I'm experimenting with Confluence with a view to possibly migrating our knowledgebase to it. We have a lot of data including a lot of pages in clear categories, dozens of pages with almost identical designs and content (bar the geographical location they pertain to, etc). All of these examples would benefit greatly from having chunks of their page design and content handled by embeddable template elements.
This is where I seem to have encountered a shortcoming of Confluence: you cannot apparently create embeddable 'templates' (like MediaWiki's sidebar templates, for example) which you can drop into a page, with all pages using it being automatically updated should you later edit the template.
I can see how to create whole-page template designs, which become a 'freestanding' page when you create a new page from them, but I cannot see how I can place a sidebar and other elements into a page template - and have those elements remain dynamically linked to their parent template after you save your edit.
I can also not see how to create a templated page design which remains a template (in terms of layout, sections and headings) with just spaces where specific text or values can be inputted which change the resulting rendered page... Without purchasing commercial plugins.
Am I looking in the wrong place, or have I missed something? (I've read the manual, and done a fair whack of Googling to try and get round this problem, and the solution has not yet revealed itself.)
The closest thing I've come up with (and it isn't very close) is to use user macros. If you have the way text is displayed determined by a user macro, you can change the macro and every instance will change.
But that is a weak replacement for what you are want, and only sufficient in limited circumstances.
You are correct, this functionality does not natively exist. Your options would be the paid plugins, or to write your own plugin to provide this functionality. Take a look at: https://developer.atlassian.com/display/CONFDEV/Creating+a+Template+Bundle
For anyone stumbling upon this later, I would make use of the multi-excerpt plug-in (very inexpensive), then you could add a named excerpt that points to the a page that contains dynamic content to a column in a section in your standard template. That way, the excerpt is always on any page you create from the template, but the content in the except is maintained on a separate page.
Alternately is to write a user macro for this function, Insert the macro the same way as for the excerpt. Then anytime you update the macro, that update is reflected on every page.
Much lighter weight that trying to write a plug in,
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