BlueSpice MediaWiki vs. Confluence – the wiki alternatives (2)

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Get the full picture with corporate wikis. Image: Las Vegas Sportsbook, Baishampayan Ghos, CC-BY-SA-2.0.

Continuing our comparison of BlueSpice MediaWiki and Confluence – with a short summary.

In this second part we concentrate on those functions aimed more at power users and administrators than at normal users. (Read here part 1 of our comparison)

Data analysis

BlueSpice and Confluence differ significantly in how they deal with metadata. By metadata, we mean:

  • Data which can be assigned to an article and evaluated. For example, information about the author, the last change to the article or its release status.
  • Furthermore, data which appears in an article and can be evaluated, like that found in infoboxes in Wikipedia. For example, if one has a collection of articles for products, one might want to read off the manufacturer, warranty period and partner rebate and make a list to provide an overview of this information.

Both systems offer solutions for metadata. However, BlueSpice with Semantic MediaWiki offers an unrivalled technological framework giving companies amazing freedom of design. The resources available are extremely practical, letting you mould complex solutions for your own individual tasks.

I want to highlight editing content via forms, and the rich display options for metadata, for example in a map, a timeline, a calendar, table, tree or TagCloud, in charts, excel or in a freely-designable form.

Furthermore, the results can then be processed further automatically. On this basis, you can create and look after, for example, intelligent templates for quality management processes.

Reporting

BlueSpice MediaWiki also offers significantly more features than Confluence when it comes to reporting. BlueSpice has many classical resources for keeping track of changes, like watchlists, dashboards and notification systems. But its maintenance pages also stand out: lists of broken links, “links to this page”, edits in linked pages, pages without categories, pages with duplicates, and many more. These maintenance pages are contained in the standard MediaWiki. This is particularly important for wikis that last a long time.

Communication

The communications tools in both systems – at least as far as the standard functionality is concerned – are limited to the most important ones. In both wikis, simple blog functions can be included and discussions carried out. Confluence and BlueSpice offer a simple commentary function for each article.

Confluence can add in its own ticket system Jira, coordinating communication and tasks. On top of this there is HipChat, their own instant messaging and chat system. Each is a paid-for stand-alone product.

BlueSpice offers talk pages attached to every article, which are well known from MediaWiki. The idea behind simple talk pages is that the preparation of and discussion surrounding an article should not be hidden away in forums or tickets, but rather collected centrally next to the page. This is often much clearer. However, many users miss the possibilities of centralised places for discussion, discussions in groups, a better commentary function and the chance to keep track of discussions.

Hallo Welt! will introduce the Timeline function in BlueSpice 3, satisfying these desires and organising discussions of articles in a completely new way.

Quality assurance

A look at the feature comparison shows a further focal point of BlueSpice. BlueSpice pro comes with a workflow function (Review) for reviewing articles. This function can be combined with a draft and approval mechanism. Users or user groups can be assigned to watch over articles. You can place articles on the resubmission list yourself and mark articles as obsolete.

Confluence offers a small task management feature for quality assurance. Alongside this, there are many functions like a workflow function available as paid-for plugins in Marketplace.

Administration, Skinning and Mobile

Administration tools are about setting up and managing wikis. Confluence and BlueSpice offer the standard tools: user, group, namespaces (spaces) and permissions management.

BlueSpice has a set of functions coming from the web. Merge pages together with their versioning history or duplicate them, for example. “Replace Text” is an interesting and powerful function, which lets you, for example, rename categories.

BlueSpice and Confluence allow you to customise the design of the wiki according to your corporate identity using assistants. Spaces and namespaces can also be differentiated with colour. It is also important to give PDF templates the necessary design and layout.

Infrastructure and security

Classical security features are available in both systems: log on and registration functions, captcha functions and other spam-prevention mechanisms. And naturally, individual pages can be blocked for some user groups. This latter is a commonly requested feature, but one which is rarely used in wikis.

Scribunto is the most important infrastructure extension from BlueSpice for decision makers.  Scribunto provides BlueSpice with its own scripting language (Lua) allowing simple programming. This opens up BlueSpice MediaWiki’s possible fields of application above and beyond the standard scenarios.

Personalisation

User pages and user areas belong as standard in a company wiki. Confluence separates this area off much more. In BlueSpice, users deposit their information and drafts in subpages.

The users can set up individual navigations systems (UserSidebar or Favorites) and add recently visited pages to them.

Conclusion

Both Confluence and BlueSpice MediaWiki show what requirement need to be filled by modern enterprise wikis.

The systems are based on different concepts though. While Confluence is based mainly on packaging contents for teams, BlueSpice MediaWiki concentrates on consolidating knowledge and organisational units.

Confluence uses a modular assembly of the system by connecting Jira and HipChat, and the modules from Marketplace. BlueSpice, on the other hand, has more as standard and offers the power user more opportunity for modelling knowledge systems so that the wiki can be tailored for specific usage scenarios.

 

Download

You can download the feature comparison lists here:

 

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