Leon Mika

Follow @lmika on Micro.blog.

On Confluence

I’m sorry. I know the saying about someone complaining about their tools. But this has been brewing for a little while and I need to get it off my chest.

It’s becoming a huge pain using Atlassian Confluence WISIWIG editor to create wiki pages. Trying to use Confluence to write out something that is non-trivial, with tables and diagrams, so that it is clear to everyone in the team (including yourself) is so annoying to do now I find myself wishing for alternatives. It seems like the editor is actively resisting you in your efforts to get something down on paper.

For one thing, there’s no way to type something that begins with [ or {. Doing so will switch modes for adding links or macros. This actively breaks my train of thought. The rude surprise that comes from this shunts me out of my current thought to one that tries to remember the proper way to back out of this unwanted mode change, which is not easy to do. There’s no easy way to get out of the new mode, and simply leave the brace as you typed it. It seems to be that the only way to disable this is to turn off all auto-formatting. I never need to create new macros by typing them out, but I do use h3. to create a new headings and * to bold text all the time. In order to actually type out an opening brace, I have to turn these niceties off.

The second issue is that it’s soooo sloooow. For a large page, characters take around a second to appear on the screen after being typed. This does not help when you’re trying to get your thoughts down on the page as quickly as they come to you. You find yourself pausing and waiting for the words to catch up, which just slows your thinking down. And I won’t mention the number of errors that show up because of this (to be fair, I’m not the best typer in the world, but I find myself typing out fewer errors in an editor with faster feedback than the one that Confluence uses).

I appreciate the thinking behind moving from a plain text editor to a WISIWIG one: it does make it more approachable to users not comfortable working with a markup language (although I also believe this is something that could be learnt, and that these users will eventually get comfortable with it and appreciate the speed at which they could type things out). It’s just a shame that there’s no alternative to those who need an interface that is fast and will just get out of the way.

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