Re: Good authoring tool for multiple formats

Subject: Re: Good authoring tool for multiple formats
From: Janet Swisher <jmswisher -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: Justin Kelley <jkthiel36 -at- yahoo -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 12 Jan 2010 12:23:24 -0600

On Tue, Jan 12, 2010 at 9:13 AM, Justin Kelley <jkthiel36 -at- yahoo -dot- com> wrote:
> I was wondering what authoring tool other writers/groups are using out in the marketplace for a situation similar to my group's. We produce html source files for a server-side scripting application; we're currently using appweb, although I believe we are changing to apache. Our team wants to produce both html (webhelp) output and pdf, and possibly other formats. What authoring tool would fill the bill here? I'm looking at Xmetal and xmlOxygen. My development team has asked that we try to find a tool that can allow scripting so we could produce localized versions of the help very quickly. One of the developers asked that we find a Python-based scripting tool that could produce PDFs. Do any of the tools I've mentioned allow this? Is Madcap Flare a possibility? We even started looking at FLOSS, although since it's open source, we're not sure about the support for it.

Hi Justin,

There are many tools that will produce both web-based help and PDF,
including Madcap Flare, Adobe RoboHelp, Author-it, FrameMaker with
ePublisher or Mif2Go, and many others. You might want to look at to see what's available that meets your

If you are looking at XML editors, then you also need to decide what
XML format to use. DITA is gaining ground among tech pubs groups, and
has the DITA Open Toolkit for generating output. Take a look at

DocBook is an older XML format, more book-oriented than DITA, but also
can go to HTML with the DocBook Toolchain.

If you're looking for Python scripting of an XML editor, Serna has a
Python API as well as a C++ one.

A non-XML option is a Python-based tool called Sphinx, which generates
HTML and PDF from source files in reStructured Text format (a
wiki-like plain-text mark-up syntax). It's
open source, with an active mailing list and a very responsive primary

You say you've looked at "FLOSS". Can you be more specific? There's
not one thing called "FLOSS", which is short for "Free/Libre
Open-Source Software". Or are you thinking of "FLOSS Manuals"
( That site is only for documentation of
open source software, so assuming you're working on a proprietary
product, that's not an option for you. The FLOSS Manuals project is
working on "Booki", the next incarnation of their platform, which will
be an open-source web application (vs. the current site, which is just
one wiki instance). However, it will default to using open licenses,
so there probably won't be support for proprietary users.

Oh, and to answer your original question, at my job we use DITA with
Oxygen and DITA-OT, and also DITA2Wiki
( to publish to a
Confluence wiki.

Hope that helps get you started.

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Good authoring tool for multiple formats: From: Justin Kelley

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