Compare XWiki to Confluence

Last modified by Ecaterina Moraru (Valica) on 2017/11/28


The aim of this page is to compare two of the best known professional wikis: Confluence and XWiki. We have other dedicated pages if you want to compare XWiki to other solutions.

About XWiki and Confluence

XWiki

XWiki is an Open Source project supported and developed by the XWiki community and by XWiki SAS. Because of the LGPL license, you own your wiki and its data. It is developed in Java and distinguishes itself from the other wikis by offering enterprise-oriented features

Other strengths include flexibility and scalability. XWiki is an application development platform, so it allows the creation of dedicated/specific applications. Lots of extensions, applications and macros are available in the Extensions repository.

In terms of business uses, XWiki is used by teams to create knowledge bases and collaborative workspaces but also across the company as an intranet, extranet, website, etc. XWiki counts amongst its clients big companies, such as: Amazon, AFP, EDF, DCNS, EMC, EADS but also SMEs and associations.

Confluence

Confluence is a team collaboration software. Written in Java and mainly used in corporate environments, it is developed and marketed by Atlassian, the Australian company best known for Jira, its issue tracking application. Confluence is sold as either on-premises software or as a hosted solution.

Confluence is a business-oriented professional wiki with advanced features. Compatible with many databases, Confluence is a proprietary software, but it also offers free licenses for open source projects and reduced pricing for non-profit organizations. 

Confluence is used by many companies around the world: Facebook, eBay, Adobe, etc. In terms of business usage, Confluence is used by one or more teams to share, find and interact with information. Confluence is mainly used as an enterprise collaborative tool.

Comparison between XWiki and Confluence

 XWikiConfluenceWhy is it important?
Free and Open Source Yes No, paid license, but free for open-source and reduced pricing for non-profit organizationsOpen Source protects your investment through reversibility and extensibility.
LicenseLGPLCommercial / Proprietary 
TechnologyJavaJava 
Operating SystemWindows, Linux and Unix variants, MacOS and all platforms supporting JDK 1.8 or higherWindows, Linux and Unix variants, MacOS and all platforms supporting JDK 1.8 or higher 
DatabasesMySQL / PostgreSQL / Oracle MySQL / PostgreSQL / Oracle 
Cloud version Yes + Trial + Free hosting on myxwiki.org for individuals/non-profit Yes + Trial 
UsagesKnowledge base, Collaboration for teams, Business application, Intranet, Extranet, Public website, Support, DocumentationA wiki for teams, Knowledge base, DocumentationXWiki's extensibility will allow to go beyond the simple wiki and respond to enterprise needs, including public websites and general collaboration tools.
Translations38 languages15 languages 
Classic wiki features Yes YesBoth solutions provide Page and File Versioning, Templates, Rights, Search, Discussions, etc.
WYSIWYG Editor Yes YesFrom version 8+, XWiki uses CK Editor, one of the best WYSIWYG editor with advanced features.
Wiki Syntax Editor Yes No

For advanced users, Wiki syntax editing is more efficient and, when creating pages for public display, it allows fine-grained control over the page.

Confluence has been criticized for dropping markup in favor of HTML only (forcing users to use Confluence's WYSIWYG editor). It is no longer possible to edit, copy or see the wiki syntax because the content is no longer stored in the "wiki format. On the other hand XWiki has made the choice to fully support several markup syntaxes in addition to offering a powerful WYSIWYG editor.

Office documents import/export and Office/PDF viewers Yes YesXWiki offers the ability to import from various formats and syntaxes, including Microsoft Office documents. You can turn your unstructured Office documents into wiki pages and gather multiple files into an organized instance. Data export is available in many formats (PDF, HTML, XAR).
Extensible Yes Yes

Both solutions support lots of extensions (Macros, Blog, Forum, File Manager, Ideas, Meetings, Calendar, Tasks, etc.) suited for different use cases.

However the main difference is that XWiki can be customized directly in wiki pages and doesn't require to go in development mode as you would with Confluence. For example if you install, say, the Blog Extension, you'll be able to customize every single aspect of its UI, add more buttons, move them around, etc.

App Store Yes YesBoth wikis offer a large variety of extensions for various needs. Currently XWiki store contains mostly free extensions but it's adding more and more paying extensions. By comparison the Confluence one contains mostly paying extensions. Globally, the Confluence store currently contains more polished extensions than the XWiki one.
Authentication LDAP / AD / SSO Yes Yes 
Multi-wikis Yes, each sub-wiki can be fully customized independently No, Confluence has work spaces which are limited in functionalities and customization possibilitiesIn XWiki you can create multiple independent sub-wikis, each with a set of totally different collaborative extensions. The wikis decide if they want to share or not users, extensions or customizations.
Theming and Styling Yes Partial, mostly done through third-party extensionsXWiki provides multiple ways to completely alter the styling of your instance. You can start selecting from predefined Color and Icon Themes, to integrating small changes through CSS just for some pages, to the ability of totally change the look and feel by customizing the Skin.
Programming capabilitiesVERY ADVANCED, Java but also full API access through scripting in various languages: Velocity, Groovy, Python, plus Ruby, PHP with extensionBASIC, only possible via extensions or using JavaThe programming capabilities allows XWiki to adapt to the project's needs increasing the project's success. By using scripting, this is accessible to more people including some non-developers by reusing examples from others, and for developers the development speed is much higher.
Structured Data Yes Partial, mostly done through third-party extensionsXWiki's unique structure feature will enhance the value of information for all users. Also App Within Minutes allows end users to benefit from XWiki's powerful data management system and easily create applications.

Source: www.wikimatrix.org

In terms of features and technologies, XWiki and Confluence look very similar in appearance. Both are developed in Java and include many features by default. Extensions and plugins are available and they can extend other functionalities.

The major difference lies mainly in the capacity of customization and developments around the software. While Confluence is a proprietary software that is rather rigid (i.e. standard solution for all clients / to take as is) and can be hosted by Atlassian or by itself, XWiki is a completely open development platform that can be easily adapted to any specific business need.

Why use XWiki rather than Confluence?

XWiki is the Open Source leader while Confluence is the proprietary software leader.

An open model

XWiki is a 100% Open Source software (developed under the LGPL license), unlike Confluence, a proprietary software.

This brings a number of benefits.

  • From the innovation point of view. At XWiki, we believe that innovation is led by transparency and free competition. With Open Source, the contributors are protected and they know that their investment will be maximized because it can be taken freely by other contributors who will improve it and give back to the community. Everyone enjoys contributions from others.
  • Better adapted to the market needs. Open Source software is developed openly. The contributors provide ideas, raise bugs, send fixes or suggest new features. The Open Source community helps the software developers to better meet the market needs. If the main developers are reluctant to develop some features, the community can develop them.
    In addition, Open Source software is often more open (through APIs), more standard-compliant and also easier to update.
  • No limit to adaptations. Beyond the traditional extension capabilities (plugins, look and style adaptations) that proprietary software also supports, for Open Source there is no adaptability limit: it is always possible to access the source code and make a new version of the software. Even if proprietary software could be designed to allow some adaptations, there will still be cases where, without modifying the software code, some changes will not be possible. This will never be the case with open source software.
  • Lock-in reduction and reversibility in the Cloud. This is a very important point for users. Even if proprietary publishers can offer reversibility for cloud services, this reversibility is rarely checked. With the Open Source software, you can test this reversibility yourself. With Open Source, there is no lock-in, that means that you can always change your hosting provider and support if you are not satisfied. You can still update the software. With proprietary software, you will have to abandon it.
  • Updates under control. As the software is Open Source and often updated (instead of the usual 3-year cycles for proprietary software), improvements are added gradually (at least this is the case for XWiki) with a commitment on strong backward compatibility. Users can control the updates. Even if the publisher decides to limit the backward compatibility to some versions, users can freely choose to do the complex (or not complex) update, since they can turn to a developer who wants to continue to support the old version.
    The ability to update is a key point for business software, especially when you add personal customization to the software. Often with proprietary software, updates are complicated because the software is heavily modified at each major release to "enhance" the new version license sales.

A tool that can be used across your business

Unlike Confluence, XWiki is very extensible. Specifically, it allows you to start using XWiki for a department's special needs within your company and see how it works. If the project "takes off" and the other departments want to use it, then XWiki can "evolve" and become a true Intranet.

XWiki import services

If you are a Confluence user, it is possible to import your data into XWiki with our import modules.

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Created by Ecaterina Moraru (Valica) on 2017/10/05
   

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