RE: MadCap Nightmare

Subject: RE: MadCap Nightmare
From: "Barbara Vega" <BarbaraV -at- libertyims -dot- com>
To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 10 Aug 2006 10:58:05 -0700

To answser some of the reactions to the rant person,

Like the rant person we too are having unreal problems with Flare and we
totally understand about the 1.0 thing and yes we have been to support
many many times. You should see my "MadCap Support" folder. They are
SUPER responsive, to their c4redit and very nice and friendly. But
unfortunately many of the higher level things they don't seem to be able
to solve. At least not right away and we are under the gun.

It is like the saying "Every time I move I lose

Someone said, "try the demo before you buy" we did but most of the
higher level features, as it was a new product, were on the drawing
board. We had to take their word for it. And the "Sneak Peek" version
turned out to be "greeked" in its output so we really couldn't get a
true picture from even that. (That was a surprise also.)

We are under a deadline and I can't go into details now but truly even
my new mgr is aghast at the things we keep running into. We finally had
to go back and do all sorts of workarounds now because of this - truly -
I could give details and reference names but can't because this is a
public list.

We have been all involved in tech support - so much so that we know them
by name - again they are truly very responsive and have solved many
things but some of the readblocks are killing us and just don't seem
excusable - in terms of bugs. Even my new mgr just recently said "This
just doesn't seem right - there doesn't' seem to be an excuse for this."
We are one step away from going back to Robo.

Again, To their credit they are very responsive and nice, but many
things fail to be solved - the critical things

We sent the project to them but their legal dept had a problem with a
section and now it is hung up between our legal depts so we documenters
are caught in the middle so I am just doing workarounds trying to get
this release out.

I know that 1.0 versions - you are always like a "Quality Control"
person for them - and to their credit yes there are tons of really nifty
features in Flare which I adore. To be fair. I am really trying to be
fair. But some of the bugs are truly surprising me (try doing linked
TOCS - then external links - or linked helps in chm format on a network
drive - to be exact!) Also the other documenter here tells me that
webhelp FT Searching is very slow and the relevance seemed odd on 2 and
3 word searches in her anaysis.

You may be feeling some of my residual frustration from early in the
week - but still

End of rant

Barbara Vega
Sr Documentation Specialist

-----Original Message-----
From: techwr-l-bounces+barbarav=libertyims -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
[mailto:techwr-l-bounces+barbarav=libertyims -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com] On
Behalf Of Mike Hamilton
Sent: Thursday, August 10, 2006 10:47 AM
To: Frank Ellifsen; techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Subject: RE: MadCap Nightmare

*** Tool Vendor Post ***

Hi Frank,

I hope that your anonymous friend feels better now. :0)

There wasn't much factual detail there for me to try and help with, but
please extend my direct email address to your friend (
mhamilton -at- madcapsoftware -dot- com ).

We pride ourselves on the strides that we have made with Flare and we
have been extremely responsive to user needs having not one, but two dot
releases since we first released Flare. Honestly, some of what your
friend has to say is the first I have heard of those issues (vague as
they are). Have your friend contact me, and we can dig into more detail.
If it is a knowledge problem I will help your friend through the
learning curve. If it is truly a Flare problem we will then get it
reported, logged, and scheduled for a fix.

The one caution that I do have in using the above email address though
is that I do fit items like this in where I can so there may be days
where I am unable to respond to emails (like yesterday), but if people
are patient I will help them through.

Mike Hamilton
V.P. Product Management
MadCap Software


From: techwr-l-bounces+mhamilton=madcapsoftware -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
on behalf of Frank Ellifsen
Sent: Thu 8/10/2006 8:59 AM
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Subject: MadCap Nightmare

List members, I've been asked by a friend to forward this message to the
list. My friend wishes to remain anonymous, and I offered to post the
message on her/his behalf.

Please do as the poster requests and send all replies to the list.


-----Forwarded Message------

Fellow Techwr-lers!

Sorry for the anonymous post, but I don't want this to come back and
haunt me somehow (you know it will).

Let's outline a few details first. I'm a current user of MadCap Flare. I
will admit that this is my first Help tool experience, so you should
take my comments with at least that much salt. However, I am an
experienced tech writer and know enough about Help to feel I can offer
relative criticisms. At the very least, I know that my experiences
mirror the experiences of other MadCap users.

I have been interested in MadCap's proposed suite of documentation
products. It appears to me that they are making a run at capturing the
tech writing market. It also appears to me that there is enough hype out
there to get them most of the way there just on word-of-mouth. That's
cool. I haven't seen a company generate this much hype since Google. I'm
rather pleased that a company has taken such obvious interest in
providing for our needs.

Here's my problem though:

AWAY FROM THE COMPANY YET! At the very least, I'm amazed that people
haven't even made many negative comments about it yet. So far, the tech
writer community has been largely silent. If Ford or Honda or any other
automaker produced a car with as many problems as Flare, they'd have
customers and government agents swarming over the gates with rioting and
pillaging on their minds!

And I'm not talking about minor "that button didn't work" kinds of bugs.
I'm talking MAJOR bugs. Crashing bugs, data loss, etc. For example, the
dictionary used by the spell checker randomly turns on and off (usually
off). You can't designate conditional text without running the risk of
having your information deleted or modified (that has happened to me on
dozens of occasions). And the UI doesn't always do what it says it's
doing. And yes, I know there are workarounds, but WHY SHOULD I PAY $700

Then there are the design issues. Every time you create a new folder,
MadCap automatically closes all of your folders. You can't have two
projects open simultaneously. And what is up with all the files and
folders? I tested that once. I created one file in one project and that
was the entire project. When I checked it out, MadCap had created
hundreds of files and folders. Ridiculous.

But the biggest thing for me is that when you are manipulating text
(typing, deleting, moving your cursor) everything freezes. You have to
"guess" when you've deleted the text you wanted to delete or you have to
hit the delete key one time for each character to be deleted. Same with
typing. If you type fast, MadCap goes into freeze mode until it catches
up to your strokes. But the most frustrating ones are deletions.
Sometimes delete removes whole lines of text, single characters,
paragraphs, pages, or even nothing at all. Then there's the problem that
MadCap doesn't easily let you get into the html coding and manipulate
the code itself (Yes, I know that it is really XML, so don't point out
the "mistake"). It basically assumes that you know jack about html and
forces you to go through the editor. Well, I DO KNOW HTML!!!! I can
readily see problems that would be easy to fix, but I have to fiddle
with the editor for 20 minutes to figure it out. MadCap also seems to
insert random html tags (<p> tags in particular) that are hollow and
serve no purpose but they DO screw up your formatting. It also
*magically* inserts pseudo-spaces in place of real spaces, and that
throws your final output layout for a loop (random line breaks
everywhere). I spend more time searching my help files for pseudo-spaces
and other "added formatting" than I do any other single task outside of
the initial writing.

Personally, I would not touch a new MadCap product with a ten-foot pole.
In particular, I would not touch a MadCap product that involved such
delicate processes as image manipulation, document design, and fonts
with a 10,000-foot pole.

In other words, yes, MadCap does appear to be on the cusp of capturing
the documentation market. But that scares me. MadCap has proven itself
to be unstable, mediocre, and disappointing. That being said, I do
believe that MadCap will improve. It has to if it wants to be here next
year. I do think that MadCap has the potential of being the future of
technical writing. BUT IT IS NOT THE PRESENT! And it has a very long
road to walk before it ever makes it there. I personally will never buy
a MadCap product on its initial release. I'll wait for version 2. I also
actively advocate against that move. I see no reason to waste my time on
these bugs and problems when I have access to a wide variety of stable,
functional products at a fraction of the MadCap pricing.

There, the gauntlet has been thrown. Go ahead and tell me I'm an idiot,
and I'll go back to sulking in my corner while MadCap goes feral on my
Help files. Even better, if you use MadCap tell me your own problems
with the software and how you've solved them.

Reply straight to the list please. I may never see your responses

--Mad at MadCap!

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RE: MadCap Nightmare: From: Jessica Weissman

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