Learning and getting used to a new software can be a challenging task especially if there are a multitude of terms and concepts associated with it. I remember when I started using Confluence a while back, there were a lot of things that seemed rather confusing in terms of terminology, not necessarily usage though. Confluence templates and blueprints were definitely top of that list. Although I kind of understood the whole idea of both in some capacity, I couldn’t get my head around the differences because they seemed the same, at least for me… And there lays the answer (a bit of foreshadowing!)
If you’d like to learn the difference between Confluence templates and blueprints and don’t have time to scroll through Confluence documentation, then this article is just for you. We’ll first define both Confluence templates and blueprints, learn the differences, and show you how to get started.
Lets start with Confluence templates
Basically, a Confluence template is a pre-defined page that deals with a specific use case. For example, you are a product marketing manager, and there are a host of pages that you will be using constantly such as meeting notes, product launch plans, and more. Without having to create a page from scratch, you can simply use and customize an existing template or import one you have been using on Google Drive for example. By default, Confluence comes with all sorts of templates tailored to a variety of needs.
Now… What about blueprints?
Simply put, blueprints are templates on steroids. Remember when I said in the intro that they seemed the same, at least for me? Well, if you are an end-user, they are more or less the same with some slight differences. If you are a site or space admin, this is where you would start to notice the differences.
Why Templates & Blueprints?
Before we dive into the differences, let’s explore some of the benefits of using templates and blueprints.
- Ensure content quality and consistency: Inconsistent content is not easy on the eye and often leads to unwanted confusion. With blueprints and templates, you can ensure that similar pieces of content share the same structure across your Confluence instance. This uniformity enhances readability and enables users to quickly find and consume content.
- Save your users time and enhance efficiency: By utilizing blueprints and templates, your teams can save time on formatting and organizing Confluence pages from scratch. The predefined structures and content placeholders enable teams to focus on the actual content creation rather than spending excessive time on formatting details.
- Foster Collaboration: With templates, it is easier for your teams to collaborate on Confluence pages. With consistent structures, individuals can quickly access and share Confluence pages with other team members fostering collaboration and knowledge sharing.
- Flexibility and Customization: While Confluence blueprints act as a starting point, they can be customized to fit your needs and team processes. You can edit the default templates through the click of a button by adding information and additional macros (be it native or from the Atlassian Marketplace).
Confluence Templates Vs Blueprints: The differences
Confluence Blueprints are templates with a host of added functionality and features designed to make life easier for both the end-user and the site/space admins. Although templates don’t require coding skills to be created or edited, creating Confluence blueprints from scratch require basic if not advanced coding skills (depending on the complexity).
First, pages generated using blueprints are automatically sorted into an index list making them easier to access.
Additionally, blueprints are highly customizable and can be automatically populated via the use of existing macros.
Last but not least, blueprints can be highlighted in the “Create Page” dialog to promote usage and facilitate access.
Get started with templates and blueprints
To access both templates and blueprints at a site level, navigate to “Settings” > Global templates and blueprints. There you will find all templates across your Confluence site.
Upon starting, you can only access default templates and customize them to fit your needs. All you have to do is click “Edit” and add any information or macros to reflect your own processes.
At a space level, you can manage your templates by navigating to “Space Settings” > “Templates”. Here you will find the exact same templates as the global view.
On the one hand, It is a common best practice to promote blueprints for specific spaces in order for them to be shown first. For example, promoted blueprints for a software development space might include “Sprint Planning Meeting” or “Project Kick-off”. On the other hand, you might need to disable templates that are deemed not needed for a specific space.
To conclude, both Confluence templates and blueprints offer a host of benefits in terms of content quality, time-saving, collaboration, and customization. Deciding on which one to work with depends entirely on your teams’ preferences, content creation habits and familiarity with coding.