Confluence Wiki – Not so Wacki
Confluence Enterprise Wiki is a great example of a Rich Internet Application which combines the best of online and offline experiences. The major features of Confluence such as collaboration, document management, version control, security, comments, notifications, online storage, search and office integration are available through a browser. These features plus an interactive GUI, ajax functionality and a java based structural core, all contribute to a fast, engaging user experience.
MediaWiki(Wikipedia), TWiki(Wikispaces), Sharepoint(Microsoft), Jotspot(bought by Google) have many of the best practices adopted by Confluence, but they haven’t expanded their offer to the same extent. Sharepoint is slow has poor navigation and usability, Twiki has moderate editing capabilities and poor integration with external plugins, MediaWiki while having success with Wikipedia relies on the open source community for development, while Jotspot seems to have been lost in the GooglePlex’s myriad of products. All of these minor issues affect a rich user experience. Much of the success of Confluence is due to the active development community, multiple plugins and opensource api. Adaption of W3C standards, cross platform, and cross browser compatibility combine to enhance ubiquitous access.
Search(everything is searchable) is enhanced through the ability to tag content, add links, organise hierarchically, and dynamically create pages based on labels. Dynamic(as a page is created) search for content is powered by lucene technology(java open source) integrated into the application. The ability to restructure, change, and rename content as part of a company’s organic growth is easy.
The initial user experience is positive, with a simple click of ‘edit’ to add text, images and other multimedia content to pages. The availability to further edit in wiki markup adds rich, complex functionality historically only available in desktop applications. Document management is similar to a desktop performance, while version control and online collaboration removes network capacity overloading, and the inefficient historical practice of mailing around word documents or files. Old versions are available for review and restoration, whilst concurrent editing gives notifications to the users.
I think the fact that Microsoft uses Confluence for several of their wikis is an advertisement for the quality, reliability and functionality of content delivery of this product.