Skip to content

Skills and Technologies Survey – Technologies

Posted in Uncategorized

The 2013 WritersUA Skills and Technologies Survey

SkillsTechnologiesPlatformsSurvey Home

The use of technologies is a defining element in the identity of software user assistance professionals. Enhancing a product’s usability requires transforming our words and ideas into digital form using a variety of technologies. In our survey we provided a list of popular user assistance technologies and asked the respondents to value the importance of those technologies in their current development efforts.

The technologies we presented to the survey respondents are broad solution technologies as opposed to specific file formats. For example, Microsoft’s HTML Help provides a comprehensive solution to user assistance in the Windows environment, while HTML is a technology that gains value only when used in conjunction with a broader technology like HTML Help or browser-based Help. Our work with foundation technologies like HTML, XML, and JavaScript are dealt with specifically in the Skills section of the survey.

Support for manuals in the form of PDF (82%) is at the top of the list as the most valued technology component. Using PDF as a delivery format has become a staple in our documentation sets. PDF files can be delivered on an installation CD or via the Web. In the past, this technology was mainly used for legacy print documents like user guides, and also for supplemental white papers and troubleshooting information. Today we find many organizations using PDF files as the primary distribution format for product documentation.

The use of browser-based Help (73%) continues to be very popular with our respondents placing it second. The lure of displaying content in a web browser window seems to offer enough positive value for us to favor it over more feature-rich, platform-specific proprietary Help systems. This form of content delivery uses standard and non-standard Web technologies to deliver Help content through Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, Chrome, and other browsers. Implementation strategies run the gamut from using basic HTML pages to proprietary solutions, such as WebHelp and WebWorks Help, to complex renderings employing custom JavaScript and HTML5/CSS.

The World Wide Web (64%) continues to be a key element of our user assistance as evidenced by the strong showing in the survey. This includes content that is distributed through the public Internet and private intranets. Until recently, the Web was primarily used as a supplement to online Help and printed manuals. As we move increasingly toward Web-based applications and ubiquitous broadband Internet connections, server-side deployment of user assistance via the Web is becoming a hot topic in many tech pubs departments. So the Web is filling more than one role.

Traditional documentation components such as quick reference materials (57%), knowledge-bases (45%) are still valued highly by over half of respondents. Microsoft HTML Help (29%) and Paper-based manuals (22%) have significantly dropped in popularity.

Collaborative technologies like discussion Forums (27%), Wikis (29%), and Interactive Helpers (18%) have maintained the same level of popularity.


Detailed Results

Here is the complete list of skills presented in the survey. They are separate into functional groups. The percentages are of responses rating a technology as “Very Valuable” or “Invaluable”.

Microsoft Help Systems Table

System Response Percent
HTML Help 1.x (.chm) 29%
WinHelp (.hlp) 2%
Help 2.x for Visual Studio (.hxs) 5%
Help Viewer 1.0 for Visual Studio (.mshc) 2%


Other Help Systems Table

System Response Percent
Browser-based Help
(WebHelp or any HTML/XML-based Help content displayed in a browser)
Eclipse Help 6%
JavaHelp 6%
Oracle Help for Web 2%
Apple Help 3%
Oracle Help for Java 2%


Manuals (User, Admin, Installation, or Reference Guides) Table

Manual Response Percent
PDF manuals 82%
Print (distributed on paper) 23%
Epub 11%
Kindle 5%
iBook 4%
Mobi 2%
XPS 1%


Other Delivery Technologies Table

Technology Response Percent
World Wide Web or intranet content 64%
Quick reference (Reference cards, Getting Started guides, release notes, job aids) 57%
Multimedia tutorials (Video, Flash, simulations) 48%
Knowledge bases (web-based repositories for reference information) 45%
Forums (discussion groups, blogs, Twitter) 27%
Wikis 29%
Interactive helpers (wizards, troubleshooters) 18%
Social sites (Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, etc.) 10%
RSS feeds 8%


Other delivery technologies mentioned by respondents: Adobe AIR and proprietary solutions.

A number of respondents mentioned specific tools. We keep tools in a separate Tools Survey.


  1. 100731 914881This is truly fascinating, You

  2. 765664 494349camping have been the very best activity that we can have during the summer, i adore to roast marshmallows on a campfire` 515987

  3. 668242 630650This is how to get your foot in the door. 869461

  4. 169329 1518 There are some fascinating points in time in this write-up but I don

  5. 634364 949279educator, Sue. Although Sue had a list of discharge instructions in her hand, she paused and 558022

  6. 673510 62823really good post, i undoubtedly adore this superb site, carry on it 816284

  7. 52247 927914hi and thanks for the actual blog post ive recently been searching regarding this specific advice on-line for sum hours these days as a result thanks 690793

  8. 812855 863588Thank you for your extremely great info and respond to you. 349821

  9. 243238 533348Can you give me some suggestions for piece of software writing? 195289

  10. 572723 328945Following study numerous the websites together with your website now, and that i genuinely appreciate your method of blogging. I bookmarked it to my bookmark website list and are checking back soon. Pls have a look at my web page likewise and let me know in the event you agree. 373605

  11. 811332 706550Wow ~ Very good stuff ~ Come and look at MY ?? 259064

  12. 795598 365699I used to be recommended this internet internet site by my cousin. I

  13. 936285 201570An fascinating discussion could be worth comment. I feel you must write on this subject, it may possibly surely be a taboo topic but normally men and women are not enough to dicuss on such topics. To a higher. Cheers 492245

  14. 949223 870944The vacation particular deals offered are believed as a selection of possibly the most preferred and therefore within your budget all more than the globe. Quite quite a few hostels can be proudly located inside property which is accented who has striking seashores encouraging crystal-clear rivers, contingency of an Ocean. hotels compare rates 944502

  15. 238899 956251You are the top, It is posts like this that maintain me coming back and checking this internet site regularly, thanks for the information! 274831

  16. 381623 215801Can I just now say that of a relief to locate somebody who truly knows what theyre speaking about online. You actually know how to bring a difficulty to light and work out it crucial. The diet need to see this and appreciate this side on the story. I cant believe youre no more popular since you definitely possess the gift. 640965

  17. 646169 361591I came across this excellent from you out of sheer luck and never believe lucky enough to say also credit you for any job properly done. 745935

  18. 106353 257069When do you think this Real Estate market will go back in a positive direction? Or is it still too early to tell? We are seeing a lot of housing foreclosures in Altamonte Springs Florida. What about you? Would love to get your feedback on this. 763559

  19. 309092 822832I appreciate you taking the time to speak about them with men and women. 773437

  20. 796959 147073Finally, got what I was looking for!! I

  21. 911422 854870You created some initial rate factors there. I seemed on the internet for the difficulty and located many people will go along with together together with your web site. 146113

  22. 325187 9536This really is a excellent topic to speak about. Sometimes I fav stuff like this on Redit. I don

  23. 480641 96862This web page might be a walk-through like the data you wanted concerning this and didn

  24. 528120 916679Only a smiling visitant here to share the enjoy (:, btw excellent style and style . 116669

  25. 448104 418822I visited plenty of site but I conceive this 1 holds something particular in it in it 519186

  26. 430780 119495Some times its a discomfort within the ass to read what weblog owners wrote but this web site is really user friendly ! . 671900

  27. 905578 59970I conceive this website has very wonderful indited content material posts . 949570

  28. 138781 388118As soon as I discovered this internet website I went on reddit to share some of the adore with them. 794920

  29. 433436 437695I got what you mean ,bookmarked , very nice internet site . 678753

  30. 649263 889704Truly clear web website , thanks for this post. 720883

  31. 129639 909216You should take part in a contest for among the very best blogs on the web. I will suggest this web website! 602299

  32. 889166 654529Dead written articles , appreciate it for entropy. 203156

  33. 753563 679459This web site may be a walk-through for all of the details you wanted in regards to this and didn

  34. 55936 310265Some truly good content on this web site , appreciate it for contribution. 300530

  35. 103347 409526you use a great blog here! do you wish to have the invite posts in my small blog? 834507


Comments are closed.