Does your business already use Atlassian Confluence for in-house, and possibly external, communications? Do you need a technical writer who can log-in and get to work straight-away? Then please get in touch. I’ve been working in Confluence (as well as MadCap Flare) for a few years now, so know exactly how to deliver high quality wiki-style content.
I am restricted from showing much of my technical writing in Confluence due to non-disclosure agreements, but here is an example of a wiki-style page:
And here it is under the bonnet, where the magic gets made!
As you can see, on this particular page, I’ve used the Multiexcerpt macro, as well as a panel, some regular content, and there’s a HTML comment and some CSS too.
What are the Benefits of Writing Documentation in Atlassian Confluence?
Confluence is designed to be a collaborative platform, where lots of different people may edit or comment on pages to provide extra information. With customer-facing documentation, the chances are you will want to restrict permissions so that only a limited number of users can change it. Typically, I create or edit the ‘official’ version of the documentation that your customers will see. That way, you know your content is accurate and written to meet your customers’ needs. Then they can add comments that can be answered in the comments section or used to identify extra articles for a later version.
On the subject of versions, that is another clear benefit of Confluence. It provides an audit trail of changes to your documentation and you can archive versions, so reverting to older versions is simple. Being at Atlassian product, it also connects to JIRA for all those project-management tasks.
Content Re-use in Confluence?
One of the biggest criticisms of Confluence in the technical communication community is that it doesn’t have a great deal to offer in terms of content re-use. Granted, it is not as geared-up for content re-use as Flare, but it does have some single-sourcing capabilities that are often overlooked. I worked on a Confluence project where the documentation team (myself and another writer) used the Multiexcerpt plug-in to good effect. Taking a similar approach to that used in DITA, we created concepts, references, and tasks as separate Multiexcerpts that could then be inserted in different pages, as and where needed. With the tasks, we created separate multiexcerpts for each individual step, simply because of the amount of times each step was used in different processes. This meant that we were able to adapt to changes in the software more quickly, as we had created the content in one place, so it was one change to update the content in every single place it appeared.
That’s not to say it was all plain sailing. For this project, we were using Confluence Cloud. That caused problems, as even though the Multiexcerpt plug-in was originally advertised as working with Confluence Cloud, that didn’t prove to be the case. Before long, we ran into serious cache issues. So it is probably best to stick to using the Multiexcerpt plug-in on server versions of Confluence. (We had other issues with Confluence Cloud too, but that’s another story).
Technical Writer for Confluence Content
It goes against my copywriting training, but I’m going to end with a slightly negative point here – I’m a technical writer (and copywriter) and not a Confluence administrator. Setting up Confluence requires knowledge of databases and all other sorts of IT stuff that are not in my realm of expertise. I use Confluence to make high quality content for your products and services; you’ll need an administrator to set it all up.[/fusion_text][/fullwidth]