Last week I attended Atlassian Summit 2010 in San Francisco. Summit is a conference hosted by Atlassian (the company where I work, though I’m in the Sydney office) for our customers. Because I was “on duty”, I didn’t get to attend as many of the sessions as I would have liked. The conference was awesome, and the sessions were of a very high standard. Luckily, they’re available on video.
There are a number of videos on the Atlassian Summit 2010 site – one for every single session. I’m sure you’d love to watch them all, but that will take a bit of time. Someone told me they amount to 40 hours of viewing!
So I’ve had a look at the videos and picked out a few that I enjoyed and that are particularly relevant to technical writers:
- Confluence at NASA: Where No Wiki Has Gone Before, by Nick Smith of Freedom Information Systems. Nick has two aims: Firstly to inspire us, by letting us know that NASA uses the same tools as we are using. In particular, Confluence wiki. And secondly to let us in on the things they’ve learned from using the NASA wiki. Nick’s talk is a case study of the Ares Preliminary Design Review that took place in 2008. They created the “Ares Reviews Wiki” using Confluence. Thousands of people used the wiki to review a set of 75 documents (large, complex documents) over a period of two weeks. The documents were the design specifications for Ares I Rocket, a replacement for the Space Shuttle. Nick tells of the success of the project and runs through the lessons they learned from the project. Very useful, and an engaging presentation style. Good work Nick!
- Building a kick-ass Confluence page in 10 minutes, by Matt Hodges of Atlassian. This is an awesome lightning talk where Matt shows us how to use some advanced Confluence features to build a complex page in 10 minutes. I attended this session in real life, so I know it was great. A definite must-see.
- Felt the earth move when I read your docs, by Sarah Maddox of Atlassian. Rumour has it that I attended this one too. 🙂 This was my presentation, taking up the first 22 minutes of the video. It’s all about using social media to engage your readers in the documentation. I’ve also written a summary blog post with links to the download files and video.
- Confluence as a Support Knowledge Base, by Jeremy Largman of Atlassian. Jeremy and I shared a session. Jeremy’s presentation is in the second half of the video, starting around the 22 minute mark. He talks about using Confluence as a support knowledge base and the tools the support team have built to extend Confluence. His presentation is awesome and packed with information. Well worth a watch.
- Labels Magic – Using Labels in Confluence to Manage Information for a Release Cycle, by Anthony Pelosi from the San Francisco User Group. One often-cited problem is how to find content and information in the wiki. Anthony gives a great demonstration of using labels and the content-by-label macro as a flexible approach to organising and finding information.
- No Coding Necessary – Building User Macros and Dynamic Reports Inside Confluence, by Charles Hall of Astrium. This session is for more advanced and technically-oriented Confluence users. Charles Hall starts with a great introduction to user macros, what they are and what you can do with them. No coding necessary… well, except a bit of jQuery and… ! Now Charles rolls up his sleeves and gets serious. This is an excellent session for people who want to do more with their wiki.
- Building Awesome Dashboards with Confluence, by Jim Severino of Atlassian. In the second half of this session shared with Charles, Jim Severino describes how to build awesome dashboards with Confluence. He starts off by showing some of the Confluence pages we use at Atlassian, showing graphical reports and data in a dashboard-like format. Examples are product revenue dashboard, a build and infrastructure dashboard, customer services graphs and so on. Next Jim tells us about the free plugins available that you can use to manipulate data, all created by customers and available on the Atlassian Plugin Exchange. Jim goes on to tell us how to use the plugins to create graphical data dashboards on Confluence. A very interesting and informative session, again for people who want to do extra magic on their wiki.
- Mastering JIRA Workflow, by Christina Bang of Atlassian. This is an awesome in-depth look at JIRA workflow, by someone who really knows her stuff. JIRA is a web-based tool for project management and issue tracking, developed by Atlassian. Watch the video then download Christina’s expert guide to JIRA workflow. The PDF file is linked above the video. Essential viewing if you want to change the basic, default workflow to suit your team and your procedures. In particular this is relevant to technical writers who may need to adapt the default, software-development-based JIRA workflow to create a different set of steps and statuses, issues and tasks more suited to documentation development, review and publication.
There are some other really great sessions that I haven’t mentioned here, with lots of useful technical and procedural tips. In particular, if you’re interested in agile software development, you may find some useful sessions on the Summit site. I hope my selections give you lots of happy viewing.