Author-It

3.3
(5)

Author-it has created an Enterprise Authoring Platform (EAP) that can help you achieve what most successful companies do in the 21st century: leverage information to meet business needs. If your company authors, localizes, publishes, and manages content, Author-it EAP can increase productivity and reduce costs across your teams.

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Author-It review by Jacqueline L.
Jacqueline L.
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Verified Current User
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"Using Author-it for User Guides, APIs and Release Notes"

What do you like best?

Author-it allows you to create standardized title pages, copyright notices and other formatting. Once everything is set up (which can be a painful process), you're in great shape for creating your docs. Once your Word and FrameMaker docs are entered into Author-it you can re-use sections easily. Changing it in one place changes every version of the same piece of text everywhere. This can save a great deal of editing, cutting and pasting.

What do you dislike?

Reading Word docs into Author-it can be a very painful process. Graphics must be entered individually with a number of steps required to make them the right size and format. I had to use both Visio and Paint to convert a graphic and make it AI-ready to import. Forget about trying to import Excel spreadsheets into AI.

Recommendations to others considering the product

It's good for vanilla type docs with fairly simple graphics and tables. Excellent for large pieces of docs that are repeated, like copyright pages and patent information. Not so good for complicated graphics and tables.

What business problems are you solving with the product? What benefits have you realized?

We're trying to use AI to create docs that can be converted to PDF's or used for HTML help. So far we haven't used the full capabilities of AI to create object-oriented docs.

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Author-It review by Sandra F.
Sandra F.
Validated Reviewer
Verified Current User
Review Source

"Author-it: For the Organized Mind. Or the Mind that Would Be Organized."

What do you like best?

Author-it forces you to organize your content and to plan how smaller pieces of text and graphics will fit into the big picture. It's a database, and it relies heavily on templates. These things make it easy to apply global changes to style and formatting, and to maintain consistency among different authors.

I like the flexibility. Author-it gives you many options for reusing content: embedded text, variables, and variants, as well as the basic technique of using the same topic in multiple "books."

The Support staff is wonderful - friendly, prompt, and thorough. Support is usually done via email; many of the staff are in Author-it's home country of New Zealand (18-hour time difference from the East Coast of US), although they do have US support staff if you really need to talk to someone on the phone, which in my experience has been rare. They also offer online chat, which I haven't really used.

I have rarely had technical problems; I have been using it for nearly six years and can't recall the database ever being down, unless one of our servers was having trouble.

My experience has been with HTML Pages, .chm, Word, and .pdf (by way of Word) outputs.

I just find it to be a fun tool, and I'm very fond of it.

What do you dislike?

Author-it is great for enforcing consistent standards. This means that it is not as flexible when it comes to playing with the appearance of a Help system. If you are someone who likes to experiment with formatting on the fly you might find Author-it's template system for styles confining. There is basically no such thing as manual formatting in Author-it. Every change to formatting has to be defined in a Style object.

It's easy enough to change things like font size or color as long as you do so through a Style object, but to get certain effects in Web-based or .chm Help - the most important in our case was image maps - you can't use Author-it. Author-it allows you to incorporate .js or .htm files, but the files themselves, unless you stick to the ones that are provided with your Author-it installation, would have to be produced separately in another tool. So if you are not content to stick with the templates Author-it provides, it helps to have some understanding of HTML, .css, and JavaScript. That being said, the Support staff have helped me with things like customizing an .hhp file (outside of Author-it) to modify .chm Help, even though these things may not specifically be Author-it questions.

It is good that the Support staff is wonderful; documentation leaves some things to be desired. When they moved from the 4.x release to 5.0 line, they actually removed a lot of very helpful information from the Knowledge Center (their web-based Help. You can still get to the 4.0 KC but I don't know how much longer this will continue. The training manual we were given when we started is poorly organized and difficult to search. And error messages, though I know how to interpret most common ones now through experience, and they are usually attributable to something I did and can easily fix, are neither user-friendly nor well documented.

For the past several years Author-it has been pushing their Cloud version. We have been using Author-it since 2009 and have the On Premises version. Because of the marketing push for Cloud I have fears that they will take On Premises away.

When we got Author-it, we were told it supported WinHelp, which was of value to us because we are stuck producing WinHelp for certain products, for technical reasons. The WinHelp Author-it supports is formatted in a way I haven't seen since the 90s - single pane - so we had to stick with RoboHelp for Word for our WinHelp. I know WinHelp is old but if they were going to say they supported it they should at least have supported the latest version of old. This issue probably concerns almost no one in the world except my department. :-)

Recommendations to others considering the product

The great thing about Author-it is that because it's a database, it enforces consistency and enables reuse of content.

Author-it gives you many options for reusing content: embedded text, variables, and variants, as well as the basic technique of using the same topic in multiple "books."

It can publish to Word, which makes it a good tool to have if you are working with reviewers outside the Docs team, since most of them will want to work in Word. It supports many other outputs, including TouchHelp.

I think it helps to have a fascination with the more technical side of Help authoring when you use Author-it. I like being able to make it do different things by incorporating Java scripts and .bat files. I have been using it long enough that I know how to interpret most error messages, but when I was first learning the product I would sometimes get errors when I tried to generate output that ended up meaning something simple, but were worded cryptically.

What business problems are you solving with the product? What benefits have you realized?

We produce Tech Manuals and Install Guides that share a significant amount of content but differ slightly across products. The products are often released together as a suite, so we are often generating multiple Tech Manuals and Install Guides within the space of a few weeks. Before we got Author-it we maintained the Install Guides in Word and the manuals in FrameMaker, and did a lot of copying and pasting, with multiple writers performing the same edit in multiple documents. It took a lot of planning, but I was able to break down the Install Guide and Tech Manual for each product into basic topics, using Author-it's embedded text, variable, and variant features to customize the topics for different products. Now, if we get a tech doc update that affects multiple products, we often only need to edit one topic. It takes a lot less time than before to apply feedback and re-generate these documents during a review cycle.

We do a similar thing with Help and User Manuals. That was less complex to implement because there we did not have the problem of topics varying slightly across a number of products. Since our User Manuals duplicate content from the Help, once the Help content has been updated, a User Manual can be generated in a few minutes. Much better than copying and pasting.

What Web Content Management solution do you use?

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Author-It review by Administrator in Computer Software
Administrator in Computer Software
Validated Reviewer
Review Source

"Great staff who are always helpful, but with some points of frustration with stability."

What do you like best?

The workflow for writers is excellent. Having a CMS output to Word is, surprisingly, an advantage because most writers can adjust or create a Word Template. Working in Ant or other language to update document appearance can be far more challenging.

What do you dislike?

Their SLA offers 99.9% availability. That still high for a SaaS platform. They should be striving for 99.99, which is standard. They don't do much of anything to announce updates or improvements. The process for setting up and configuring the application's many objects to interact correctly is extremely complex. Setting up security is cumbersome. I don't like that Word Macros don't work on the SaaS platform. The publishing engine can be buggy. I don't know how much effort they are putting into fixing these types of issues. I've submitted tickets but years go by without change.

What business problems are you solving with the product? What benefits have you realized?

We are able to manage a very large document set with both HTML Help and PDF components with a very small staff using AI. It now works with Mobile as well. Also we have started to use it for RFP processing.

Author-It review by Industry Analyst / Tech Writer in Consumer Electronics
Industry Analyst / Tech Writer in Consumer Electronics
Validated Reviewer
Review Source

"Very good solution when it works"

What do you like best?

Ability to easily re-use topics and see in which books those topics have been used, localize into over 30 locales, publish directly into different formats. Company is responsive and does its best to solve our issues.

What do you dislike?

Lack of direct interface with any decent layout tool for printing books on paper.

Poor quality Localize module which is now being redeveloped by Author-it to make it fit for purpose.

Total lack of user doc format for mobile devices being supplied despite a promise that it would be...

Recommendations to others considering the product

Good product if you need a CMS as well as an authoring tool. Test Localize FIRST before you buy it to make sure it fulfills your needs. NB. We do not use the reviewing module just now.

What business problems are you solving with the product? What benefits have you realized?

Production of several books with overlapping content, we needed a CMS as well as an authoring tool. Ability to localize from one set of en-gb source into multiple languages using our preferred vendor.

Author-It review by Industry Analyst / Tech Writer in Information Technology and Services
Industry Analyst / Tech Writer in Information Technology and Services
Validated Reviewer
Review Source

"It is very hard to learn but I enjoy the versatility of the output."

What do you like best?

Using common elements of text that can be stored centrally and reused.

What do you dislike?

Having multiple files and objects for every single graphic is cumbersome. Also, changing the look and feel of text elements has been difficult because they don't look the same in our dual outputs (.chm and .html). I don't feel much control over the look of the output, or maybe we just don't know how to change it, so it looks very bland.

Recommendations to others considering the product

Take a training class.

What business problems are you solving with the product? What benefits have you realized?

We are writing customer-facing online help and converting that to a user guide in PDF form. We can do both outputs with little or no intervention.

Kate from G2 Crowd

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