Atlassian Technical Writers Keep Pace with Agile Development and Manage Versioned Content

Like all Atlassian enterprise software products, its best of breed team and content collaboration platform, Confluence, is developed in Agile fashion. Rapid release cycles are a sign of good Agile development – and Atlassian release cycles are getting shorter and shorter. While that’s good news for the product and customers, technical writers at Atlassian felt like they were racing against time trying to prepare documentation just as quickly.

“We were releasing software regularly, but wanted to step it up and release as often as multiple times per day with ease," explained Andrew Prentice, development manager at Atlassian. "We needed a solution that enabled us to update the documentation just as quickly. We found it in Confluence.”

Content Management Challenges

Atlassian's technical writing team manages more than 2,000 individual Help pages for Confluence alone. The team used Confluence for managing collaborative authoring between tech writers, developers, and other stakeholders as well as capturing customer input through comments on pages. To manage versioned content, the team originally used a small, custom plug-in to create page drafts and capture more advanced versioning information – but soon they needed to scale.

“For our documentation release workflow, our goal was to manage documentation for the current release, while creating new pages and updating existing pages for several upcoming releases," said Rachel Robins, a technical writer for Confluence. "We also needed an easy way to publish only the updated pages needed for each new release such that our documentation set is still a complete offering.”

Since customers can host Atlassian products behind their own firewalls, or opt for an Atlassian cloud-hosted solution, the team had to make sure they could manage Help content for each hosting option without duplicating identical content. One workaround utilized an external script that copied selected pages (e.g. only the pages that were relevant to cloud customers) to a different space. But this proved problematic – it copied all pages – even ones that only applied to certain customers – as well as large documentation sets that took hours to complete via the script.

Fortunately, K15t Software, an Atlassian Marketplace vendor, was already working on content management add-ons for Confluence. The company worked closely with Atlassian tech writers to create Scroll Versions, a solution that helps technical writers keep pace with fast-moving release cycles.

Scroll Versions Add-on for Confluence

Like the name ‘Versions’ implies, the product allows users to manage multiple versions that can be published at some future date. Whenever a development team releases a new version, it only takes a few clicks to publish updated documentation to the appropriate Confluence space. Tech writers can work on several versions at once so they can easily keep up with today's engineering teams' rapid pace of development.

Scroll Versions also supports ‘conditional content’, so technical writers can create variants for Confluence Server and Confluence Cloud, offering a positive influence on the day-to-day work of Atlassian tech writers. They can now provide more accurate and specific information to server and cloud-based customers.

Scroll Versions enables companies like Atlassian to manage and publish support documentation with ease. Documentation processes no longer create a bottleneck when new product versions are released. With Scroll Versions, tech writers can produce content faster and easily deliver the right content to the right customers.

“Scroll Versions has been critical to Atlassian‘s adoption of continuous deployment," said Prentice. "Our tech writing team can support release cycles measured in days, rather than weeks or months, without sacrificing any of the collaboration and content-creation benefits that Confluence provides for documentation.“

How About You?

If anything in this case study sounds familiar, then you should check out Scroll Versions. If it works for the good people at Atlassian, it’s sure to work for you. Scroll Versions enables teams to work on different documentation versions and variants in the same space, and to keep up with a shortening release cycle. That's the power of Scroll Versions.

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