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Update to default sort order for newly created pages Edited

Elaine H_ Atlassian Team Dec 04, 2018

Hi Community! My name is Elaine and I’m a Confluence Product Manager. I want to discuss with you a recent change we made to the default placement of newly created pages in the page tree.

In the past, newly created pages were added to the page tree by alphabetical order (natural sort order to be exact). We made a change to place the new page at the bottom under the parent page instead. In other words, new pages are now added to the page tree by date created.

This change was driven by a shift in how teams use Confluence. In early days, Confluence was primarily used for documentation with relatively static structure and content. With more teams adopting Confluence for project collaboration, their content is more dynamic and users more diverse. Alphabetic order has its limitations, especially in a constantly changing environment.

Based on our user learnings, we believe this new default sort order together with drag & drop page reordering in the page tree (coming soon) suit the needs of the majority of teams using Confluence today.

For those of you who may find alphabetical order more relevant, it's still available under Space Settings -> Content Tools -> Reorder Pages as explained on Move, Copy, and Hide Pages.

Every team’s need is unique when it comes to organizing information. We would like to hear your feedback on this change, understand how you organize your Confluence space, and discuss ideas on where we can help. Thank you!

7 comments

You should allow each user to be able to select which option they want. We use ours mainly for documentation so sorting alphabetically is important. Now I have to keep going in to Reorder Pages to sort manually which is a PITA.

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The same is valid for the alternative suggestion "For those of you who may find alphabetical order more relevant, it's still available under Space Settings -> Content Tools -> Reorder Pages"

Every time you create a page, you manually need to go there and reorder. Nice "improvement".

Like David Hopkins likes this

@Koosh Shah and @Christian Bell, I hear your concern. We are aware that alphabetical order may be more effective for some use cases. Yours seem to be the case. The Space Settings suggestion is the best possible workaround at the moment. We have room to improve. We plan to continue iterating on this and explore other ways to help you organize your Confluence content.

Do you mind sharing a bit more about your particular use case? This will really help us come up with better solutions to solve the organization problems you face using Confluence. For example,

  • What kind of content do you put in Confluence?
  • Who create pages? Who organize pages? Who look for and view pages via the page tree?
  • How do page authors name the title of a page to make alphabetical order useful for viewers looking for it?
  • Have you tried other sorting approaches to compare? Where do you see alphabetical sorting excel from the perspectives of content creator, organizer, and viewer respectively?
  • Are you aware of the sidebar page tree drag & drop reordering feature we're rolling out? How do you think of it and manual page ordering in general?

If you prefer to discuss this privately, please let me know. I can make arrangement. Thank you for your time.

@Elaine H_I can give you more information in a private discussion. Just contact me.

Elaine H_ Atlassian Team Dec 18, 2018

@Christian Bell, you can reach out to me at:

ask-confluence-cloud  at  atlassian.com

We'll go from there. Thank you much!

Hi Elaine,

for us it is also a big pain. We are using Confluence since three years (and before several years in another company) and we rely on alphabetic order. The change came suddenly last autumn and caused already some problems internally costing us time and money.

We use pages names like "2018-12-14 - Meeting x and y" etc. or start page names with a customer ID etc. All this is based on alphabetic order.

Now, our system which works out for year and everybody uses is not working anymore. Changing such a behaviour without having a chance for a button for the "old" behaviour is a big, big pain!

I would be great to include a option how Confluence deals with new pages (alphabetic or chronological).

Best,

   Sebastian

Elaine H_ Atlassian Team Jan 22, 2019

Hi Sebastian,

Thank you for sharing the details on how your team organizes pages to take advantage of the alphabetical order. I can imagine the extra effort you have to make to keep your Confluence running and acknowledge the current workaround is not desirable in your situation.

In our plan, we're not throwing away alphabetical order. The current state is an early stage of an iterative reengineering effort of our product. In fact, we want to bring back alphabetical order and are also considering adding more flexibility around how pages are organized and viewed.

Point taken on opportunity for us to manage product changes better. We're working on communicating product changes more proactively and in advance.

There are two aspects of this I'd like to hear your thoughts on:

  • For alphabetical order to work, I imagine it would require a thoughtfully planned and rigorously followed page naming convention and other organization rules. Often times, this requires a lot of effort and discipline. We've heard from some customers that they had a hard time keeping up and ended up with a mess where things were hard to find. How did you make it work in your organization? Any word of advice to share with the community?
  • We've also learnt that people have different preferences when it comes to how to classify and find information. Do you believe there can be one single organization system (in this case alphabetically sorted page tree) that could fit all your users' needs?

Please feel free to comment here, or if you prefer a 1:1 chat on these, you can reach us at the following email:

ask-confluence-cloud  at  atlassian dot com

 

Thank you,

Elaine

Hi Elaine,

thank you for your answer. Yes, it is a big mess. And especially painful, because we had no choice to refuse this new "feature" and there was no warning in advance. So it is good to here, that a) alphabetic order will come back and b) you will anounce new features in advance in future. Perfect would be not just changing just important things, but give user an option.

To your first question: We know Confluence since several years and we knew the alphabetic order characteristic from beginning on. So we saw it as feature and made use of it. All team members knew in advance. What you ask is a organisatoric not a technical question. Maybe you could add a DropDown list with option like "Alphabetic order" and "Chronological order" and for each user and space this option is saved? So common used spaces could be alphabetic, but personal spaces chronological etc.

Second question: For us, alphabetic. ;-) But it is like in my e-mail client. Normally I need is chronolgical, but sometimes sorted for names alphabetic etc. So I come back to my suggestion above.

Best,

   Sebastian

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I arrived here so that I could once and for all figure out why my organizations pages are also not sorting alphabetically.

@Elaine H_ I read your reply:

In our plan, we're not throwing away alphabetical order. The current state is an early stage of an iterative reengineering effort of our product. In fact, we want to bring back alphabetical order and are also considering adding more flexibility around how pages are organized and viewed.

... but it's discouraging to hear given that the original post was over a year ago.  For what little it's worth, my opinion is that the Atlassian team should have supported a default sorting method *before* changing the behavior.  

Either way, here I am, without the ability to do something that seems basic: sort pages alphabetically by default.

Agreed.. i'd love to see the "sort" option right on the side bar. Sort By filter dropdown with 2 options, MRU, Alpha

This change is terrible, and the way to deal with it is ludicrous. 

I can understand some users wanting a configuration option to sort by date, but the way you've solved those user's problem wrecks it for everyone else. 

Just let it be a global setting for the space, and allow people to manually override it per set of child pages. 

Between this change, the removal of nested tables, and the new UI design, Confluence just keeps getting worse.

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I feel like this is a bug; the old functionality was very elegant:

  • By default, newly-created pages sorted alphabetically within the parent page.
  • If the order of child pages within the parent page was manually changed, the alphabetical sort order for that page was turned off. Newly-added pages would be added to the end of the list, preserving the manual order within that parent page.
  • If you went to Reorder Pages and clicked the AZ alphabetical sort button on a page, the sort order for its child pages would be reset to alphabetical, and newly-added child pages within that branch of the hierarchy again would be automatically sorted in alphabetical order.

This behavior gives users the best of both worlds--alpha sort by default or manual sort by default. It handled what everyone wants, whether their flavor is alphabetical or "add to the end."

I encourage you to reopen https://jira.atlassian.com/browse/CONFCLOUD-64922.

Dave Todaro

Author, The Epic Guide to Agile

Like Christian Bell likes this
Elaine H_ Atlassian Team May 01, 2019

Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us, Dave. I understand that from your perspective, if it doesn't work in a way that addresses your need, it's broken as a bug. We closed CONFCLOUD-64922 following internal workflow. Rest assured, this issue is now on our product backlog.

As discussed in my earlier response to Sebastian,

  • The current behavior is not how we've planned for the future. We've been going through major reengineering while building new features such as page tree drag & drop that have been well received by Confluence customers. This is one of those hard tradeoffs we had to make in the short term.
  • Besides bringing back the previous experience, we're exploring various options to solve for the sorting problem. One approach is to give individual users the ability to sort in any way (including by alphabetical order) they need without affecting the shared hierarchy. This is based on our customer learning that how people browse/search is a highly personal and situational choice. Meanwhile, this may reduce the pressure/effort to rigorously maintain a one-size-fits-all tree structure.

I'd love to hear your thoughts about this and anything on your mind around this topic.

If you'd like a 1:1 chat, you can email:

   ask-confluence-cloud  at  atlassian dot com

Ask for Elaine in your email and I'll follow up.

Hello.

It is a very inconvenient to use such strange approach: we waste a lot of time to find needed page in the list

Is any hope that it could be fixed some time?

Like Andrew Chen likes this

Just to add to the mix..  I would love it both ways.. lol

On the side bar I need the pages sorted Alpha. We use the sidebar page list like an index in a document. As i expect most people do. 

On the root page of each section I have a "Child Pages" macro that lists all sub pages by Last Edit date  .. simply displaying that list as an MRU (Most Recently Used) .. 

This gives us the best of both worlds. 

e.g.  we have a full space built as doc for an application. Build doc as well as Dev doc are in this one project space. The sidebar list IS our index.. and if you click on 06 Testing, sub section 03 Test Scripts you'll see the MRU where the most recently edited files are on top.

The biggest PITA here is that we have to manually re sort the file list EVERYTIME I change a page name or add a new page.

Our team is finding that even after sorting alphabetically in Reorder Pages, that sort is not stored.  If you refresh the screen, it goes back to modified date sort.  We are in an old Confluence version, though, so that may be the problem.  6.4.3.  Also, the sidebars cannot be sorted alphabetically since sorting on the reorder pages page doesn't store the sort preference.

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