This month has been a fairly expensive month for Red Robot Media. Up until now, our software investments have included things like FreeAgent and Basecamp – in other words, cloud services which involve rolling monthly subscriptions. This month, we’ve invested a lot of money in old-fashioned software for technical authoring.
Why We Chose Madcap Flare
Technical writing tools don’t come cheap, and annoyingly, they don’t often appear for the Mac in a usable form. After trying a few cheap Mac alternatives (and a few cheap Windows alternatives too), we decided to invest in the best and grab extra copies of Parallels and Windows 7 to make sure we could always work in Windows when we need to. My four year old iMac is not too happy about running Parallels with Windows 7, though, so perhaps an upgrade is on the cards.
Anyway, we’re now using two industry-standard technical authoring tools: Adobe RoboHelp (which I’m already trained in) and Madcap Flare. We think Flare is the best way to make sure the user guides and manuals we create can be efficiently single-sourced, but RoboHelp is useful as a backup. I’m more used to RoboHelp, but Flare is the software I find easiest to use.
We decided to invest in the entire MadPak suite so we could also try Capture for screenshots and see how it fares against SnagIt, which is my current favourite tool for screen captures. MadPak is expensive, but we got a great deal with maintenance that will have us set up for a good while yet. I haven’t actually purchased SnagIt from TechSmith yet, but I’ve been a loyal Jing user for years. I’ve recently found SnagIt much more useful because it allows you to time-delay a capture, meaning your mouse pointer can be included in the shot, and you can open any menus or drop-downs you need to show. That saves lots of time annotating screenshots, which is a godsend in itself. I also love the fade out effect that makes cropped screenshots appear very tidily on screen.
Mathew has been using Camtasia Studio 7 for most of his screencasting, but has also just completed a project in BB FlashBack Pro, a screen recording package from BlueBerry Consultants. Next, he’s going to try Madcap Mimic which came as part of our MadPak purchase.
We’re really enjoying trying out all these new technical writing tools. What are your favourites? And have you found a good Mac alternative to Madcap Flare?