Cops, crims and Confluence 4.0 change management
Atlassian has just released Confluence 4.0, a major update to the wiki software. The highlight of this release is a smart new all-in-one editor. It replaces the two editors available in earlier versions of the wiki. Now, as you would guess, the editor is the heart of the wiki. When the editor changes, the world changes. 😉 That’s true if you spend all of your day on the wiki, as I do. How can we make sure it’s not a world-shattering change for people when they get the new Confluence? Technical writers and change management to the rescue!
Imagine this: You walk into the office on Monday morning, twitching your eyebrows in a vain attempt to get your eyes wide enough open to see the computer screen. The calendar pops up. Yikes, there’s that meeting in 10 minutes and the wiki page is not quite ready yet. Gulp a mouthful of strong hot Java. Fire up the trusty wiki. Click the edit button. What the…!??!! Someone’s changed the wiki. No more wiki markup editor. No more rich text editor. Your brain breaks up into little chunks and skitters away across the universe. Its last cohesive thought is, Why was there no warning of this change?
Luckily, the above paragraph is fiction. 🙂 The Confluence technical writers have spent quite a bit of time on some change management material, aimed at helping people prepare for the new editor. This post is about technical communication and change management. It’s also a bit about Confluence 4.0. 😉
The Confluence 4.0 change management guide
The front page of the change management guide is here: Planning for Confluence 4.0. It summarises the change management guides available for each type of audience: administrators, developers, and other wiki users.
The guides cover a number of aspects of Confluence 4. To help people get up and running fast with the new editor in particular, we have created some quick reference guides:
- A “before and after” guide for people who use wiki markup: What’s Changed for Wiki Markup Users.
- A “before and after” guide for people who have always used the rich text editor: What’s Changed for Users of the Old Rich Text Editor.
- A general quick reference guide to the editor: Quick Reference Guide for the Confluence Editor.
We published the Confluence 4.0 Editor FAQ quite some time back, to give people a place to ask questions and a page to watch for news and updates. It’s been very interesting to see the feedback from everyone. The product managers, developers and QA engineers have been kept quite busy responding to questions and suggestions, as you can see from the comments on that page.
A quick note to wiki markup fans
Take heart. Wiki markup never dies!
Aims of the change management guides
The guides are designed for business users, and primarily for managers and team leaders who will need to train their staff and update their in-house procedural documentation.
When an organisation decides to upgrade its Confluence site to Confluence 4.0, the change management team can make use of our guides to let the wiki users know what’s about to happen. They can prepare training material and quick reference guides based on the material we’ve created.
A story of cops and crims
Where did the idea for the change management guides come from? Back in May 2010, I wrote a blog post on our internal wiki suggesting the need for this sort of documentation at major software releases such as Confluence 4 looked like becoming. As an illustration, I told this story:
A while ago I worked as technical writer for the New South Wales Police, during the time when the NSW Local Court Reform Act was passed. The new Act affected the way policemen arrested people, processed the arrest in the police stations, took fingerprints, entered information onto the police computer system (called “COPS” of course), held the suspect in the holding cells, took them to court and handled bail. In fact, it changed just about everything related to arrests and court procedures.
My role was pretty interesting. I had to document the changes to COPS (a green-screen mainframe system!) as well as do the change management for the local bobby on the beat. I designed posters that were to be stuck up on the walls of police stations around the state, quick-reference cards for court officers, and in-depth procedures for the guys who processed the arrest and holding of the suspect. I wandered around the depths of the Kings Cross police station (an education in itself) and watched people reporting for bail.
It was a revelation to see how the change affected people who were just trying to do their day job and now had to deal with a totally changed computer system too.
That blog post was over a year ago. Since that time, we’ve been planning and working on the Confluence 4.0 change management guides.
A new editor? Could do it with me eyes closed, mate!
I snapped this photograph at the Sydney Wildlife World last week. It’s a real koala, not a toy. Promise! Its less than elegant scientific name is Phascolarctos cinereus.
I’m excited about this new direction in the documentation. I hope many organisations and many people will find the change management guides useful! I also wonder how many other technical writers focus on change management as well as straight “how to” guides. Let me know if you’ve been doing something similar.
A bit of marketing fun
The marketing team have also been busy. Last week they published a neat, cheeky infographic placing the wiki in the world’s communication timeline: Communication through the ages. There is also a web page, published today, with an excellent overview of the new features in Confluence 4.0.
Posted on 20 September 2011, in atlassian, Confluence, technical writing, wiki and tagged atlassian, change management, Confluence 4.0, koala, technical communication, technical documentation, technical writing, wiki, wiki editor, wiki markup. Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.