Other than skills and processing phases, documentation experts and technical writers need to be very much friendly with some tools that will drive their career and increase their positions within an organization or even if they are working as a freelancer. These tools vary according to the domains and requirements of what they are working. In this chapter, you will get a brief introduction to all the favorite tools and applications required in technical writing.
Tools Required in Technical Writing
- Adobe FrameMaker
- Adobe RoboHelp
- Text Editor for HTML
- Microsoft Visio
- Windows Snipping Tool
Adobe FrameMaker is an Adobe document processing application designed to write and edit vast and complicated documents that include structured documents. Initially, it was developed by Frame Technology Corporation, which was then bought by Adobe. Another alternative to this application is the MS Office's popular application MS Word which is also used for creating a professional quality document such as books, reports, user manuals, letters, documents, etc.
In both the applications, you can edit, format, and set your customized layout for your document with additional support from online sources. There will be separate chapters on Adobe FrameMaker and its implementation in writing technical documents with appropriate formats and styles.
This is a standard authorizing tool the industry follows for creating help systems or automated help content for desktop and web-based applications. Every computer user has indirectly used this RoboHelp. This is because every time the user presses F1 in any of the standard software applications to call out, the help window containing links and contents is created using the RoboHelp only. Nevertheless, it can also be employed to create other types of conventional technical documentation to print or publish like user manuals, technical contents, articles, guide books, etc.
Text Editor for HTML
Microsoft's Notepad or other third-party text editors such as Notepad ++ are effective for HTML editor if you are a beginner in HTML. The majority of technical writers and developers learn the basics of HTML scripting using this technical writing tool. So in case, your documentation or content does not require very profound online help documents, i.e., for creating help files of moderate size, this tool is extra sufficient to work with. It has a formatted GUI that allows writers and developers to create easy edits. This tool also supports WYSIWYG and multi-language feature to print your document. Technical writers can also learn XML using this, where XML plays a significant role in the technical writing domain.
This is an open-source, online content management tool, and platform used for blogging and authoring. Utilizing this tool can let you use a different layout and formatting features of WordPress.
This is a paid and well-liked diagramming tool that is used for engineering designs and figures. At times, technical writing required to devise flowcharts, diagrams, figures, architectural diagrams, circuit diagrams, product design, etc. for which Visio became a suitable support tool.
Windows Snipping Tool
This is a screen capturing tool that is more urbane than the PrntScr button and contains some additional features and buttons in a GUI format. Other than full-screen capture, technical writers can also take freehand cropping capture of a particular screen section.
There are various other tools, applications, and technologies used that technical writer and document processing experts need to know are:
- XML (Extensible Markup Language)
- MadCap Flare
- Oxygen - XML Editor
- Powtoon (for animated data creation)
- Google Docs
- Adobe Illustrator etc.
But that does not mean you have to have sound knowledge of all of them. Since within a technical writing department, different professionals are experts in their respective fields, the expertise will be distributed as per skills.