West of Scotland area group meeting 25 March 2014: meeting report

The West of Scotland area group gathered on Tuesday 25th March for a networking meeting at the Waxy O’Connor’s pub in Glasgow city centre. We were pleased to welcome a couple of new people to the group and the meeting had a total of seven attendees, making it a relatively busy meeting. One of the main topics of conversation was how to get into technical communication if you have no previous technical writing experience. We also discussed topics such as whether formal technical communication qualificiations are important and how technical communicators fit into organisational structures. Free copies of the latest issue of the Communicator were handed out too, which proved popular.

Summary by Katja McLaughlin

Report on MadSIG Meeting 6th March 2014 Ripley

Nine of us met at 3di’s offices in Ripley on 6th March to eat cake, drink coffee and chat with friends.  Oh, and we may have had a meeting of the MadCap UK and Europe Users Group too, in between mouthfuls of cake and sips of coffee.

I explained how I’d single-sourced content for WebHelp and PDF output, and also for three different products and two different brandings. We had plenty of lively discussion, and learned a lot from each other. The following day also saw several attendees emailing each other to pass on hints and tips from their own experiences as a result of discussions that had taken place the previous evening.

We managed to link in two virtual callers as an experiment as well. This was reasonably successful, so we hope to do this again to enable people who can’t easily get to the venue to attend. Unfortunately, the cake and coffee transfer protocol still eludes us, so virtual attendees will need to provide their own cake and coffee for the foreseeable future.

We’re very grateful to 3di for allowing us to use their offices and facilities, and to 3di’s Erika Norton who gamely managed the presentation technology so that our virtual guinea pigs could participate as fully as the technology allowed.

Here are the slides from the presentation. To get the full benefit of the animations, I suggest you watch them as a slideshow, rather than just opening them in PowerPoint’s default editing mode.

If anyone would like to present a session about some aspect of how they use Flare or the other MadCap products in their work, please do get in touch. This is your group and the sessions will be as interesting as you make them. You don’t need to prepare a polished presentation – you don’t even need to use a single PowerPoint slide unless you want to – a short “show and tell” demonstration will be sufficient. You will find that people will be very willing to contribute to the discussion.

Keep a look out on our LinkedIn page http://www.linkedin.com/groups?gid=5081593 for details of the next event. If you’re a MadCap user in the UK and Europe, please join us on LinkedIn  if you haven’t already done so. Feel free to start a discussion about what you’d like from the group, or about any other group-related topic. You are very welcome to post there, but note that for general questions about MadCap Flare, you would do better to post on the world-wide LinkedIn group “Users of MadCap Flare” http://www.linkedin.com/groups/Users-MadCap-Flare-86373, or the MadCap forums http://forums.madcapsoftware.com/index.php, as your question will reach a wider audience.

Marjorie Jones


MadSIG Meeting, Thursday 6th March 2014, Ripley, Surrey

MadSIG will meet on Thursday 6th March 2014 at the offices of 3di in Ripley, Surrey, from 7pm onwards.  Marjorie Jones will explain how she uses MadCap Flare to single source various PDF and WebHelp outputs from the same project content. After that, there will be time for questions and discussion and also an opportunity to get to know each other and share our MadCap knowledge.

The event is free, but numbers are limited, so book your place and find out more details here: http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/madsig-6th-march-2014-tickets-10247294935.

We’ll be there from around 7pm, and the talk will start around 7.45pm. Coffee and cake will be available.  We’re planning to record this session and hope to make the recording available afterwards. We’re also hoping to extend the meetings to include some virtual attendees soon.

Anyone who uses the MadCap authoring products or is interested in finding out more about them is welcome.  You don’t need to be a member of the ISTC, so tell your colleagues!

For more information, contact madsig@istc.org.uk or find us on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/groups?gid=5081593&trk=my_groups-b-grp-v

From MadWorld to MadSIG (31st October 2013)

Six MadCap fans met at 3di’s offices in Ripley for the first MadSIG meeting to eat cake, drink coffee and talk about MadCap. Tom Brindley told us about his time at MadWorld 2013 which was held at the Hard Rock Hotel in San Diego in April this year.

We were all  envious of Tom, in those classy surroundings, with such  wonderful sessions about MadCap products (although there was a tools-agnostic stream too) and plenty of opportunities to rub shoulders with the gods at MadCap .  As one of the MadCap staff said during the conference, most tool vendors have users, but MadCap has groupies. You can see Tom’s slides here: http://www.istc.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/MadWorld-2013-slides-only.pptx

After Tom’s talk, we ate more cake to console ourselves about not having been there, and got to know each other a bit better. Several of us are sole authors, and it was lovely to hear about how others work with Flare.  In future meetings, we hope to share more of our experiences and tips and tricks with each other.

Tom also reminded us that as a group, we can lobby MadCap for features and bug fixes. In one of the sessions at MadWorld this year, Madcap asked “If you were project manager, what would be your must-have feature?”. Now, where do I start? As much as I love Flare, there are many things I’d like to see added to make it even more useful, and a few things I’d like to see changed, as well as some bugs I’d like to see fixed.

The group mentioned a few topics that we’d like to hear about in future meetings, including

  • Single sourcing for print and online
  • Sole authoring
  • Flare as a lightweight content management system
  • Flare vs DITA
  • Flare and Agile

Anyone who uses the MadCap authoring products or is interested in finding out more about them is welcome at MadSIG meetings.  If there’s a topic you’d particularly like to hear about, or if you have something MadCap-related you could share with us, please get in touch (details below). You don’t need to be a member of the ISTC to join us, so tell your colleagues!

For more information, contact madsig@istc.org.uk or find us on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/groups?gid=5081593&trk=my_groups-b-grp-v


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