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The Confluence editor is TERRIBLE. What can be done for cloud/hosted customers?

Does this feature cause more work than it saves?

This is a question you should always ask yourself. It is clear that the Confluence editor team has never seriously considered this.

The Confluence editor regularly creates 12 times as much work for me than a plain text document. Where possible I write documentation on Stack Overflow or create a gist on github and link to that. I have many unfinished documents that never get published because I can't get the formatting to not suck.

What can be done? Why does Atlassian not do something about this? There is no way that they use internally, what I am paying for, without hating it.

32 comments

There's always room for feedback, and room for improvement.  Cloud has some limitations because of the way Atlassian maintains and upgrades that environment.  The need there is to be consistent across many instances.

Have you thought about providing the founders feedback?  You might get a response - but certainly, I'd suggest proposing a solution with your feedback so they can take that back to the team and make change happen.

I would assert its not anyone at Atlassian who should be asserting what paying customers confluence sites look like.  Imposing a layout, removing tools to design layouts as desired is simply a disregard for your customer base.  Whomever is driving customer experience should be taken to task.  This is not Wordpress!

I have been watching the evolution of Confluence since very early on and progressively the tools to fully control how content is presented and ability to nuance structure erode with each successive release. First you introduced the Wysiwig editor (and kept the wiki markup (a la C2.com) but then you changed your storage format and too bad for those who liked wiki markup.  Then the macros slowly started to disappear..  etc. etc..

If the desire is to provide layout options to the user base that's one thing but forcing a single view and removing the ability to control layout and related tooling creates discontent for your loyal fans. Making it easier for some at the expense of removing tooling that has built a loyal fan base is a questionable strategy which could come back to haunt. 

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Phil Oye Atlassian Team Oct 23, 2017

Thanks @Bruno Bronosky for the feedback. I'm a product manager on Confluence Cloud and I look after the editor.

The editor is an area of intense focus for us. We are in the process of rolling out some changes now, which you can read more about in this post here on Community.

But we're not stopping there, we feel your pain and are actively working to address it. 

If there are specific bugs, you can help by reporting them via Support

The bug is that no WYSIWYG editor has ever worked. They all fail. A rich text document is a data structure. We need to be able to see and edit that data structure in order to effectively communicate our intend to the rendering engine. If that data structure is Markdown, let us see and edit the Markdown. If that data structure is HTML, XML, or something more unintelligible, we need to be able to edit that (however, you may want reconsider how you store your data).

What you must not do is rely on inference of intent. You cannot accurately infer. You must empower us to tell you our intent.

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Phil Oye Atlassian Team Oct 23, 2017

[Copying my response to your other post]

Thanks for your feedback about this.

We introduced the rich-text editor as the only way to edit content back in 2011. Our goal then, which is unchanged today, is to ensure Confluence is suitable for everyone in an organisation. We found that editing markup was the number one barrier to adoption.

Before we maintained a dual-editor experience (rich text vs markup) and it caused huge issues for our customers, had even more bugs, and prevented us from introducing advanced editing features.

We still believe we made the best decision based on the feedback we received from the majority of our customers over the years. The rich-text editor is our path going forward.

We know that it our editor isn't perfect, but we are committed to improving it to ensure all teams can collaborate in Confluence.

Phil

I strongly disagree with your assessment. The removal of the wiki markup editor was a HUGE problem for us and has greatly increased the time it take for us to create our content.

If the dual editor has more bugs that is not the user's fault. That is Atlassian's problem and we should not suffer because of your inability to fix those bugs.

I'm sure some users like the new editor, but please don't generalize by saying that this is suitable for everyone because it certainly is not.

Also, your user community board blew up back in then, just as it did a few months ago when you changed the interface for the Cloud users. Unfortunately, your Atlassian's response was the same back then as it was this time around - a little lip service and just allowed time to pass so it would die down.

Thanks for listening to one more dissenting voice.

Sandy

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Phil Oye Atlassian Team Oct 26, 2017

Thanks @Sandy Johnson for pointing out the everyone is much too strong a word. I would update it to say "to target as many people as possible in an organisation".

Wikimarkup was great for some people, but unfortunately, not so great for many more, hence our decision.

Thank you for the direct feedback, it is important for us to hear it.

I don't care about wikimarkup versus anything else. What I care about is precision. If I, as an engineer, cannot specify to your application precisely where I want formatting to start and end, then your editor is not suitable for everyone. I would posit that it is not suitable for anyone because I don't know anyone who will exert as much effort to solve a problem as I do. This editor is suitable only to those who settle for what they cannot change. If you want your tools to be accepted by people who write software for a living, you cannot say to them, "those same pseudo-technical people you argue with in meetings were struggling with the editor so we brought it down to their level by stripping away what made it useful to you.

By the way, if I want to insert an inline code block, I'm going to do it whether your tool allows me to or not.

  1. If I want lists
    • with lists inside them
      • with lists inside them
  2. Yo Dawg!
  3. That's exactly
    • what I'll get

What I'm trying to say is that it is in your best interest that you find a way to empower others and make life easier on people like me while you are at it.

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BTW, in order to get things as simple as <code> blocks for the inline code block above, I had to use Chrome Developer Tools to edit the DOM of the TinyMCE iframe. Some changes require that I alter the tinyMCE javascript object in memory to edit the valid_children, valid_classes, valid_elements, and valid_styles. It should not be this difficult.

https://www.tinymce.com/docs/configure/content-filtering/#valid_children

Like Jennifer Hemmens likes this

Any updates on editor improvements?

nic Community Leader May 07, 2018

Yup, this was asked a year ago.  Atlassian has moved on.

Ah, so there's no scheduled changes to allow editing for of a markup language then?

I guess this has become of less importance for Atlassian. We see the WYSIWYG editors all over the place, MS Teams is one of those which cannot handle a simple code block anymore. A selling point for CEO-level PPT/Excel operators.

My company is transitioning away from Confluence for technical docs. We are going to use reST, Git, and Sphinx to generate the documentation anyway we like. Partially but not entirely because Confluence has become a time hog and a source of frustration.

I'm still after 5 years of using Confluence from time to time at various places confused why I always get an extra space character at the beginning of a cell in a table. Is that a feature or a bug?

I still like Bitbucket though, hope Atlassian can focus on that one! :)

Agree. The Confluence editor is HORRIBLE. Almost unusable. Really thinking of scrapping Atlassian entirely over this one issue.

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Agreed. Absolutely horrendous. Can not believe how many customers have to suffer using it. Linking to a gist on github is a perfect solution. Feel free to close the ticket

Confused: if I have to link a Jira issue to github so I can make clear communication on an issue description or comment, why would I use Jira as my issue management system? 

The worst specially with lists.

Like Steven Knudsen likes this

Numbered lists are unusable.

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Completely agree with the most recent few comments. 

Users should not have to essentially write code to create a description or comment on an issue.

Could not agree more with these sentiments. One of our project managers has begun an initiative to migrate our github wiki pages to confluence, and the contrast between the two editors, in both ease of use and features, is staggering.

I would not hesitate to describe the experience as "soul crushing".

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We just use Google Docs for collaboration and use Confluence cloud to publish. However, we are looking at other options as we keep running into unforeseen obstacles - base functionality are paid for add-ons, just learned anonymous access to Confluence doesn't play well with Jira access, etc.

So, there were text entry experts who used markup to get their work done and novices who tried to use markup because the WYSIWYG editor was unusable. And Atlassian's solution to the novices' frustration was to remove markup to focus on WYSIWYG? Best case scenario: the novices are happy, and the experts get can't their work done. It's mind-boggling.

I want to edit my documents in Vim. No WYSIWYG will come anywhere close in convenience. Especially not a laggy web app.

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The editor is the most counterintuitive thing ever. I can't type or format anything. For example;

 

- The undo (cmd + z) does not undo the previous changes. No, it goes 3 changes back???

- When I have a list and I want to remove the indentation of 1 line, it transfers my current line to the previous line. Even if the line above is a code block. It transfers the line INTO the code block. Why would anyone want that? A code block should be a self-contained thing and nothing to do with the rest of the text.

- Inside a code block when trying to select everything with the all known global shortcut cmd + a, it selects everything in the entire page. Why? Just why???? Again it should be a self-contained thing. 

- Trying to indent something with tab does not work and you rotate with all the functions in the toolbar. But only when you have an indentation then it does work. 

- Lists are just awful. When editing a list it does nothing that you think it does. Backspacing on a bullet point, let's go to the previous line (wtf). And when you try to undo that, it undoes the previous 4 changes that you made. 

- The shortcuts for deleting words (alt + backspace) and deleting lines (cmd + backspace) never behave as you want. Deleting lines does not clear the bullet point and deleting words does not adhere to most common word breaks.

 

I can go on but I'm having a hard time not to curse and scream when thinking about it. It takes me sooooo long to format it. I understand for your average Joe it might work but I don't know if your average Joe is the one you should focus one. I really don't know how people work with this or if the creators even try it themselves. Even writing in HTML is faster and easier than this. 

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So agree. And very unhappy that I recommended to a brand new customer that we do all the doc work in Confluence. I feel I just hurt that customer.

Ha Ha Ha... even here things are broken. When I made the reply above, my name was shown. Now I am "full_name", though I think it should have been spelled with an 'l' instead of 'n'

I cannot figure out how to make a nested list.

 

This is not a complicated document structure by any means, I remember being taught how to create document drafts in this manner at around 10 years old in school. If I had been forced to use this editor, I would have failed that unit.

 

Absolutely unacceptable.

Like Joel likes this

I've had fairly good luck creating raw list markup in a text editor (a la VSCode), and then inserting it into Confluence's rich text editor via Insert > Markup. Nested lists created directly in the RTE fall apart when the browser is resized. Using this method for some reason creates something different and it works well even when the browser is resized.

* Level 1 entry

** Level 2 entry

** Level 2 entry

* Level 1 entry

Etc. The imported lists then seem to remain stable when edited directly in the RTE.

The WYSIWYG editor is total garbage. This debacle has been going on for years! Shameful. Better tools must exist at this point (then anything by Atlassian, if they continue to inflict this editor upon us.)

Like # people like this

Have to agree with everyone here.  Most frustrating editor I have ever used!  Please fix or replace it!

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Like # people like this

The confluence WYSIWYG editor is complete and utter garbage! This has been going on for years! What a complete debacle. Atlassian is completely wrong on this one! I have been struggling for hours to create a very simple document that takes me literally minutes in github. Absolutely unacceptable that Atlassian continues to support this steaming pile of crap. Just read the comments! Everyone hates the editor, wake up Atlassian.

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Clearly people who know markdown dislike the WYSIWYG editor; why not let us type in markdown? Make it some obscure setting if you don't want to confuse novices, but at least understand that your audience is using GitHub regularly and finds this editor to be vastly inferior to just typing the markdown themselves. Frankly, the comment box I'm typing this in is a superior experience.

Like Joel likes this

Just wait until you see the new ...

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frank I'm New Here Mar 15, 2019

i want so much to like confluence because of how well it can solve some problems but the stone age formatting capabilities makes it a hard sell. then the world of macros and add-ons that would make up for the deficit are essentially not there due to the unrealistic permissions requirement that prevent many cloud users from having access to them. so it's rather a shame to see Atlassian being blind to an enormous market opportunity .

@Bruno Bronosky for how long have you been using Confluence? I'm asking this because recently they tried to deploy a dumbed down Editor and it was a failure, I think in part due to feedback of people who say it was too complex.

If anyone thinks the current editor is too complex what does the same person thinks of the Word Editor? My suspicion is that you haven't used Confluence at all and that kind of feedback makes product owners try to dumb down the product which ultimately results in utter disaster.

I have been using Confluence for technical documentation for the last 4 years and I love the current editor. It's simple, effective, uncomplicated and layouts give you a lot of freedom.

if you want a page to look beautiful its going to give you a little bit of work, but that's it, then you have a template you can reuse many times over.

Try to open your mind a little bit and use the Confluence editor to understand its features. Look at examples and you will see it is actually very effective.

Joao, what does MSWord have anything to do with the confluence editor?

 

People aren't complaining that the new editor is too complex. They're complaining that it is actually just broken. Because it is, completely broken.

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This is absolutely the worst document editor I've ever tried to use.

Like # people like this

The confluence visual editor is probably the worst thing I have ever had to use to produce technical documentation. Even the horrible Word does a better job.

I can't even create a `preformatted` text consistently. Sometimes the backticks work, sometimes they dont. Copy-pasting text from other sources breaks the formatting even though it's just two words with no special characters or line breaks.

I've just spend over 15 minutes to produce two lines of text and still was unable to format it the way I want to. 

Using confluence editor is easily the most frustrating experience I ever had producing a document.

Please, please, let us write in markdown! 

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It is obvious that Confluence can give a rats @55. They haven't responded in months.

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Cannot upvote this enough.

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I recently found the updated editor option and admittedly it is much better.

Where did you find that and what version of Confluence Server/Cloud are you using?

Looks like this has been an ongoing theme for years??

I would think that companies would listen to their customers and offer what they are looking for.  Oh wait, customer service went out the window years ago and we must conform to what is provided and not what is requested / wanted by the customers.

I'm trying to center a table that has 4 columns and 13 rows that includes a header row.

I can't seem to find an easy way to do this, Indenting doesn't work, The Centering option doesn't work.

We shouldn't have to add a bunch of add ins or macros in order to complete such a simple task.

If I had on option to use any other application I would, but I don't, this is the Application our company chose.

I agree, this editor is the worst. I just want to make a nested list. Seems impossible, Reading the comments here make me want to give up.

Like Aquaflix GbR likes this

It seems there is no possible way to write good looking markdown documents in bitbucket.org. 

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