If you've been using Confluence for a while, you've certainly noticed this wonderful collaboration tool has a few social features. I'm talking about Likes, Statuses, @mentions and Personal Spaces. But overall, it doesn't really measure up to dedicated Enterprise Social Networking applications. Today this all changes. Introducing Blue, the ultimate social networking add-on for Confluence. In this post, we'll introduce all the key features of Blue, version 1.3.5 which we released today on the Atlassian Marketplace.
Once you create a page using that Blueprint, you'll be blown away by the result. Imagine, you now have a full featured social feed for your organization. (We recommend you change your Confluence Home Page to the page where you used the Blueprint) Here's a real screenshot from our very own Confluence instance:
(Notice the awesome typo in the announcement)
The Blue Feed allows users to posts statuses and reply to these statues. While that concept is universally known and understood, applying it to Confluence proved to be very challenging but in the end it got done. The great thing about the Blue Feed is it uses the existing Confluence user statuses, so if you've been posting statuses already, you'll see them in the feed as soon as you start using it.
While does indeed use Confluence user statuses, we decided from day one we would improve on them. User statuses in Blue can be as long as 250 characters, giving you enough space to express your feelings while distancing statuses from being a total ripoff of Twitter.
Also, your Blue user status may contain as many as 5 images attached, which is great for sharing cool pics you took at the last company party. True Story: Our people had a blast sharing pictures during our last mixer at the Bowling lanes.
Of course, user statuses can be liked and commented, and this is where it gets interesting. Blue features a super user friendly interface for comments. You enter your comment, attach an image (animated gifs anyone?) and simply press enter to post. Obviously, normal Confluence comments feature more functions than that but we felt they weren't necessary and we really wanted to keep things simple.
At TechSolCom, we do a lot of consulting mandates all over the country and it's always a challenge when we wish to communicate important announcements. Of course, there's email, but isn't time for something a bit more interesting? It goes like this: People use Confluence several times a day and they see the Confluence Dashboard every time. With Blue, users will be seeing the social feed every time they use Confluence, therefore you now have a perfect channel to reach all users. That's why Blue allows you to publish Announcement to communicate important news. As a Confluence Administrator, you can delegate the posting of Announcements to a specific group by accessing the Blue Configuration section inside Confluence Administration:
When you create an Announcement, you can also "pin" it to the top of the feed so everybody sees it, and you can determine the end date for the "pin", after which the announcement will enter the feed as any other post. If you have several "pinned" announcements (up to 10), they'll automatically rotate every 10 seconds, and users have the option to quickly go through each Announcement. Announcements can also have an image, which will be displayed with a nifty fade-in effect. You may also determine if Likes and Comments are allowed.
When it came to notifications, we quickly decided we wouldn't be sending any email notifications. We already get so much email everyday, and plus, isn't Confluence about getting less email? That's why Blue is fully integrated with the Confluence in-app Notifications. As soon as someone comments or likes one of your statuses / comments, you'll know about it in the Confluence Notifications section.
Blue is also available as an iOS application, and before anybody starts breaking things, an Android version is part of our plans, but honestly we're looking to gain traction with the plugin itself first, and then we'll gladly build an Android app. The iOS application is not just some empty shell running HTML5, but a 100% native application. Now, you'll be able to stay in touch with your colleagues even when you're on the move. Eventually we'd like to add Push Notifications for Announcements. While that feature isn't available just yet, it's definitely on our short term roadmap.
Speaking of our roadmap, we have a lot of awesome features in the works. Our current strategy is to release on new functionality per version in order to provide a steady stream of improvements. So looking ahead, we're working on adding other types of posts such as Events and Polls. eventually, we'd also like to connect the Blue Feed to other streams of information, such as your organizations RSS Feed or Twitter account. We've also received some feedback about the possibility of having more than one Blue Feed in a Confluence instance, let us know if you'd like that too.
Of course, all these wonderful ideas are only preliminary, and we're really looking to build momentum and sales for the Blue. So if any of the above interests you, make sure to purchase the plugin today, that's definitely the best way to encourage us.
So there you have it, Social Networking has finally arrived to Confluence. We have a great roadmap ahead of us, we have lots of cool features in store to really become the best social plugin for Confluence, but our goal is to bring Confluence to a level where it will be able to compete against other Enterprise Social Networking platforms.
So please give Blue a chance by installing it today on your Confluence instance and let us know how you like it. We're looking for feedback and hopefully a few reviews on the Atlassian Marketplace.