Confluence 101


Posted by
Anand UNADKAT

September 6, 2016

What is Confluence?

We hear a lot about JIRA on the Valiantys blog and everywhere else, but Confluence is something that isn’t talked about quite as much. It’s easy to forget the power of Confluence because most of the time it’s used as a side tool for JIRA. So what exactly is it?

Confluence is an Atlassian tool that enables teams to create, organise and manage their work. It’s very easy to use Confluence as a documentation repository – but I would strongly recommend you not to do this! This is a classic mistake made by almost everyone – they start writing documentation in Word and add it as an attachment to Confluence. In reality, there’s absolutely no need for this, as you can build that exact document in Confluence to start with! Yes, there are occasions when documentation needs to be shared with external parties with company defined templates, but this isn’t a problem. You already have such a rich Marketplace for Confluence, so it’s easy to build templates from Confluence with add-ons.

Confluence features

Back in the day I wrote a blog comparing Confluence and Basecamp. Since then, Confluence has grown, with numerous new features added to it. Below are a few features that Confluence has added since the 2013 5.1 release. Want more? Take a look at the Atlassian documentation to find out about more features.

  • Smarter search
  • Better blueprints
  • Interaction with JIRA Service Desk
  • Ability to change usernames
  • Add comments to content for quick feedback
  • Hipchat integration
  • Confluence data center
  • Re-sizeable tables
  • CQL – Confluence Query Language

Use cases

There are several uses cases of Confluence and yes, they are not all development related! A lot of websites have been built using Confluence. Yes, you heard me, I said websites! Atlassian has actually provided real life examples of companies that have used Confluence to build their websites – these  can be found in their documentation. In fact, you’ll notice that all Atlassian documentation is also built on Confluence data center! Sticking to their roots of course 😉

Below are a few use cases of Confluence:

Technical documentation

This is one of the most common use cases. Here you add documentation about your product and its functionality, architecture etc. This documentation helps users to understand the inner and outer dependencies of the product. A classic example of this types of documentation is Atlassian Documentation. Here you’ll see the way they structure their content in sections such as getting started, releases etc.

Knowledge base

This is another use case that Confluence can be utilised for. With the release of JIRA Service Desk,  you can easily connect a Confluence space to a portal for users to search the knowledge base without having to access Confluence. With newer releases of Confluence, you have a knowledge base space blueprint that you can start from and create how-to articles.

Intranet

An Intranet is a central part of the wheel for any organisation. It contains a rich library of company information which needs to be easily accessible and user friendly for end-users. Confluence makes this easy with its new search features. Also. the ability to share content such as company procedures, specifications and important files makes collaboration a piece of cake with Confluence.

Software teams

Another classic example where software teams use Confluence to document their project work, from product requirements and sprint retrospectives to release planning. In-built templates make it easy for end-users to start documenting these without having to think or define a structure of how content should be laid out.

Marketing teams

Marketers can use Confluence to define their goals, procedures, blogs, social media plans and more, before easily share with their team. Here they can also collaborate with software teams to plan out the marketing aspects of new product releases.

HR teams

The HR team can define its on-boarding and off-boarding procedures, as well as all the other procedures that can be shared across the whole company as part of the intranet. This can include company policies such as wearing shorts as work (unless you are a strict smart wear company, of course).

The above are just a few use cases – Confluence can be used for a whole lot more. So what are you waiting for? Unleash the power of Confluence in your organisation! What’s more, we are always here to help.