On September 28th 2017, we met at TEA Time Brewpub in Krakow for the second ever meeting of the Polish MadCap Flare User Group (PLFUG). The theme was Flare Stories – and the attendees really rose to the challenge.

The purpose of PLFUG is not to listen to talks and speeches, but to meet and share experiences. That’s why even if somebody comes to the front of the room to use the projector, they aren’t the only speaker. People in the room ask questions, make suggestions and give advice. This makes for an interesting experience every time.

Migrating to Flare

Marcin told us about the method he worked out when his company was moving documentation from MS Word to Flare. He taught himself to code so he could automate the shift. His method started with some Word macros which prepared the document. Then, an algorithm extracted images and visually compared them to create a single-source library. Finally, CodedUI clicked through Flare menus to conduct the import.

The story was inspiring in two ways. First, it showed how a seemingly impossible task can be made easier thanks to automation. Secondly, it showed a technical writer who learned enough programming skills to make a difference.

Some Flare projects are too big!

Piotr told us about a genuinely large Flare project which produces about 8,500 HTML topics. Maintaining a project like that is not a trivial task and Piotr’s team know it. In fact, they had to come up with solutions to many problems. This made for a light-hearted “Top 10 Problems and Solutions” list which. It kept people switching from laughing at the surprising problem, to saying “ah-ha” at the ingenious solution.

This also prompted some group members to talk about problems they faced and how those were solved. We would list them all here, but we would rather people come and talk in person. However, we may publish a compendium of problems and solutions at some point, so stay tuned.

You can do so many things with Flare

Michal from 3di talked about the various projects he worked on and how Flare was used. In one project, he used a master project and child projects from multiple SVN repositories. In another, he used four language versions of one project to build a single multi-lingual PDF. In multiple projects, he used Jenkins to automate builds.

Networking

We spent the rest of the meeting just talking about work and then just anything really. It’s good to know others use Flare too and they share a lot of the same pains. And a lot of the same joys.

See you next time

Stay tuned for more events, we will be organising them regularly. And join the Facebook group, if you haven’t already.

And in the meantime, if you have topics you would like to talk about, let us know in the comments below.