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How do we get Flare to stop modifying .gitignore?

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We use Madcap Flare for our documentation, and the project is checked into git. (In case this matters, this is a locally-hosted git server, not GitHub.) The project uses a .gitignore file to avert commits of output files and assorted Flare byproducts that don't belong in source control.

We do not use Flare's source-control interface and the project is unbound from git. People use git clients (mostly TortoiseGit) to interact with git, not Flare.

Yet, Flare sometimes modifies .gitignore. Sometimes people catch this before committing, which is a little frustrating, but sometimes they don't and it gets to a pull request before a reviewer catches it and the person has to remove it. We know we can use a git hook to block those commits, but we'd like to fix the root problem if we can.

In our group we have both Flare 2019 and Flare 2020 in use, and currently only the people using Flare 2020 are having this problem, but we've had the problem in the past too, and an unanswered support thread from 2018 suggests the problem is older too. (I also found related discussion from 2016.) Our group isn't large enough to really establish a pattern here; Flare version might be a red herring.

Is there something we can do in Flare to get it to stop modifying .gitignore? It shouldn't be touching files that aren't part of the project, but it is. Sometimes. Unpredictably.

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2 comments

This isn't a real answer and I know nothing about Flare, but how about write-protecting .gitignore? That's not to solve the problem, but you might get more information about when and why Flare tries to write to it. Maybe it will barf up an illuminating error message or something. Olin Lathrop‭ about 1 month ago

@Olin thanks for the debugging tip! I hadn't thought of that. Monica Cellio‭ about 1 month ago

1 answer

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I received a response from Flare's technical support. There was a bug in Flare's git integration in some older versions (at least 2019r2; not sure how much farther back). This bug was fixed in Flare 2020, but the result is that if people are using mixed versions, as we are, then there's a tug of war between the Flare clients. So long as we were all on Flare 2019 the bug didn't manifest, but once some group members moved to 2020, we had a problem. Madcap strongly recommends that we all move to the latest version.

It's also possible that somebody still has git binding turned on -- or perhaps somebody upgraded and failed to turn it off again. (Flare upgrades don't transfer your settings, unfortunately; you have to start over. Which is why some of us never upgraded to 2020 -- too much hassle.)

In the meantime, write-protecting .gitignore locally, as suggested in a comment here, works.

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