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What's the best way to track changes on Confluence?

As an editor with many years using Microsoft Word and some time collaborating live with Google Docs, there are two features that I miss very hardly on Confluence:

  • The first is the ability to comment while editing. If I'm writing for a team, I want to be able to communicate my thoughts to my colleagues as I go.  I find that creating text 'for consumption' while adding meta-text can be really productive and save meetings and clarifications. As things stand, I now have to save, exit, comment, and go back to where I was. This task flow is very disruptive and can't be sustained meaningfully. There's one app on the marketplace, Talk!, but it has important limitations. For once, it doesn't highlight the first level text that is being commented.
  • The second limitation is easy change tracking. Granted, Confluence has both version control and change notifications; but none of them is as usable as the equivalent features on Word and Google Docs for a simple reason: changes can't be passively tracked in view mode.

Take this use case: a designer creates a landing page for an event and grabs the copy from Confluence. When changes are made later on confluence, my designer misses the notification because his inbox is full of them. When he goes back to that page for review, he needs to remember when was the last time he accessed the page, compare that version with his landing page and then compare with the current version. If that process feels tedious, he may not access page histories again.

Imho there should be an option to activate change control or add text as suggestions, so users can view pages and immediately know what has changed since the decision to track changes was made.

3 comments

I could see change tracking being maybe not-a-lot-of-work for a plugin. The versions are already there, so all the plugin would need to is keep track of what version was last viewed (or provide a "mark as reviewed" button) and then present a "compare with last visited/reviewed version" button that goes to the pre-existing diff between that version and current.

Like # people like this

I have not seen any way to add comments, but you can track the changes in the comparative view.

To use this:

  1. Navigate to the document in Confluence.
  2. Click the ... button in the upper right corner.
  3. Select Page History.
  4. Check the version last viewed as well as the newest version.
  5. Click the "Compare selected versions" button.

The resulting view will show all changes using a colour coded method and there is a key to note additions and deletions.

Is there any way to add comments directly when viewing recent changes without having to look at the page history to see what changes have been made and then view the document to add comments to those changes ? 

Like # people like this

Has anyone solved this? I guess comparing two versions of the page is a decent workaround for tracking changes (although it still doesn't let you see the contributors for those changes), however, commenting option would be really helpful.

Like Capi _resolution_ likes this

Hi @Tazo Lezhava 

Welcome to the Community! If you're on Confluence Cloud, the big change is that you can now create and read comments while editing a page (the first bullet point in my original comment).

Tracking changes still has to be done through the history. I think it's safe to bet for a simple practice like highlighting changes in a color or keeping them in comments.

Like Tazo Lezhava likes this

Thanks @Capi _resolution_ (Happy Holidays!), unfortunately I'm on confluence server, and I think the feature you're referring to isn't there.

The only way to do it I've found so far is to:

  1. edit the page
  2. add comment in the "What did you change?" area
  3. save without editing
  4. add change history macro to see these comments (or modify this macro a bit)

But I don't trust this method is sustainable, as it's very inconvenient. 

Like Capi _resolution_ likes this

@Tazo Lezhavaunderstood. Unfortunately the functionality I mentioned is not present in either Confluence Server or Data Center, and it is not on the public roadmap. And yes, the method you mention does not seem sustainable, particularly if you want to roll it out to a larger team or for general adoption.

If a strong commenting feature would solve your use case, you may be interested in checking this app for a workaround: Talk.

Stilsoft is a renowned vendor and they have continuously improved this product over the years. I tested it for my company a couple of years ago and it was a decent solution.

Hope that helps, and please do comment back here with your experience either way, it will be helpful to others.

So it sounds like there isn't a way to track changes in the same way you can in Word and in Gsuite?

It really depends on what platform you're on. It's not same as in Word but track changes should be available on all platforms, and you can add comments on the "current version" (I think) if you're on Cloud or Data Center

@Tazo Lezhava do you know how I turn on track changes if they are available? I can't seem to find them. I do see how to add comments, but not a way to edit the document in an "editing mode" that gives other authors the opportunity to accept or reject the changes

the only way I know is to go page history, which you find in drop-down menu (usually on the top right corner), and then compare any two versions of the page.

I don't think there is any way you can do exactly what you want, the way it works I think is you have to "accept" all the changes at once.

@Heather Blue It's as Tazo says, you can't really track changes individually.

The main reason is that the nature of Confluence is being a collaborative wiki. Every user with permission to edit is supposed to contribute towards an always living document.

If you really need to track changes for approvals, you may have to work with embedding google docs or word. As simple as that.

Darn thats a real bummer...hopefully they consider adding that feature, its really useful.

What do you mean by embedding Gdocs?

The Confluence Cloud team is working very hard at improving the UI. But honestly, this is a fundamental aspect that I doubt will become a top priority -- once you get used to Confluence, you essentially learn to work around it.

Depending on your use case, it can be helpful to work on document reviews on gdocs and embedding them in your Confluence pages with apps like this one. 

This can be useful for marketing, for example. But it would be cumbersome if what you are tracking is documentation that essentially will remain in Confluence.

after a few people mentioned Gdocs, I remembered one other way is you can upload the Microsoft Word doc as part of Microsoft Word Macro in confluence page, and using the Companion App (definitely available for Data Center) you can do edits locally that are automatically synced with the version on confluence.

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