MadCap Flare User Groups bring together local technical writers and Flare users through their shared interest in expanding their use of Flare. The next post in our community spotlight series features Nathan Wolf, where he shares his experiences of starting the Raleigh-Durham MadCap Flare User Group.
When I attended my first MadWorld, I went in with the mindset to bring back a wealth of awesome tips and best practices to implement with my team. I certainly got that and more from my MadWorld experience. But what I didn’t plan on was meeting so many people who were members of Flare user groups. I wanted to take that same momentum from MadWorld and be able to chat with some other local users on an ongoing basis. After some digging, I realized there wasn’t a group in my Raleigh-Durham, NC area. With a little pep talk from user group members, I decided to change that fact.
Starting a Flare User Group
So I wanted to start a user group. Fantastic! I was pumped! However, I only met one person at MadWorld from Raleigh-Durham. I knew there had to be more, but where could I find them?
- MadCap Flare User Groups Slack workspace. The MadCap Flare User Groups Slack workspace is a community-driven resource that enables Flare users to connect and network with users in their area. With this resource, I was able was able to post to local and topic-specific channels to reach other local people that might be interested.
- MadCap Software Community Online. I requested to add Raleigh-Durham to the list on the local user group map.
- Users of MadCap Flare LinkedIn Group. I posted on LinkedIn announcing the group and our first meeting.
As we are still a newer group, we now have two meetings under our belt so far. The first meeting was just two people. After more people heard about it through the resources I mentioned above, we moved up to eight people for our second meeting (including a virtual participant).
The first Raleigh-Durham Flare User Group meeting.
Tips on Managing a User Group
Starting the Raleigh-Durham group has been a great learning experience and also a lesson in patience. Interested in starting a group in your area? Here are some things I’ve learned so far.
- Find a good place to chat with your members. Whether it’s a Slack channel, Google group, or good old fashioned email thread, use what works best for your members to communicate. You can talk about setting upcoming meetings, ideas/demos, or places to have your meetings.
- Put a stake in the ground. You can’t please everyone no matter how much you might like to. Find the best time/place/date that works best for the majority of people and go with that. Try to announce the meeting as far ahead of time as possible to post in different places to let others know about it.
- Let the group decide the meeting flow. Every group is different. Because our group is new, our first couple of meetings have been mostly meet-and-greets with no set agenda. We’ve had weekday lunch meetings because that’s what works best for us. For future meetings, we discussed doing some demos and sharing some example docs at the request of some members.
- Get advice from other user groups. There are other established user groups (most definitely including mine) that are more than happy to share experiences and tips. Get in touch on the Slack community I mentioned earlier. There is also an awesome User Groups table at MadWorld where you can pick our brains in person if you plan to attend the conference.
What Have I Learned So Far?
If there’s one thing I’ve learned, there’s always something new to learn. I’ve learned that I’m not alone in some of the challenges my team faces in trying to implement certain features. I’ve learned that there are many, and I mean many, different ways to do similar things. I’ve learned that we all use Flare differently and we can all benefit from each other.
For our meetings so far, we’ve gotten to know each other and discussed the various ways our documentation deliverables are set up. A few themes surfaced from our discussions already.
- Project Organization. Some people had inherited projects they didn’t set up while others were just getting started and were curious about best practices of setting up a new project.
- Multiple Writers. Many people had questions about how others teams work with multiple writers on a team. How do you organize your projects? How do you take advantage of source control?
- Modernizing Output. Quite a few people wanted to update their online output to a modern Top Nav or Side Nav design but were unsure of the best way to do so.
These meetings have been an inspiration for tips for my own workplace, as well as ideas to bring back to MadWorld to share with other users. In fact, from these discussions with other like-minded users and my own team, I’ll be returning to MadWorld 2019 San Diego as a speaker, presenting on how to refresh your project organization and design. If you plan on coming to MadWorld 2019, feel free to find me to discuss project organization, how to get involved in your own user group, or any other topic that comes to mind.
Get in Touch
Have more questions? Reach out to me by email, on the MadCap Flare User Groups Slack Community, or on LinkedIn. Even though we are a local group, we welcome virtual participants from anywhere as well if you’d like to join our next meeting. Check out and follow our blog for more information on upcoming meetings.