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File editing in Confluence Server: Atlassian Companion updates are almost here! Edited

Update: Confluence 7.3.1 and Companion 1.0.0 have been released

For more information, please refer to the Confluence 7.3.1 Release Notes, Confluence 7.3 Upgrade Notes and Atlassian Companion Release Notes.

---

Hi Community 👋🏼

It's Makisa here, Senior Product Manager for Confluence Server and Data Center and I wanted to share some updates about the file editing options in Confluence. 

Back in June last year, we spoke with a number of you to understand your current experience with Atlassian Companion, the app that enables you to edit any file type in Confluence. We heard (and saw) how you were using Companion, the benefits this feature provides, and discussed some of your ideas for improvements. Since then, we've looked at the feedback provided across multiple channels including those conversations, comments in Community, suggestions/bugs submitted to jira.atlassian.com, support tickets, and usage data.

Working with files alongside Confluence is a key part of many people's workflows and this needs to be an easy and streamlined process. We've overhauled Companion, from the way it connects with Confluence for more flexible use across virtual environments, to providing a new way of tracking the status of your files and managing uploads. Many of these changes will be available with our next feature release, Confluence 7.3.

 

Supporting Companion in more environments

We heard from admins that had certain groups of users or teams that were unable to use Companion due to how they access Confluence. We've addressed two main aspects to improve the use of Companion with session-based virtual desktops, proxies and secure infrastructure. 

  • Multi-session remote desktop environments (also known as terminal server or RDSH): We know many customers rely on these environments and this resulted in a previously unreliable file editing experience experience. We have changed how Companion connects with Confluence to maintain separate sessions for each remote desktop user. This change also improves the consistency of Companion's features across different browsers.
  • Single sign-on considerations:  Atlassian Companion's requests can only be authenticated by Confluence, not by an SSO authenticator, which caused problems for customers who were using a reverse proxy to redirect all requests to their SSO gateway. To help with this, we introduced a more specific URL path (/token-api/) that you can use to allow these specific requests to pass through to Confluence, while still blocking all other requests. Head to Administering the Atlassian Companion App for more detail. 

CONFSERVER-56302 - Atlassian Companion app does not work with session-based virtual desktops or virtual app streaming

CONFSERVER-56544 - Allow Companion app to connect to Confluence without requiring infrastructure changes

CONFSERVER-57593 - Edit in App does not work when Confluence is integrated transparent SSO (and 2FA)

 

Easily upload and view updated files in Confluence

It wasn't always clear as to the status of the files you were working with, so we have developed an all new Companion task window to take some of the mystery out of this process.

UploadState4.png

Through this Companion window, as you save changes in your working file, you will be able to easily upload a new version back to Confluence. We have also removed the default, and arguably redundant, 'Uploaded by Companion' comment that appeared in the version history.

CONFSERVER-57605 - Improve Atlassian Companion to allow multiple saves

CONFSERVER-57978 - Hide the "Uploaded from Companion app" comment in the attachments macro for all files edited in the Companion App

 

Making the installation process easier

As Companion is a separate app, we understand that the installation process adds a layer of complexity for admins and their team members that are already running Confluence. In a future update of Companion, we will have improvements to the installation flow such as updated messaging to ease some of the friction in this process. We have documented the installation steps for admins to reference and will be reviewing the MSI installation process. 

Readytoeditv2 copy.png

CONFSERVER-58660 - Add warning about permissions to install to the download prompt for Companion App

CONFSERVER-58427 - Add Link for Troubleshooting the Companion App in its Popup Dialogue

 

Compliance with internal security policies

Many organisations have internal policies that require new applications/software to be evaluated prior to use, particularly from a security standpoint. With Atlassian Companion being a separate downloadable executable app to Confluence, we have taken this opportunity to review several issues in relation to where Companion creates and stores files. These will be addressed in an upcoming release.

CONFSERVER-57370 - Companion App creates ".tmp.node" files in user's local appdata directory

CONFSERVER-58527 - Store temporary files for Atlassian Companion App outside of the Roaming profile on Windows 

 

Choose the file editing method that is best for your instance

These new Companion improvements will be available soon. However, if it's still not possible for your organisation to use Companion, you can enable the legacy Edit in Office feature across your entire instance.

 

Thank you for your feedback

We have more updates to come for Companion. Please track the related Jira tickets for updates. Thank you for your suggestions and feedback as we continue to improve the file editing experience in Confluence. Please let me know how you find the improvements, once you've had a chance to try these with Confluence Server or Data Center 7.3+.

 

5 comments

Davin Studer Community Leader Jan 29, 2020

Looking forward to trying it out again.

Like # people like this

Thanks for listening!

Like # people like this

Can you also motivate mozilla to patch their ESR version to allow mixed-content to local-host which is required now with the companion app since the local call is no longer encrypted?

Our research suggests that Confluence 7.3 no longer uses a local websocket when launching documents with the Companion, so it looks like you won't need to worry about that problem after you upgrade. Maybe someone from Atlassian can confirm with certainty.

Like # people like this

Yes @Jonathan, thanks @Scott Dudley _Cenote_ this browser issue should no longer be a problem due to the way that Companion will connect with Confluence following our updates. Confluence 7.3 and Companion 1.0.0 are now both available.

Like # people like this

Is there a Beta version available for testing purposes?

Thanks Gonchik =)

Like Gonchik Tsymzhitov likes this

Any BETA Version for the Companion App only available?

Like Gonchik Tsymzhitov likes this
Davin Studer Community Leader Feb 28, 2020

The new Companion app was released with Confluence 7.3. You can get it here.

https://confluence.atlassian.com/doc/administering-the-atlassian-companion-app-958456281.html

Like # people like this

When you say we can still use Edit in Office, is this only in 6.15.6 when its enabled as a Dark Feature? At the moment we are stuck on this version and will not upgrade until Companion App becomes more usable. A single user has multiple files open which they save throughout the day, and this updates Confluence. I can't see this is possible using CA still. 

Hi @ShelleyDee - Companion App 1.0.0 available with 7.3.1 has many improvements (including those described above). The scenario you mention with a single user wanting to update and upload multiple files throughout the day will definitely have an easier time with the new Companion. The new Companion dialog will show the multiple files as they are changed to make uploading the new versions a lot simpler. 

Hopefully, you won't need to revert to Edit in Office if upgrading to 7.3.x but the best page to refer to for the compatibility with Edit in Office is https://confluence.atlassian.com/confkb/enable-edit-in-office-as-a-dark-feature-in-confluence-978217013.html#EnableEditinOfficeasadarkfeatureinConfluence-compatibility Please note that from 7.3.x, Edit in Office won't need to be enabled via a dark feature and is available as an option in the config area for the Office Connector.

Please let me know what you think of the new flow and dialog of Companion, once you've tried it out.

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