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Documents Done Right: How to Better Manage Documents in Confluence

Confluence is an incredibly powerful content creation and management system, but there are few drawbacks when it comes to traditional document management. 

If you still rely on other tools like SharePoint or Google Docs to create and manage your documents – at least documents in the 'traditional' sense like Word or PDF files – then you're not alone. We've found that folks are reluctant to fully move their documents to Confluence because they still need the core features that these other tools offer, like: 

  • Flexible file formats 
  • Broad compatibility
  • A familiar UI for creating, managing, and reading documents

The downside to this is that your team ends up with content in multiple places which creates extra processes, hinders collaboration, and wastes a lot of time and resources. But what if you were to manage your document process from start to finish in Confluence instead? 

 

Your Content Doesn't Always Fit Nicely onto a Single Confluence Page 

Have you ever tried to fit a 20-page document onto a single Confluence page? It creates quite a mess. 

Documents need a logical structure, they need to be readable, and most importantly, you need to be able to manage them. More specifically, you need to be able to:

  • Create versions or copies and track and compare changes to each
  • Customize and manage multi-page templates 
  • Export documents to multiple formats to share with folks outside of Confluence 

So when faced with this 20-page document dilemma in Confluence, you would naturally break up those 20 pages into a tree of Confluence pages to make them more readable and manageable. Each page in the tree represents a separate topic in the document, which replicates the kind of structure you'd find in other document management tools.

Visualization of Confluence pages split up.png

 

Breaking up Can Be Hard to Do

But breaking up content into a tree of pages introduces new challenges: 

  • You can't create versions or baselines
  • You can't watch a tree of pages to track changes made to the content
  • You lose the visibility and context you need to collaborate on the page tree as a whole, making Confluence less powerful  

It's not ideal for readers either. They first need to find the right page tree, which is tough when the Confluence search only identifies individual pages. They then need to determine how the pages in the tree fit together in context before reading each page separately, rather than the entire document at once. 

With these limitations, it's no wonder some teams fall back on clunky document management systems. But this is where Scroll Documents comes in.

 

Modernize your Document Management in Confluence 

K15t will be releasing Scroll Documents to help tackle some of these document management hurdles in Confluence.

As vendors of the popular Scroll Word and PDF Exporter apps, we know a thing or two about how our customers try to bridge the gap between their content in Confluence and the documents they use in their daily business. This page tree approach to a document is the most common way users define their export scope: a page and it's children. 

Scroll Documents makes this Confluence → document gap even narrower by helping you define and manage a tree of pages as a single unit of content – a document. Once defined, you can collaborate on your content across multiple Confluence pages, and create versions or copies, track changes, manage multi-page templates, add document metadata, and export to PDF and Word as one unit. 

Confluence page tree.png 

 

Scroll Documents features a documents overview which serves as a browsable, interactive home for all documents in a Confluence space. Access all of your documents in one place, and organize and filter based on metadata like dates, document contributors, and customizable labels.

Documents Overview.png

 

Each document is also equipped with a details view to help you visually dig deeper without needing to open each Confluence page to understand what it's about. The details view showcases a description of the document, along with other metadata and interaction points. 

Documents Overview with Details expanded.png

 

You can also open each document in a dedicated viewer. The viewer helps you stay in context by reading and interacting with all the pages and versions of a document at once, without the distraction of the surrounding Confluence UI.

The viewer also recognizes the page titles and headings in your document and converts them to a scrollable, interactive document outline. No more clicking through multiple pages to read specific sections of your documents; the viewer ensures you never lose context.

Documents Viewer.png

 

Better Manage the Documents in Your Team 

Scroll Documents helps break down content silos by extending Confluence to teams who still rely on traditional document formats. Here are a few examples of content that can be better managed in Confluence with Scroll Documents: 

  • HR teams: Employee handbooks, contractor agreements, and new hire paperwork
  • Legal teams: Contracts, operating agreements, and NDAs
  • Development teams: Functional specifications and product documentation 
  • Sales and procurement teams: Sales order forms, partner agreements, and statements of work

 

Subscribe for Updates

Head to our website to learn more about Scroll Documents and how it can help modernize your team's document management process. Subscribe for updates to be the first to know when we release, which will be at or around Atlassian Summit in Las Vegas. This new version will replace the existing version of Scroll Documents for Confluence Cloud, and will be available for Confluence Server for the very first time. 

We're also looking for Confluence users who are interested in testing early versions of the app. If you'd like to participate, please email hello@k15t.com and we'll be glad to send you more details. 

Are you looking for specific features or functionality to improve your document management process in Confluence? Let us know in the comments!

3 comments

This seems like a nice and useful function, and I look forward to trying it.  But is it the simplest, or even the right, solution for the problem of long documents?  Other document management services like Notion, Coda, Slab, Slite, Google Docs, etc. solve long-document navigation more directly, with a live, sticky, clickable document outline of all headings, active in both edit and read modes.  This lets us keep content where it belongs, and does not introduce another level of formatting burden.  Long overdue.

Hi @Bruce Cannon thanks so much for taking the time to read our post and for bringing up some great points. Regarding the outline, Scroll Documents will offer a scrollable / clickable document outline that will show the page titles and headings of the page tree that you’ve defined as a document.

You’ll also be able to jump directly into edit mode from the viewer so that you’re not switching contexts – something that happens a lot when your content is split up on multiple Confluence pages.

Here's an example of what that looks like in the app (a sneak peek, if you will ;) ) So the screenshot is of the Viewer, and you can see the outline on the left with all of the page titles / headings. Let's say I wanted to make a quick update to the page Open document in the viewer, I could simply click the subtle Edit button that appears next to the title to open the Confluence editor:

Edit-Document-From-Viewer.png

We're still working on optimizing this view / edit mode and navigation in the hopes that it will feel really natural for Confluence users and more in line with some of the tools you mentioned. 

I'm curious, what did you mean by "not introduce another level of formatting burden"? Is this about the way you structure the content in the outline? 

Thanks Shannon, this add-on looks pretty interesting!

Sorry I didn't explain well on my last point.  I meant by that: a long document with internal sections created by headings, if it has a live headings outline (like every other online document but Confluence has), is easy to create, edit, maintain, navigate, visualize and read.  Without the additional work of busting it up into pages and creating a bound tree and managing that hierarchy of content.

I understand that your product aims to automate much of this, which is great.  I'm sure that approach is more memory efficient, and faster, for some documents!  I look forward to trying it.  My main thought was this should be a special case product, not a workaround for Confluence's lack of live heading outline. 

Here's another product idea for you: create an add-on which shows in-doc headings as children of the doc, in the page tree!  

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