What Wiki ? Manual Creation

Been searching for a solution to create a Staff Manual and host on our servers as simple HTML - need the ability to update easily. It is frustrating as I look at many manuals - help docs which come various applications which seem to do this with ease. I have not been able to ascertain how these were created and whether this might be affordable enough for me to consider.
I have used VoodooPad which is great and seems to be the front-runner - although the web export is not quite what I am after. Have looked at Screensteps and considered iBooks. There was an app called myManuals around a few years ago - but seems to have gone into hibernation.
I would like it to be able to perform as a Wiki so as to create links without relying on the TOC or having to manually configure.
Keen to hear from anyone who has put an instruction manual together and what applications/workflows were involved. It is possible I have overlooked something obvious.

Have you tried Bookstack?

It is fairly lean and does a lot of things right, especially in regards to user-friendliness (drag and drop of image uploads etc.). And you can always export as HTML, PDF or TXT.

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There are many tools that come at this task in different ways. I have used several over the years. It might be helpful to think about different aspects of a solution and what will and won’t work for you. For example:

  • Must the manual live on a server on your site (ie no cloud-based solution)?
  • Do you need others to be able to edit or write documentation as well as yourself?
  • Should the manual be viewable on mobile devices?
  • Is a “book” paradigm a must-have, or would a more freeform “knowledge-base” site work?
  • Beside web viewing, should the content be able to be provided in “document” formats like PDF or Word?
  • Should there be different “versions” of the manual available at once (ie for an older system and also a newer one)?
  • Should different content be provided to different “classes” of users? such as showing administrative information to privileged users

Criteria like these will help determine what kind of tool you should use. Wikis (Confluence, Bookstack (looks nice leo)), static website generators (jekyll), help authoring tools (Flare), online help/KB content-management system (Mindtouch) have different strengths & weaknesses on the above criteria. Most will generate/main TOC/links automatically.

Hope that helps. Right now I’m using a hosted Confluence wiki to provide policy & procedure info to staff at my company; it works but has its pros and cons.


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I’ve been looking at something like Notion.so and it seems it may fit? I’m not really familiar with wikis and that app yet, but could be worth at least perusing.

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We use Confluence from Atlassian. Maybe more than you need, but really great for our company wikis, AND the non-techies at my company have no problem using it.


In my previous company we used Confluence. It was powerful, and integration with JIRA worked brilliantly. I wasn’t a fan of its editor though. Formatting got messed up easily.

Notion.so seems to be a new favorite of many people. I tried it for personal use but haven’t used it for work-related projects.

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The manual could be cloud-based - this might give better access to mobiles. The plan is to have one author/admin - employees only need view access. I had imagined this would be more of a knowledge base format than a book. ( The OmniFocus Help document a great example )
Thanks for your comments and suggestions - Confluence seems like a top end solution, Jekyll feels like a solution for those who can code, Flare looks great but needs big pockets, Mindtouch seems more appropriate for a support kb rather than an Employee handbook or manual with screenshots etc.

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@DaveT provided an excellent summary on things that are worth taking into consideration. There are several ways to narrow your options to find the solution that works best for you.

Confluence is a good company option for a wiki and I like its integrations with JIRA, but it takes some work setting up and you are not able to reuse content. If you are limited to one author/admin, then Confluence might be a bit much to handle.

Have you considered Paligo? If you want to take a topic-based approach, then Paligo would probably be a good candidate. It provides output to several different formats out of the box and you can configure the style sheets that determine the styling of the content yourself. It does come with a monthly cost, but then again, so does most software. It is hosted by Paligo, so you are not able to keep the content on your own servers though, so keep that in mind.

Another resource that would be worth looking into is: https://doctoolhub.com/.

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Thanks for all the ideas posted here. By way of an update, I am currently looking at a Mac store app called Help Crafter. I understand this was used to create the help file for Hazel. So far looking OK - but have noticed that HTML files exported to local will not show - needs to be hosted.

I haven’t used it for many years due to other corporate standards in those jobs, but Dokuwiki was where I started out with building wiki for collaborative documentation of systems and projects. It’s free, has minimal prerequisites and quite frankly, I enjoyed using it.

It might work for you and I think would be at least worth a quick look.

Thanks … not sure about the install - seems to need to be on a server …

You have to run a web server to have a collaborative wiki experience through the browser. Otherwise it is just files in a shared folder.

If you want a standalone wiki, there’s always Tiddlywiki.

Come to think of it, I used a tool called Piggydb for many years. It hasn’t been actively maintained for a couple of years, but it still works and you can always reach the developer on Twitter. It has a standalone package which can be opened in a browser as long as you have JRE installed.