One of the disadvantages of Confluence is how difficult it is to use Tables, especially when they get large. One of the options is to keep tabular data in Excel and display the contents in Confluence. Or better still, get the data direct from a SQL Server to display in Confluence then show that data as a Chart.
Confluence 4 seems to be a bit better at handling tables, but Excel is still the king for displaying and working with Tabular data.
Some resources to help with showing Table data are:
- Viewing Office Files in Confluence – Yes, you can display Office files directly in Confluence but the options are limited and it is static content only. Also, see the screen shot of the difference between Excel content shown in Confluence 3.5 (left) and Confluence 4 (right). I can cope with the colour change, but please don’t mess with my paragraphs.
- Editing Excel Filed from Confluence – even though Confluence says this is possible, I would avoid it – it is not a very good experience at all. Just download the file, edit it and then re-upload it to the page.
- Excel Plugin – way more options for formatting the Excel contents in Confluence. Has the ability to sort columns, number formatting, colours etc. The formatting options can also be used with standard Confluence Tables or CSV data.
- SQL Plugin – run queries directly from the Server and display them in Confluence.
- Chart Macro – a standard Confluence macro that can be used to great effect.
- There are some excellent examples of all these options in the Confluence Reporting How To – a really great document showing how table data can be shown in Confluence.
- For Advanced users, use the Reporting Plugin to turn Confluence into the source data for your reporting. This plugin is amazing with what it can do.
Some tips are:
- Keep your content and formatting simple.
- Keep the original Excel files attached to the page – don’t have another copy on your file share or your local PC.
- Show only one or two tables or charts on each page – create more pages for different content.
- Use the sorting, highlighting and titles options to make the tables more interactive and user friendly.
- Keep your data updated (this is where getting data directly from the source via the SQL macro works really well).
- Give people a reason to visit the page and see this content.