How do Atlassian write and publish their Confluence documentation?

We have been using an in-house Confluence instance to edit our product documentation for some time now. Due to licensing restrictions, we have been exporting this documentation to HTML and then publishing it via an Eclipse IDE help center running on a Tomcat application server. We are now thinking about moving away from this as it is time consuming to export the HTML from Confluence, process it and re-publish it. Instead, we are looking at using Confluence OnDemand for our documentation needs, i.e. editing and publishing solely using Confluence.

With this in mind, I am interested in finding out how Atlassian currently write and publish their Confluence documentation. Some years ago we found a blog written about how Atlassian used spaces to manage different documentation sets for different versions of the same documentation - we emulated this for our needs and currently have a "draft" space which we use for documenting the new release. At release time, this draft space is cloned using the Copy Space Plugin and the clone is named with a product version number. The draft space then continues for the next release and the clone is updated for Service Packs.

I'm interested in finding out if Atlassian still use this method to manage their documentation or if anyone (particularly those using Confluence OnDemand) can contribute how they use Confluence for their documentation needs. Is the use of spaces still the best way to manage the documentation life cycle or are their alternatives?

6 answers

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Davin Studer Community Champion Dec 02, 2014

Spaces is really the best way to handle documentation versions. Keep in mind if you are going from an in-house Confluence instance to a hosted one that any user macros that you may have and most marketplace add-ons will not be available to you in a hosted version.

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Hi James,

Atlassian is using Scroll Versions to manage their documentation.

They are working on multiple versions in a private master space and publish the versions once the new software release is released to a public space (for example the docs of the AOD space are managed in multiple smaller spaces but are all published to this space when a new version is shipped).

You can find further information in a Customer Story we created some weeks ago and have a look at this Interview with Rachel Robins from Atlassian at this years Summit.

Unfortunately Scroll Versions is not yet available for Confluence Cloud, but we've already tracked this in our JIRA system: https://k15t.jira.com/browse/VSN-1828

Please feel free to vote / watch the issue.

If you have any further questions about the process, please let me know.

Cheers,
Nils

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You might want to reach out to Robert Kennedy or James Turcotte at CA Technologies. Maybe contact them through LinkedIn with reference to this question. They are managing 100s of documents in Confluence wiki, with added automation. 

https://communities.ca.com/thread/241695430 

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/article/20140911020510-10335988-the-ca-technologies-docops-platform-phase-1

If you are serious about this, Confluence Cloud may be too limited for your needs, imho. The server version allows for key add-ons and integrations important to the doc lifecycle. 

That said, however, Bob Swift's site is pretty stellar for an onDemand example:

https://bobswift.atlassian.net/

If just getting going, Confluence Cloud might be just fine for a while.

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Hi,

good point about the CA approach, Justin.

There will be a free webinar on December 16, showing the use case of CA and how they Broke the Rules with Their DocOps Approach to Agile Technical Content.

Maybe that's from interest for you.

Cheers,

Nils

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Hi James,

As you are using Confluence Cloud I thought you may be interested in Instant Websites for Confluence Cloud which may assist in your scenario. We are using it for our documentation.

Happy to chat if you're interested in learning more. +1 415 568 7064.

Cheers,
Nick, Arijea 

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Thanks both. Scroll Versions seems to be a powerful and innovative way to manage documentation versions - pity that it is not yet available in the cloud.

I guess that leaves using spaces as the alternative - exactly as we are doing now - which means we will absolutely need to to be able to clone entire spaces in the OnDemand instance. I note that the Copy Space Plugin that we use on our in-house instance (and that is not actually supported by Atlassian) is not available for the cloud - although I did find this alternative: Copy Space Plugin - has anyone used this with any success? it suggests that there is a 50 page limit - but this can be increased on request (our doc space is around 500 pages and our tech knowledge base is around 800 pages)...

Davin Studer Community Champion Dec 03, 2014

Another option that you can use is Bob Swifts Confluence Command Line Interface. You can copy spaces with it and it will work with the OnDemand version. https://bobswift.atlassian.net/wiki/display/CSOAP/Documentation#Documentation-copySpace

Thank you - that's useful to know as well.

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