Our plans for the Confluence importing tools

16 Feb 2021 5 min read

At XWiki SAS, we are committed to Open Source, whether through the way we work or develop our products. Our goal is to help users and offer a tool that enables collaborations and brings teams together. We seek to be as transparent as possible and communicate our decisions with the community so that we can receive feedback and do things better. Which is what we are doing right now by sharing our plans for the Confluence importing tools, which our team came up with as a result of the influx of users looking for Confluence alternatives and as a way of encouraging, enabling and easing collaboration for them.

Everything below is coming directly from our CEO, Ludovic Dubost, and is something XWiki SAS fully owns to and will work on. 

This is Ludovic, writing with the CEO of XWiki SAS hat, as the content of this blog post concerns the efforts XWiki SAS is focusing on. XWiki SAS is the independent company I created to work on the Open Source project, XWiki.

In light of Atlassian's announcement about its Server product line, we have decided to launch an internal effort to ease the transition and improve the tools that currently exist to help welcoming Confluence users wishing to migrate. This is not an opportunistic reaction - over the years we have created importers for various wikis such as MediaWiki, GitHub Wiki, DokuWiki and Confluence. These tools have evolved and will continue to do so, based on contributions and clients requests. Now, for the Confluence importing tools we have decided that while all our work will be Open Source (released under LGPL), some of the additional work will be released as paid applications, and we would like to explain why:

At XWiki SAS, we don't do proprietary software or use non-Open Source licences such as the SSPL. From the start, we have made it impossible for ourselves to change our licence, as we don't use CLA (Contributor Licence Agreements). This is true for the XWiki software (released on the LGPL without CLA) and also for the CryptPad software (released as AGPL without CLA). The ultimate goal of XWiki SAS is to produce more Open Source software and make sure its employees can live while doing it.

However, time has shown us that funding Open Source at scale is immensely difficult. It has also shown that many companies are taking the "free price" for granted and don't look further to contribute or find ways to make sure that the Open Source software they use is maintained and further developed. To balance this, a few years ago we decided to build "Pro/Paid Applications" - extensions to XWiki, released as LGPL, yet not for free. This approach has allowed us to talk more about funding XWiki with large companies, while also providing an easy way to contribute for smaller teams. We took it a step forward by including support for all of them. Even better, all our Support customers get the Paid Applications by default. 

We believe this is healthy for our project's continuity while staying true to our values by having 100% of the code released under an Open Source licence.

Here's a breakdown of our plan and the reasoning behind:

1. We are dedicating time to continue improving the Confluence importer (Confluence XML module) - released for free
This module is the core of the importer. As we work with customers we will make improvements and fixes and release them in this module. We are also dedicating time to reviewing contributions similar to the one received this week from Vertganti, which added 7 improvements to the importer.
 

2. We will continue to improve the Nested Pages Migrator, currently necessary to be run after import - released for free
Using these two modules, importing data from Confluence will always be possible for free.

3. We plan to work on a paid module which will include:

3a. A "simplified UI" for the importer to make it easier to import Confluence data
This module will present import options and guide the user for the import, in order to avoid any mistakes. We also plan to integrate (if possible) the "Nested migrator process", to facilitate running a one-step migration process.

3b. A set of macros to help the transition of Confluence macros
A key difficulty of the migration process is the heavy usage of macros in Confluence. There are many macros and each one of them is a specific syntax having a specific result. XWiki also has a lot of macros. Some are matching, others are not. Not having these macros is not limiting your usage of XWiki, but it creates a data-portability issue. Unfortunately, there are not standards for macros and obviously, the Confluence macros are not Open Source.
In XWiki, it's possible to write your own macros quite easily using the integrated scripting language. It is, however, a lot of work for each user as there are many macros. To solve this, we plan to build as many macros as possible as part of this package: 

  1. Some of the macros will be "bridge macros", used to transform Confluence macros to similar or equivalent macros in XWiki. They would translate the parameters to get the same result as what users had before, as much as possible. These macros will only be available as Paid Apps.
  2. Other macros will be built from scratch, matching the Confluence parameters. In this case, we will release each macro independently. We still have to decide which macros will be available as Paid Apps, and which available for free.

Some details on the Confluence Paid Applications here:

  • they will include "support/consulting" on a time-based approach
    Our experience is that we cannot guarantee perfect imports at a fixed price. However, the XWiki consultants are able to help achieve the best you can with a reasonable investment.
  • they will be usable for free in "trial mode"
    So anybody will be able to try the imports for free. We won't restrict its usage during this test period. However, the macros themselves will be tied to the licence of the paid application. Our goal here is to make sure companies understand the funding need of XWiki and their role in it. XWiki SAS will be working on a set of initial macros, but in order to continue adding macros and improving them, we need a joint effort with companies willing to support this work.
  • they will have a reasonable price (currently working on it)
    We don't want to get rich, we just want to have the resources to dedicate time and people for this. As a starting point, they will be included in our "XWiki Pro Silver" offer, a package that is less expensive than the lowest Confluence Cloud offer. Not to mention the many additional apps which would be sold as extra in Confluence.

We hope this plan will be viewed as reasonable by our community and by the current Confluence users looking for a migration path. New users coming from Confluence will be valuable for our community if, in the end, we can have more users, more contributions, more funding for the product. We want to help companies migrate, but we don't want to mislead companies that XWiki has no cost. XWiki has a cost and it's paid by those that buy services and/or contribute to the product.

We welcome your opinion on this plan and would like to thank all the users and clients that are supporting us.

Thanks
Ludovic, XWiki SAS CEO and creator of XWiki

If you have suggestions you'd like to share with us or thoughts on how we can further improve on any of the mentioned above, feel free to hop in the forum and join the discussion. We appreciate and encourage any kind of feedback that will help us make XWiki better for our users.

 

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