Hi everyone, this is a bit long, so thanks for bearing with me
I intern for the Institut fuer Rundfunktechnik, a broadcast TV research facility in Munich. We publish broadcast guidelines for TV stations throughout Germany, Austria and Switzerland, and we currently release them in PDF form.
We want to migrate our standards document to the web, and after researching numerous CMSs, a wiki like Confluence seems like a good option. None of us have used it before, though, so I wanted to hear from experienced users if Confluence seems like it could meet our needs.
Primarily, we need to be able to export the wiki to a PDF. Is one input source — Word, DITA or FrameMaker — more optimized for PDF output than another? We will likely use Word or DITA because no one here is familiar with FrameMaker, but we can learn it if that is the best option.
Also, we love ePublisher's versatility and customization options, but we're not sure if it's worth the price. Do Confluence's built-in importers have similar (or adequate) styling and customization for Word?
Finally, we are also thinking about simply authoring content within the wiki itself, so that multiple people can edit it remotely, but we were wondering if we would lose some of the styling options that we would have if we worked from Word or DITA.
Thanks a lot!
Confluence should definitely meet your described requirements. Per default Confluence has a basic export functionality, that works for basic use cases (e.g. if you only want to use one single template). Furthermore there are multiple Scroll Exporters out there to have more control about your format and the styling.
Using Scroll Office for example, you can simply create a normal MS Word template to match your CI, upload it to your Confluence system and all your colleagues can edit in Confluence and export this content in the same style to MS Word. Of course it's no problem to have multiple templates (either per space, or on global system level): If you want to create exports for specific customers you could also create customer specific templates.
With Confluence and Scroll Office you don't lose any styling options, but win the possibility to work collaboratively within the same tool remotely.
You can download a free trial of Scroll Office in the Atlassian Marketplace.
I hope that helps. If you have any further questions, please feel free to also contact us directly via email@example.com or feel free to answer in this thread.
So first off, Word and FrameMaker are two ways to layout a document, DITA is a way to organize kernels of text and can be applied to either, but is better supported in FrameMaker.
Confluence has the built-in ability to import Word files, and does so pretty well; maybe an 8 out of a 10. Simple documents import fine and more complicated ones will need a bit of restyling. On the other hand, if after perfecting a Confluence page, you then export it to Word, when others use it as something of a template, it will import really well.
FrameMaker plus ePublisher do make fine PDFs (better than Confluence) and HTML files, but you are talking about having to learn two software packages, and FrameMaker has a VERY steep learning curve (I used them both at my last job). Whereas learning the basics of Confluence is a breeze if you're familiar with Word. PDF output is also about a 7 or 8 out of 10, and if you are game, you can customize the output CSS to make it even better.
Finally, there are some more advanced features of Confluence that make it very DITA-like. You can create pages of repeatable text that can be included in other pages, so that you only have to change one page, and every page that uses its text is automatically updated.
Another benefit to a DITA structure is localization. Some people have a different space for each language, and the translator is set up to be automatically notified when pages in the main language are updated so that he or she can then update the pages in the other space. There are macros that can be used to facilitate localization as well. One allows you to have multiple localization on the same page, which is revealed depending on the location setting of the viewing computer. Another is like the ability above where a page is included in another page, but instead, you can have multiple "excerpts" on a single page, which would be the same text in different languages, and then you include the excerpt of the specific language in all the different pages.
Bottom line is that the world is moving toward online-only documents, and information moves so fast that the only way documents can remain relevant is to have them be dynamic. Only a wiki is going to do both well, and Confluence was the best of the half dozen or so wikis I tested.
Speaking about localization you could also have a look at Scroll Translations. With that you can manage multiple languages of the same documentation within the same space. Depending on your use case and your IT landscape, you can either translate directly in Confluence, or create an export file to be imported to your Translation Management System, translated there, and re-imported to Confluence.
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