Companies often develop their software product documentation alongside code, using XML or another publishing tool to match documentation development to software development. But often their project documents, especially their diagrams, are still developed in files on their local computer and emailed to the people who need to work with it. This is not good for collaboration.
It is best to have all technical documentation in one place, where you can see it at all times, where changes are reliably tracked, and where authors can collaborate and contribute as required.
Using Confluence for technical documentation
Technical documentation is so important to Atlassian that they have dedicated an entire section to developing technical documentation with a Confluence intranet.
Confluence is an ideal tool for developing and storing documentation, including:
- All forms of project documentation including requirements analyses, specifications, use cases, design documents, UML documentation.
- Technical manuals, user guides, installation instructions, administrator documents.
- Training manuals.
- White papers and research papers.
- Patent and grant applications.
- And, of course, meeting agendas, decisions and results.
Why Confluence is good for technical documentation
Confluence supports reuse
Single-sourcing is popular for good reason in the technical documentation world. It cuts down on repetition and redundancy, and encourages consistency. For example, you can reuse the same set of instructions in a software user manual, online help and in a training manual.
You can do this with the built in Excerpt and Include macros, or install the Multi-excerpt add-on. Confluence templates and blueprints allow reuse across spaces and enforce a consistent format for your documentation.
Roles for reviewers
You can assign different roles to users to perform the types of reviews required by technical documentation: peer review, technical review and functional review. Reviewers can add comments to both the page as well as inline comments.
Complete document history
It's as important to track changes in documentation as it is in code. Confluence has a complete revision history, so it's easy to roll back to a previous version.
Publish to multiple formats
Confluence has built-in options for publishing pages and spaces to HTML, XML and PDF. You can use add-ons to enhance your exported PDF and Word files, and export to DocBook XML, EPub, Eclipse Help and JavaHelp.
Document lifecycle management
From locked drafts, to restricted review access, through to publishing, Confluence has the document lifecycle covered. With add-ons, you can automatically flag older documentation for review and assign it to a reviewer, mark it as obsolete, or archive it, all on a schedule that you choose. Other add-ons extend the built in workflow, publication and version management capabilities.
Diagrams are a key component of technical documentation
Diagrams are a major component in technical and project documentation, but too often they are developed separately, tucked away on individual computers.
With draw.io for Confluence, you can collaboratively develop diagrams within Confluence and track every change made. draw.io is perfect for visualizing processes, infrastructure, concepts and for documenting code structures, relationships and workflows.
draw.io example diagrams
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