by Sheila Loring
The North Carolina FrameMaker User’s Network (NCFUN), which became a STC Carolina special interest group, formed over a decade ago to support technical writers in the Raleigh/Durham area. Speakers (local and international) presented on everything from complex autonumbering and FrameMaker plugins to single sourcing and using reference pages. We usually had a topic for beginners and more experienced FrameMaker users.
During the meeting, users had the chance to get advice regarding problems in FrameMaker. We also had the obligatory snacks and refreshments — not to be underestimated, especially with one sponsor who always served delicious food.
The group also had its own mailing list. Users emailed questions between meetings, and we also sent meeting announcements to the list.
I write in the past tense because the group no longer meets. Over the years, attendance dwindled to a group of 10 and then 5 and then 3 regulars. It became more difficult to get speakers, and toward the end, the few regulars just talked (also not to be underestimated, but still…). I missed having this intimate FrameMaker resource. At every meeting, I learned something and had good geeky fun.
What happened? Did other FrameMaker resources become easier to use? For example, Framers is a very active mailing list with hundreds (maybe over a thousand) subscribers and anywhere from 5 to 20 messages a day. The group has a mailing list, whose archives are a bit difficult to search but are accessible through Google.
Did the time or location make the meeting difficult to get to, were fewer technical writers using FrameMaker, or did the topics no longer have wide appeal?
I suspect the answer is all of the above. Attendance at other STC Carolina special interest groups has also dwindled, and now none of them meet on a regular basis. Perhaps our members had too many groups to choose from each month and just gave up.
Ironically, now that I’ve been working on some non-FrameMaker projects, I’m less interested in the group, but I’d still like to see what other FrameMaker users are up to. Someone’s always using FrameMaker in a creative way.
Have user groups in other parts of the world gone the way of the NCFUN?