Looking for more information about wikis? Want to learn the basics about Confluence? We've answered your questions:
What's a wiki?
Pioneered by Ward Cunningham, and named after the Hawaiian word for 'quick', a wiki is a website that makes it easy for anyone to contribute pages, and link them together.
Wikis are a type of social software that make it easy to communicate online. As simple to edit as it is to read, the wiki makes for the perfect online collaboration tool.
In recent years, wikis have become more and more popular: as repositories of programming wisdom, as social experiments, as massive online encyclopaedias, and increasingly as tools of savvy businesses, looking for a simple but effective way to share content and information both inside their organisation and out.
And that's where Confluence comes in.
What's so great about wikis anyway?
Wikis are simple, efficient tools for managing knowledge and collaborating. They're particularly convenient in today's busy and international workplace.
- They're easy to learn and use. Wikis aren't as complicated as other types of content management systems.
- With wikis, knowledge doesn't get buried in emails, locked into file systems, hard drives or servers, intranets or extranets, or closed in more specialised data management systems and knowledge management systems.
- Wikis are online so users can access, collaborate on, and share content, knowledge and files anytime, anywhere.
- Wikis are also exceptionally flexible. You can customize them and also connect a wiki to other applications, databases, and file systems.
- And, most wikis are a fraction of the cost of most enterprise software.
Why use a wiki?
A wiki lets you and your teammates collaborate online. It's easy, efficient, and intuitive to use. Every user gets a voice and everyone's contribution is seen, heard, and can be commented upon. In this way wikis improve and democratize communication -- no one misses the 'memo' and anyone can send it. Wikis get information to the right people -- important information (documentation, processes, ideas, communication, etc.) is available to the people who need it, not locked and buried in one person's in-box.
- Wikis make it easy to keep all your information current and accurate.
- Information stored in wikis is dynamic. With wikis, anyone can edit a page (however, with Confluence, administrators can control view, editing, and content privileges) so content is current.
- Wikis keep your information safe. It's virtually impossible to lose information. You can view changes made by different users or rollback to previous versions.
- Even as members of your team turn over and new employees are hired, the wiki can be an unbroken repository of knowledge that evolves with your growing organisation.
Who uses Confluence?
Pretty much any group, department or organization that needs to collaborate and/or share information or content can use a wiki. Here's a sample list of Confluence customers. As you can see, the list includes small and large organisations alike, and they're in just about every industry. Within organisations, the wiki is used by different groups to share information about projects, preserve knowledge for new employees, report on goals and outcomes, comment and collaborate on projects, and more.
What qualifies Confluence as an enterprise wiki?
In a nutshell, Confluence meets (and oftentimes exceeds) what enterprises, organizations, and businesses require. Confluence incorporates functionality appropriate for multiple users and groups. It's secure, so confidential information remains protected. With its fine-grained permissioning capabilities you choose who views and creates edits and comments on spaces and pages.
Confluence is intuitive and easy-to-use. You don't need to learn any new special languages: write in WYSIWYG ("what you see is what you get") rich text. More advanced users can opt to create content using Confluence's wiki markup.
Confluence is a web-based software. It runs on just about every application server and database. Confluence is extremely flexible and scalable for any size organization and offers numerous features for customization. Confluence provides full web service interfaces (SOAP and XML-RPC) for your applications or scripts to remotely update content, manage users, or administer individual spaces.
What does it mean to say that wikis create "transparency"?
Transparency is an important aspect of all wikis. Transparency enables communication and provides the playground for collaboration.
At Atlassian (the company that sells Confluence), they use Confluence as their intranet and give complete transparency between spaces and pages throughout the company. It allows people to stay in synch with the various projects in each team and cut down on the number of emails that people send. They've found cross-functional transparency a vital part of knowledge building and sharing within the company.
They do, however, recognize that in many instances it's helpful to limit permissions and access to different spaces and pages. Confluence lets you choose which users and groups should receive permissions to which spaces and pages.
How can Confluence be customised?
Just about everything in Confluence can be customized. Choose what you see by customizing the interface (colors, branding, layout, fields, navigation, etc.). Then select who can see it with the administration preferences (privileges, security). For specifics, check out the documentation. In addition, the Confluence developer community offers scores of free plugins to extend Confluence's capabilities.
Can I import data from another wiki?
Yes, they have developed a universal wiki converter. They've already written several 'converter packs' for popular wikis. You can also develop one for your wiki, or work with us to write the converter you need.
How has user feedback shaped the product roadmap?
Confluence customers are vocal, and that's a good thing. Whether it's over the phone, through email, in-person, or via the Atlasian support help desk, they receive lots of feedback. Over the years, customer requests have helped Atlasian shape product development. You can see a list of new features added and bugs fixed for every version of Confluence in their release notes.
Because their development cycle averages 6-8 product releases per year, many feature requests find their way into newer versions of the product. You can read other user's Confluence feature requests, add your own feature request, or vote on feature requests.
They can't guarantee that every feature request will be built into future versions, but they frequently review all of them. They also note their popularity according to the real-time voting results in JIRA. It's important to them that the product is meeting people's needs and wants.
What's the relationship between Confluence and open source?
Confluence has a number of open source components. That's one reason why they're always excited to discover the latest, solid open source technologies. Lots of their developers, partners, and friends are active members of the community, too. Since day one they've been donating free instances of Confluence to the open source community. Today Atlassian continues to actively support a large number of open source projects and groups, like Codehaus and OpenSymphony.
Does Atlasian have any partners?
Indeed, and they're located across the globe. Learn more about the Atlassian Partner Program.
Where can I get more information about Confluence and wikis?
Visit the Confluence feature tour or poke around CommonWiki. You can also join the active user community and their forums, which keep you up-to-date on Confluence and connects you to other users and interested parties of Confluence. For information on introducing Confluence to your organization and successfully growing wiki use, visit Wikipatterns.com.