Basic Tools for Technical Writers

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 on what they are working. In this chapter, you will get a brief introduction to all the favorite tools and applications that are required in technical writing.

Tools Required in Technical Writing

Here are some essential tools mentioned that are usually used by technical writers for technical writing:
  • Adobe FrameMaker
  • Adobe RoboHelp
  • Text Editor for HTML
  • WordPress
  • Microsoft Visio
  • Windows Snipping Tool

Adobe FrameMaker

Adobe FrameMaker is an Adobe's document processing application designed to write as well as edit vast and complicated documents which include structured documents. Initially, it was developed by Frame Technology Corporation which was then bought by the Adobe. Another alternative to this application is the MS Office's popular application MS. Word that is also used for creating a professional quality document such as books, reports, user manual, 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 as well. There will be separate chapters on Adobe FrameMaker and its implementation in writing technical documents with appropriate formats and styles.

Adobe RoboHelp

This is a standard authorizing tool the industry follows for creating help systems or automated help contents for desktop as well as 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 application to call out the help window containing links and contents is created using the RoboHelp only. Nevertheless, it can also be employed for creating other types of conventional technical documentation to print or publish like user manuals, technical contents, and articles, guide books, etc.

Text Editor for HTML

Microsoft's Notepad or other third-party text editors such as Notepad ++ are effective for use as HTML editor if you 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 in creating 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 technical writing domain.

WordPress

This is an open source, online content management tool, and platform, which is used for blogging and authoring utilizing this tool can let you use a different layout and formatting features of WordPress.

Microsoft Visio

This is a paid and well-liked diagramming tool that is used for engineering designs and figures. Technical writing at times 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 which 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
  • Xmetal
  • Oxygen - XML Editor
  • Whatfix
  • 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 expert in their respective field, the expertise will be distributed as per skills.


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