Enterprise Wikis: Advantages of Confluence compared to Foswiki and MediaWiki

In our article, “Enterprise Wikis: Criteria and important topics in the evaluation of wiki software” we discussed the diverse and unique requirements an enterprise wiki needs to meet. Decisions about choosing the right wiki system cannot be made using generalizations, but rather only by taking into account the specific needs of the company. In this article, we will draw a concrete comparison between the approaches of the Atlassian Confluence commercial system and the open source systems Foswiki and MediaWiki. What are the strengths of Confluence compared to Foswiki and MediaWiki?

1. Functional Enhancements

  • Confluence has a high-quality, thoroughly developed native WYSIWYG editor, which is far more advanced than the rich text editor of Foswiki. MediaWiki has no native WYSIWYG editor.
  • HTML source code can be inserted into Foswiki and MediaWiki. This exposes a security problem whereby the system could be attacked from the inside—a possible exclusion criterion for companies with serious requirements about their security needs.
  • HTML code cannot be injected into Confluence. Instead, a widget plugin allows for the easy and rapid integration of external content such as YouTube films and Slideshare presentations.
  • The integration of MS Office and Open Office is seamless in Confluence.
  • The Gliffy plugin allows for Visio applications within the organization’s wiki, including process modeling, planning, drawing and diagrams. This proves very useful for documentation and manuals.
  • Confluence provides better search capabilities without the need for an additional plugin (parameterized.)
  • Confluence has an intuitive and practical macro browser which allows even the casual user to access and gradually become comfortable with the more advanced features of the wiki.
  • Confluence is supported by a sophisticated workflow plugin for approving and publishing processes. Thanks to this feature, Confluence offers the best content management for customers and partners publishing in the extranet in addition to the programmed routines. Quality management processes can also achieve ISO certification.
  • Confluence includes a powerful document import feature for existing Word documents.
  • Confluence also contains a secure email import function, whereby email communications can be documented for projects in the wiki.
  • Of particular interest to programmers, Confluence has better extensibility thanks to a complex plugin API.
  • For administrators and the less tech-savvy—easy installation and configuration of hundreds of plugins directly via the admin web interface, without the need for assistance from system administrators and programmers (unless authorization by the wiki manager is required by the company.)
  • The Confluence community is substantial and consists of developers from large companies, which in turn attracts more programmers.
  • Layout changes are possible in Confluence via a plugin.
  • Confluence has a professional WebDAV interface which allows for direct integration of the wiki into the file system.
  • The integration of and interaction with other Atlasssian products, such as JIRA, is seamless.
  • The sophisticated SQL plugin allows for better integration of databases. This is especially important for reporting and analysis.

2. Usability Improvements

  • Confluence has a much more intuitive and more sophisticated interface, including better search and navigation, than the open source alternatives. This leads to a more ready acceptance by employees and shortens the learning curve. This way, the amount of training needed is reduced and greater use of the wiki is achieved.
  • The spaces concept of Confluence is very granular. Confluence has many advantages in this area especially compared to MediaWiki, which does not even offer a native spaces concept.
  • Achieving the correct configuration is simpler and more transparent to users. MediaWiki, on the other hand, has no native rights management.
  • The admin area of Confluence is much easier to understand and use than the corresponding areas of Foswiki and MediaWiki.
  • The ability to display external documents directly in Confluence wiki pages accelerates the transfer of content from file attachments and provides content integration in a secure uniform web interface.
  • With Confluence, there is a plugin for pasting files using Drag & Drop.
  • The wiki structure in the form of parent-child document relationships is easy to adjust using Drag & Drop.
  • Existing wiki documents can be changed and renamed in Confluence with ease.
  • A small and easy-to-implement task plugin within Confluence allows for basic, native task management.
  • The management of employee blogs in Confluence is simple yet sophisticated.
  • The RSS feed implementation is clearer and more accessible than that of either Foswiki or MediaWiki.

3. Intra-company advantages of Confluence

  • Confluence enjoys a higher user acceptance rate which leads to broader wiki use in the organization.
  • The system is one of the few Microsoft Certified wikis on the market. It provides interfaces for SharePoint and MS Office and integrates seamlessly with WebDAV shared drives within a company. This is often an important factor for IT professionals.
  • Confluence is by far the most popular and successful commercial system on the market.

Are you currently considering wiki software? Do you need assistance in coming to a decision? We are experts in business communication. We would be happy to offer you our advice and show you the Confluence, MediaWiki and Foswiki online. Please contact us! More information on this subject as well as a convenient contact form can be found on our special page about company wikis.

Additional information

Architecture of a wiki project: elements, sequence, prodecure, rules
Enterprise Wikis: Criteria and important topics in the evaluation of wiki software
Company Wikis aren’t Wikipedia
Wiki Adoption: Why there’s no Reason to be Scared of Sharing Knowledge

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