Confluence is more than just a wiki-based platform; it's an example of a complex system - one comprised of multiple interacting components which define the end-user experience, and impact both individual and team productivity. As such, even a seemingly small and innocent change to its existing configuration can negatively affect the work of thousands of users and inflict financial losses for companies. The following blog post will delve into the details of retaining user settings during a Confluence migration/merge/consolidation - an aspect of the overall configuration that is often overlooked due to its seemingly lower-priority status.
A typical Confluence migration, especially in regards to enterprise instances, requires a careful examination of the existing configuration and data to ensure its consistency and integrity won't be compromised during the migration process. Unfortunately, frequently teams faced with the Herculean task of a complex migration initiative tend to prioritize certain aspects over others. Individual user preferences are one such case. “Users will manually reconfigure those preferences, we have a bigger fish to fry!” is an attitude one encounters quite often when it comes to Confluence migration cases.
To better illustrate how this seemingly lower-priority Confluence configuration can have a much more significant impact than initially anticipated, I'd like to introduce three main characters- Frustrated Tony (end-user), Overwhelmed Nick (the Confluence admin), and Anxious Joe (IT manager who led the Confluence migration effort).
Monday morning, the downtime weekend of the Confluence migration is over, everything went smoothly, and the new instance is up and running. Frustrated Tony (who, at the very beginning of this anecdote is not frustrated at all) walks into the office and fires up his computer. Once he opens Confluence, it immediately struck him that something is wrong - the Confluence configuration he has been operating on until Friday evening was no longer available to him on Monday morning. Below is a list of the most common user preferences that can turn your ordinary Tony into a Frustrated Tony, which will quickly impact both Overwhelmed Nick (who will be flooded with user tickets), and Anxious Joe (who will become very anxious realizing the productivity & financial impact of this seemingly small, yet devilish detail):
The chances are that the vast majority of users are unaware of these settings - they have configured them at the very beginning of their Confluence experience; therefore these settings have become such an integral part of their day-to-day Confluence activities that they typically take them for granted.
Additionally, there are other seemingly small details about such a migration initiative, which end up causing a whole lot of headaches for everyone involved, including:
Ultimately, this small detail which is often overlooked due to its seemingly low-priority ends up impacting multiple people:
With over 6000 migrated Confluence spaces, and 3+ million pages, trust me - we've seen it ALL. Which is why we ensure that the smallest details - such as Confluence user settings - is carefully mapped, analyzed and properly migrated.
While our process is based on extensive work with Confluence Export/Import, we have developed additional in-house tooling (somewhat influenced by our existing app - Configuration Manager for Jira). This in-house tool enables us to capture and seemingly migrate user settings in a self-contained, portable file which is deployed on the Target system once all the spaces, their configuration, and data have been successfully migrated. There are three major phases to this process:
Based on our experience, our advice - whether you are a Tony (end-user), Nick (Confluence admin), or a Joe (team leader of the initiative) - is to treat your user preferences with a medium to a high-priority status. The Devil hides in the details, and something as small as a default user setting can have a significant impact on the entire complex system.
Confluence documentation regarding the topics covered in the article:
Related Atlassian bugs:
Author: Bianka Banova
Teodora VCommunity Leader
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