Scroll Office

This is a guest post by Stefan Kleineikenscheidt of K15t Software, one of Atlassian’s official partners. This post highlights the new features shipped in the latest release of Scroll Office, a Confluence plugin that allows you to collaborate and author your technical documentation in the wiki and generate beautifully styled Word documents with a single click.

Released in August 2010, Scroll Office is a Confluence plugin that provides firstclass Microsoft Word export. What does that mean? With Scroll Office you can export multiple Confluence pages at the same time, creating a native Word 2007/2010 file that uses a Word template to style the output. In this post you’ll learn how to leverage the new features of Scroll Office 2.1 to generate more advanced Word documents from your technical documentation.

3 Killer Features

1. More Flexible Placeholders

2. Index Generation

3. Plugin API for customization and extension of Scroll Office

1. Placeholders: Use Confluence Metadata in the Export

The look of a Word document generated by Scroll Office is defined by a Microsoft Word template. To define a Scroll Office template you have to create a Word file, insert styles, page headers/footers, a title page and so on, and upload the file to Confluence. During export, Scroll Office inserts the content from user-selected Confluence pages into the Word template and automatically assigns the correct style.

Additionally, the templates can contain so-called placeholders. During export Scroll Office can replace the placeholders with metadata from Confluence, such as the page creator’s name or email adress. In Scroll Office 2.1 it is also possible to access metadata from the Metadata 2 plugin.

Template Example

The following example combines this feature with Confluence page templates. The Confluence template allows users to quickly create a new page defining a job description, which includes a table of metadata (under “Job Description”):

wiki-placeholders.png

In the Scroll Office template the placeholders are used to output the title and the content of the job description (using $scroll.title and $scroll.content).

In order to output the metadata in the page header, the metadata placeholders such as $scroll.metadata.(job_code) are used to output the value of the job_code metadata. (Please note that the section “Job Description” is not in the Word document as it has been excluded by using the {scroll-ignore} macro, which omits its body in the export):

placeholder-output-example.png

Hint: It is also possible to develop custom placeholders using the new Scroll API (see below)

2. Indexes: Beyond Simple Table of Contents

If you prepare large documents for printing, you may want to add overview tables to improve readability and searchability. Beyond creating a basic tables of contents, Scroll Office 2.1 now supports subject indexes.

Subject indexes, are by default, created from page labels. However, Scroll Office also comes with the {index-term} macro, which allows to more granular specify the location of the index term within a page and to define primary, secondary and tertiary index terms.

For example the macro {index-term:primary=Apple|secondary=MacIntosh} will result in the following entry in the index:

index-generation.png

3. Pluginable: Customize Scroll Office

We’ve received a lot of feedback since releasing Scroll Office 2.0. There were a number of additional feature requests and we soon realized that we did not have the capacity to implement all of them. So we decided to open up Scroll Office and provide a plugin API, which can be used by any Confluence plugin developer. The plugin API is built on top of the Atlassian plugin system and defines three plugin modules.

For example the page selection plugin module allows you to plug-in an algorithm to select the Confluence pages and the order in which should be exported. The following screenshot shows a prototype of our baseline selection strategy. In practice it allows you to export a set of pages of a a certain version.

page-selection-plugin-module.png

Please find more information about our API in the Scroll Office Developer Guide.

Small (but Handy) Improvements

Export Original Version of Thumbnail Images

Some of our users mentioned that they often display images in Confluence as thumbnails, but they wanted the high-resolution image in place of the thumbnail when exporting using Scroll Office. We are proud to announce that Scroll Office will now replace thumbnail images with the actual image.

Override Confluence Page Titles

We’ve also made it possible to override the Confluence page title. Why would one do that? As you might know, page titles are limited in Confluence: they only allow certain characters and they have to be unique within a space. With the {scroll-pagetitle} macro its possible to freely define a page title, which is exported by Scroll Office instead of the actual page title.

Support for Word Macros

Last but not least: Scroll Office now also supports Word templates with Word macros (*.docm files). But don’t mix them up with Confluence macros: Instead a Word macro “is a series of Word commands and instructions that you group together as a single command to accomplish a task automatically.” (taken from the Microsoft Office Word Online Help). Word macros are written in Visual Basic and can be used for additional formatting such as advanced table formatting.

Get Started for FREE

Try it out right now on the Scroll Office demo Confluence site.

Want to test it with on your own system? Install Scroll Office via the Universal Plugin Manager in your Confluence admin console, or download it from the Atlassian Plugin Exchange. Once installed, sign up for a free 30-day evaluation license.

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