What is Atlassian Confluence?
Atlassian Confluence is a web-based collaborative software that enables organizations to create a corporate wiki and manage their content. It provides an open workspace that teams can use to create, revise, review, and finalize many types of content. Teams of all sizes and types can use Confluence for various purposes, including managing mission-critical projects and creating a space to facilitate team collaboration. This is part of an extensive series of guides about software development.
Confluence software: key features
Confluence allows you to quickly create dashboards and pages in minutes. In addition to the standard text editing features, it provides dynamic content, including roadmaps, search bars, and expanding sections.
Confluence provides dedicated spaces for each team or project, making it easy to find relevant information, assets, and communications. Each space provides an overview of the project or team’s information, a blog for updates, and pages arranged in a hierarchy.
Confluence immediately updates content whenever someone makes a change, making collaborative editing easier. It provides automatic versioning, saving a snapshot of each page update and new file version upload. You can easily revert changes if you find a mistake.
Visibility and collaboration
You can keep group discussions in the comments on a project page to ensure they are visible. Inline comments allow you to comment on specific elements in context. When you make a decision, you can notify colleagues using @mentions.
Confluence’s open structure ensures all employees can easily access the organization’s knowledge, including research, best practices, and feedback. You can find the most relevant resources when starting a new project, rather than building them from scratch. Sharing resources and organizational knowledge can save time and promote collaboration across the enterprise.
Confluence pricing and plans
The Confluence Cloud provides several plans, allowing you to choose the right functionality and features for your organization. The options range from plans that support small teams sharing all resources to plans for large enterprises with distributed teams emphasizing visibility and control.
The Confluence Free Plan allows small teams (up to ten people) to use Confluence. It includes up to 2 GB of file storage and support from the Atlassian Community.
However, the Free Plan does not allow you to customize permissions or permit anonymous access. If you build a website on the Free Plan, all users logged in to the Confluence site can add, view, or edit pages and spaces.
If you migrate to the Free Plan from Confluence Server or switch from another plan, you can keep existing permissions for spaces, pages, or the whole account (except for anonymous access, which remains disabled). You must upgrade to another plan if you want to enable anonymous access or change the permissions.
Confluence will deactivate a site on the Free Plan if it remains inactive for 120 days. You can reset the 120 days to prevent the site’s deactivation by logging in and viewing a page. Site admins should receive emails alerting them when a site approaches the 120-day limit and risks deactivation.
The Standard Plan costs $580 per year and includes up to 10 users. It provides tighter access controls, more support, and larger storage capacity. It offers up to 250 GB of file storage and supports access for 35,000 people. It allows you to create global and custom permissions for specific spaces and pages.
The Confluence Standard Plan provides audit logs to keep track of changes. It lets you archive pages and create public links. Another important feature is data residency, which lets you control where your product data resides. Confluence’s standard support is available during business hours in your timezone (Monday-Friday, 9 am-5 pm).
The Premium Plan costs $1100 per year and includes up to 10 users. It provides additional features on top of the Standard Plan. It offers unlimited file storage, bulk archiving, and optimized infrastructure to handle thousands of concurrent users.
Premium features include an admin key, team calendars, sandboxes, release tracks, 99.9% guaranteed uptime (as per the SLA), and dedicated support at all hours.
The Premium Plan also includes analytics, which provides insights on the Confluence Cloud site’s usage, the total views for your pages and spaces, unique page views, and the users who have seen the latest page updates. The admin key allows you to troubleshoot restricted pages using temporary access permissions.
The Enterprise Plan costs $102,500 per year and includes 801-1000 users. It is also available for sites on Confluence Cloud. This plan provides all the premium plan features and allows users to access an unlimited number of Confluence products. You only pay once for each user, regardless of their access. This plan also upgrades the service level agreement (SLA) to 99.95% uptime.
Confluence with JIRA
You can use the JIRA task management tool to track and address issues throughout each task’s lifecycle. JIRA can support all lifestyle stages, including development, incident management, and HR processes. As a wiki-based collaborative content management solution, Confluence allows teams to create and organize information.
You can use Confluence for your knowledge base, intranet, or product documentation. Both Confluence and JIRA support agile methods and emphasize collaboration. JIRA excels at tracking the status of specific tasks in a standardized view. Confluence is best for collecting a wide range of information—it focuses on the visual and creative aspects.
You can take advantage of the complementary capabilities of JIRA and Confluence by using them together. Use JIRA to track individual tasks users need to address and Confluence to organize and share all your content, files, and ideas with colleagues.
Atlassian Confluence workflow and best practices
Here are a few best practices for creating effective organizational workflows with Confluence.
Create a project homepage
You can use a different Atlassian Confluence space for each project or department, such as HR or marketing. One department might have many concurrent projects, or a project might involve several departments. You can set up a project homepage by creating a new space or a page within an existing space.
Use a page tree to organize pages that cross multiple departments or projects, allowing all users to keep track of pages.
Establish a clear project plan
You don’t have to build a project plan from scratch—use Confluence features to create a project page easily. You can leverage labels to make it easier to search pages. You can use slash commands to populate a page with multiple elements:
- /layout—present information in an easy-to-understand format
- /image—upload images to the page
- /table of contents—provide a page overview with links to the page’s headings.
- /table—keep tasks up-to-date and organized
- /expand—add a collapsible section
By default, everyone in the organization can access a Confluence page, although you can apply restrictions:
- Global view/edit access—the default, allowing all users to view and edit the page.
- Global view access, limited edit access—everyone can view the pages, but only some can edit.
- Limited view/edit access—only select users can view or edit the page.
Keep the project on track
Confluence can help keep projects on track by centralizing communication and management and preventing information from falling into siloes. Inline comments make it easier to find communications, and you don’t get held up looking for emails.
Users can leave inline comments by highlighting text and clicking the comment icon.
Image Source: Atlassian
Any team member with access to the page can respond to comments. You can resolve comment threads and use @mentions to alert specific individuals. Colored panels allow readers to find and absorb information.
Assess your progress
Share a to-do list and ensure it’s always up to date—this visualizes the project’s progress and ensures accountability. Users can mark completed tasks.
Image Source: Atlassian
When you finish a project, you can use a table to share outcomes with team members and stakeholders.
Use code blocks
Macros can help you extend your Confluence pages’ capabilities—for example, adding the Code Block macro to show code examples. You can share sample code, commands, and excerpts with syntax highlighting. Once you publish the page, you’ll see the Code Block macro in effect.
Image Source: Atlassian
Learn more in our detailed guide to confluence code block (coming soon)
Confluence alternatives and competitors
Notion is a web-based documentation solution. Organizations leverage Notion to build and maintain knowledge bases for various topics like coding guidelines, task instructions, and HR workflows. It provides a centralized platform that helps streamline various operations, such as goal setting, lead management, and status tracking.
Here are the core features of Notion:
- A drag-and-drop interface—allows users to organize, rearrange, and create content.
- Built-in calendar and kanban boards—help users create roadmaps and monitor various tasks according to categories, completion status, priority, and assigned team members.
- Comments on tasks and projects—users can add comments on projects and tasks to discuss content, drive efficiency, and collaborate.
- An API for third-party integration—enables integration with third-party solutions such as Slack, InVision, and Figma.
- A centralized platform—provides one location for users to collaborate by creating to-do lists, preparing meeting notes, and setting up weekly agendas.
Learn more in our detailed guide to confluence vs. notion (coming soon)
Swimm is a documentation platform for software projects and teams. Software organizations use Swimm to manage and transfer knowledge that relates to their code and development practices. Swimm keeps documentation up to date as the code changes and accessible through its web application or IDE integrations. Swimm is a Docs as Code tool – documents are stored and managed as part of the user’s codebase.
Here are the main features of Swimm:
- Web application – although documents are stored within the code, Swimm’s web app allows searching, tagging, grouping and various collaboration features.
- IDE plugins – Swimm prompts developers about relevant documents as they are going through their code, and allows accessing them within the IDE.
- Auto-sync – Swimm integrates into the project’s CI to find and correct outdated documents as the code changes.
- Writing guidance – Swimm helps developers create rich and extensive documents by allowing them to add live code snippets and diagrams, by suggesting structure, and by generating content.
SharePoint is an information portal for creating a centralized, password-protected space that facilitates document sharing. It provides features for storing, organizing, sharing, and accessing information from various devices using a web browser. Organizations use SharePoint to create websites, manage documents and files, and establish collaboration between employees.
Here are notable features of SharePoint:
- Web content management—SharePoint lets you manage external website content from one centralized location.
- User-productivity—organizations can promote productivity with SharePoint using features like notifications, lists, libraries, and approvals.
- Deep integration with Office—SharePoint allows users to co-author a document on one device and complete it on another, using various tools to highlight, comment, and annotate the document.
- Search and discovery—users can quickly find files using SharePoint’s search and discovery tools. It also provides insights about files, including the number of users who viewed or shared a file.
- Collaborate on the intranet—SharePoint lets users broadcast messages to drive communications and share news and resources with collaborators.
- Drive organizational efficiency—users can leverage SharePoint to build portals and websites that engage users and connect them to content, expertise, collective knowledge, and actionable insights. Additionally, users can share applications that streamline processes.
Document360 is a knowledge base platform for creating and publishing self-service knowledge bases and help centers. It allows users to create documentation, information categories, and edit documents. It also provides randing tools such as markdown support, preview functionality, version management and rollback, custom domain mapping, AI-powered search, and internal commenting.
Here are notable features of Document360:
- Knowledge base—organizations can use Document360 to create and manage help center articles using advanced features like version management, search capabilities, article settings like page titles and article tags, and preview tools.
- Version management—Document360 saves several versions of articles to protect against accidental content deletions and changes.
- Preview mode—users can use this mode to view the article and verify it looks as intended before publishing it.
- Team collaboration—authors can use Document360 to discuss and review articles and collaborate online using a central location.
- Categorization—Document360 provides tools for creating categories and sub-categories and lets users reorder articles within categories and hide categories.
- Editing tools—Document360 offers various editing tools, including image and video embedding, callouts, code blocking, tables, file attachments, and hyperlinks.
- Customization tools—organizations can use customization tools to tailor the knowledge base to their brand.
- Integration with third-party apps—Document360 integrates various apps, including Google Analytics, Olark, and Segment.
Whatfix provides a Software as a Service (SaaS) platform for digital adoption. It helps vendors create interactive walkthroughs to place in web applications. Organizations use Whatfix to provide users with performance support and in-app guidance for software products and web applications.
Here are notable benefits of Whatfix:
- Personalized user journeys—organizations utilize Whatfix to deliver personalized user journeys, including onboarding and training and continuous engagement.
- User-friendly—Whatfix works on all applications. It is available as an easy-to-install browser extension.
- Personalized user onboarding—Whatfix helps organizations create personalized and contextual in-app content and deliver it as a simple and effective onboarding experience. It provides features to enhance the experience, allowing organizations to display useful tips, create goal-oriented task lists, highlight new features, and validate data entry in real-time.
- Reduce support costs—organizations can guide users in-app with live help to reduce support costs. Whatfix lets organizations personalize flows for each user to help them find relevant information as needed. It also provides smart interactive content features like flows and videos to help solve support queries.
- Effective training—Whatfix provides automatically-generated multiformat content to deliver engaging and effective training content, such as videos and slideshows. The platform provides a crawling capability that makes in-app help available from all enterprise applications to minimize the time end-users spend looking for help.
- Insights-driven analytics—Whatfix lets organizations use out-of-the-box reports and dashboards to monitor content usage and get insights to improve content regularly. Organizations can get detailed information on all content types to determine how to increase adoption.
Slite is a collaborative documentation platform for creating, sharing, and updating knowledge bases. It enables users to manage project plans, receive team activity updates to track projects, and view documents’ version history. Organizations use Slite to facilitate employee onboarding and team meetings.
Here are the core features of Slite:
- Document management
- Real-time editing
- Discussion boards
- Content management
- Knowledge base management
- Full-text search
Slite provides templates for kick-off, project plans, and project QA, and allows users to create and edit projects according to individual requirements. It supports various content types, role-based permissions, document linking and formatting, notifications, and mentions.
Team leaders can use the application to learn what users search for, discover top contributors to certain knowledge bases, and identify popular notes. Team members can create and share meeting agendas, collaborate using checklists and mentions, and organize meeting notes.
See Additional Guides on Key Software Development Topics
Together with our content partners, we have authored in-depth guides on several other topics that can also be useful as you explore the world of software development.
Authored by Swimm
- What Is Code Documentation?
- Documentation in agile: why it matters and 6 tips for success
- Documentation as Code: Why You Need It & How to Get Started
Authored by Codfresh