingly, this article mentions most of these tools http://lifehacker.com/5878067/five-best-online-meeting-services).
You need a good headset to do videos or screen sharing. I have tried many many many headsets. On both Windows and Mac The best is USB, and the best by far to date has been theLogitech H540. Just get it! It is bulky, but very comfortable and great sound.
Hosting Your Help System
- Google Docs
- Good for simple documents (I would just go Confluence for documents with many pages).
- Use the publish feature.
- Google Sites
- Free if you have a Google Apps account
- Very basic
- Difficult to get right.
- Confluence On Demand
- Just get it!
- $10/month for 10 users and unlimited anonymous access (ie visible on the web).
- For Help integrated into Salesforce
- Made right here in Melbs
- Good pricing
- Horrible to create content, especially adding images – that is not Crowd Guide’s fault, it is Salesforce’s fault.
- Screensteps Live
- Integrates into other systems – eg Zendesk and Salesforce.
- Support Systems:
- A very interesting approach to tutorials on your own website.
- They have options for Salesforce and Moodle also.
There are many code options to doing tutorial overlays:
- Chardin.js – JQuery Library to create simple one page overlays.
- Hopscotch – Looks very nice and easy to use for product tours.
- Amberjack – is good because it dims the rest of the page.
- JQuery Joyride – Yet another one.
- jQuery TourBus – written in CoffeeScript.
- QTips – JQuery library to do tooltips – excellent for glossaries.
- Not a help system as such, but possibly a great way to get feedback from your users, especially during testing.
Also see how Submit Feedback works in Google+
I hope that using one or more of these tools will help you with the sometimes tedious process of writing your help documents.
This list also appears at https://cybernetics.atlassian.net/wiki/display/HELP/Help+System+Tools and was talked about in my talk at the Agile Business Analysts Meetup in Melbourne titled “We need to talk about documentation”.