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I am looking for a software tool that provides full document editing facilities to create a help file for my software application.

It's a .Net application so I am looking for a Windows based solution. The following requirements are a must:

Full document editor

It must be easy to create these help files. Think like Microsoft Word in terms of functionality, it doesn't need everything, but layout, formatting, insert images, etc. All the basics to create a professional looking help file.

Version control

Each release version of my software will need an updated help file. So I want to be able to version control the help file.

It is a requirement to be able to view any given version number, make changes to multiple versions, and review version differences (i.e. I want to find all sections that have been changed between versions, and easily see which exact words/blocks have changed)

Multi-language support

I am required to produce help files in multiple languages, these will be manually translated, however I would like to be able to easily switch between different language versions of the same files.

For example, if I have an "Introduction" page, I would like to switch between "Introduction" (English) and "Introduction" (Arabic) easily. The final output should be a different output set for each language that is configured. So I end up with one set of English files, and another set of Arabic files.

Output to HTML

The final output format for the help files should be HTML. This would be something along the lines of a different HTML file per help page. With a navigation menu built in to move between sections.

Bonus output format would be CHM and PDF.

Costs

I am looking for a fully-featured, well-maintained and supported tool, so for that I am willing to pay. Though suggestions for free tools are also welcome.

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We evaluated several a while back and decided on http://www.helpndoc.com/ It creates the file formats you mention, as well as the bonus formats you request. The editor is not as WYSIWYG as some, but uses your own or pre-defined "paragraph formats" (headers, sub-headers, paragraph-body). It easily moves topics outline-style in the Table of Contents, and each page can be included in "All" builds or only the "TechSupport" or only the "UserDoc" builds (or in your case, the "English" or "Arabic" build -- it does not translate, you would create a separate page for each language). Unsure about "version control" unless you want to include secondary pages to only include in build "Ver3Eng" or "Ver3Ara" or similar. When you decide to build, you choose which "page types" to include in this build, and type of build you're creating (HTML, PDF, CHM). Free trial or personal use; I think the purchase price was about $250 per seat.

  • Looks promising on first glance, I will have a review of the free trial when I get a chance, thanks for the suggestion – musefan Jan 5 '16 at 12:12
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HelpMaker is a Help Authoring Tool to make WinHelp, HTML-Help, HTML-Website and RTF (i.e., manuals) files. HelpMaker is fully functional GUI help authoring tool written in Delphi. Many open-source developers use this to document their open-source project.

  • Doesn't look to have any documentation or feature list. Does it meet my requirements of version/change control and multi-language support? – musefan Oct 30 '15 at 11:24

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