Building Help Pages

I’m looking for some advice for a tool suitable for building help pages for our latest web application.

The application is large and developed by a team of .net developers. They have built into each screen a help button that can have a url stored against it.

We need a tool that can be used by a business analyst or technical author (not designer or programmer) to create help pages. These have no web skills but are expert Word users.

The tool should allow pages to be created as topics, automatically index the keywords and phrases in the pages, allow the pasting and annotation of screen images (adding callouts), run on IIS (asp.net preferred).

The resulting content needs to be able to be styled to match the application (although we could get a developer to create templates).

Any suggestions?

We’re pretty satisfied with Help & Manual. Windows application, XML-based, can produce HTML pages, HTML Help (CHM), PDF, easy-to-use. It even looks like Office 2007. Disadvantage: single-user, no version history.

Sounds like you need either a CMS or a custom admin tool.

CMS tools like Adobe Contribute are nice for non-programmers to use since the interface is more familiar and they function more like Word, but I’m not sure how they would interact with your application/site. However, from a developer’s perspective, Contribute is a hassle if you need to go back and edit pages yourself because it adds a lot of junk code.

As far as I know, there is no CMS (Contribute, Dreamweaver, etc) that will automatically pick up keywords. I’ve only seen that done in custom admin tools, which usually generate the keywords based on the page title.