Mar
18
2021
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Atlassian peps up Confluence with new graphical design features

Confluence, Atlassian’s wiki-like collaborative workspace, has been around for more than 15 years, and is often a core knowledge-sharing tool for the companies that implement it. But for the most part, Confluence is a business tool and looks like it, with walls of text and the occasional graph, table or image. But user expectations have changed, and so it’s maybe no major surprise that Atlassian is now bringing a stronger emphasis on design to the service.

Today’s update, for example, brings to the service features like cover images, title emojis and customizable space avatars (that is, “icons that denote a ‘space’ or section of Confluence”). The team also recently introduced smart links, which allow you to paste links from services like YouTube and Trello and have the service immediately recognize them and display them in their native format. Other new features include the ability to schedule when a new page is published and the ability to convert pages to blog posts (because, as it turns out, Atlassian has seen a bit of a resurgence in corporate blogging — mostly for internal audiences — during the pandemic).

Image Credits: Atlassian

“We ended up doing something that we called ‘love sprint,’ where we prioritize about 30 features for the enhancements, which are all — if you think about the themes — about how you design information in this world where you have to read more, where you have to write more,” Natalia Baryshnikova, the head Of Product Management for Atlassian’s Confluence Experience Group, told me. “And there’s the attention span that’s kind of pushing its limits. So how do you design for that situation? How do you discover our content?”

Baryshnikova tells me that the team took a close look at how content production, management and delivery works in the social media world. But some of the new features are also purely a reaction to a changing work environment. Take the ability to schedule when pages are published, for example. Employees who work from home may work especially late or early right now, for example, in order to prioritize childcare. But they still want the content they produce to be seen inside the company, and that can be hard when you would otherwise publish it at 11 p.m., for example.

Image Credits: Atlassian

And having your content get noticed is getting harder because Confluence usage has dramatically increased in the last 12 months. As Atlassian noted today, more than 60,000 companies are now using the service. And inside those companies, those users are also far more active than ever before. The number of Confluence pages created from March 2020 to March 2021 increased by more than 33%. The average user now creates 11% more pages, but the product’s superusers have often doubled or tripled their output.

The use of Confluence has also helped many companies reduce their number of meetings, but as Baryshnikova noted, “not only are pages competing with meetings — but pages are competing with pages.” So using good graphics, for example, is a way for a user’s content to stand out in the noise of corporate content production. Which, I have to admit, strikes me as a somewhat strange dynamic. But I guess that just like on the web, in order to stand out in a corporate environment, you have to make the documents you produce stand out in order to get noticed. Maybe that — as well as the lack of watercooler conversations — is also the reason corporate blogging is seeing an uptick right now.

Nov
28
2018
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Amazon Textract brings intelligence to OCR

One of the challenges just about every business faces is converting forms to a useful digital format. This has typically involved using human data entry clerks to enter the data into the computer. State of the art involved using OCR to read forms automatically, but AWS CEO Andy Jassy explained that OCR is basically just a dumb text reader. It doesn’t recognize text types. Amazon wanted to change that and today it announced Amazon Textract, an intelligent OCR tool to move data from forms to a more useable digital format.

In an example, he showed a form with tables. Regular OCR didn’t recognize the table and interpreted it as a string of text. Textract is designed to recognize common page elements like a table and pull the data in a sensible way.

Jassy said that forms also often change, and if you are using a template as a workaround for OCR’s lack of intelligence, the template breaks if you move anything. To fix that, Textract is smart enough to understand common data types like Social Security numbers, dates of birth and addresses, and interprets them correctly no matter where they fall on the page.

“We have taught Textract to recognize this set of characters is a date of birth and this is a Social Security number. If forms change, Textract won’t miss it,” Jassy explained.

more AWS re:Invent 2018 coverage

Aug
05
2015
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Workfront Raises $33M For Its Enterprise Work Management Service

ipad-workfront-view Work management solution Workfront (previously known as AtTask) today announced that it has raised a $33 million Series E funding round led by growth equity firm JMI Equity, which also previously led the company’s $38 million Series D round last year. Greenspring Global Partners and Atlas Peak also participated in this round. The company has now raised a total of $95 million.… Read More

May
07
2014
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Workshare Scores $8.4M Line Of Credit from Wells Fargo

Arial view of group of working professionals Workshare, a company that helps law firms and others manage, secure and collaborate around documents, today announced financing of $8.4M in the form of a revolving line of credit from the Technology Finance Division of Wells Fargo Capital Finance. The line of credit is in addition to $33.8M in funding they received in September, 2012, which they used to expand the company’s product… Read More

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