What is Bob Swift Command line plugin and why can it fetch data not available via REST APIs?

I find this a bit strange.

Currently, there is no REST APIs for Confluence Questions [1], but apparently there is a serie of plugins from "Bob Swift" called "Command Line Interface (CLI)", such as this:

https://marketplace.atlassian.com/plugins/org.swift.confluence.cli

Which has an API to get the list of questions:

https://bobswift.atlassian.net/wiki/display/CSOAP/Reference#Reference-getQuestionList

 

Is this "Bob Swift" company special or just another company that does third party addons? How come they can read and write data without official public APIs? Im so confused how this works smile

 

 

[1] https://jira.atlassian.com/browse/CQ-376

2 answers

1 accepted

4 votes
Joe Clark Atlassian Team Mar 24, 2015

@Bob Swift [Bob Swift Atlassian Add-ons] (who now works for AppFire) is "just another company" that does third party add-ons, although Bob himself has been around the Atlassian space for a long time and I would say is one of the most well-known and trusted add-on developers.

In addition to providing a simple interface to Atlassian's published, official APIs (SOAP, XML-RPC and REST), the CLI also employs a number of other 'tricks' to expose parts of Atlassian products without an official API.  Firstly, some of the functions in the CLI actually send screen-scraping requests to JIRA and Confluence that emulate behaviour of a browser to achieve the desired goal.  Secondly, there are also unoffficial Atlassian APIs.  For example, Confluence Questions does already expose a REST API eg. https://answers.atlassian.com/rest/questions/1.0/questions - this API is not documented and has no guarantees on forwards/backwards compatability (yet! Until the CQ team commits to working on https://jira.atlassian.com/browse/CQ-376) - but if you want to dig into the Confluence Questions source code, many of the basic API operations are already technically possible.

 

Also, if CQ-376 does make changes that break the CLI functions (if the CLI is using them), you can rely on Bob to get it updated really quickly. And update for any new functions as well.

Joe is correct, as usual ;). We use any available APIs and a few other things to support specific use cases. Usually the best one available at the time the function is provided and then migrate over to new ones when they become available. Specific to Questions, we have been using the undocumented REST APIs for some time and they have (so far) been stable. We needed the support for our own website implementation of Questions to create standard topics, etc... about a year ago. With the CLI we are able to have version specific method implementations so we can readily adapt to a changed or new API while maintaining a compatible CLI interface across multiple server releases. Once the documented APIs are available, there might be some small adjustments needed internally.

The Bob Swift CLI uses the publicly documented SOAP API.  It has been invaluable for us.  

Thanks for the compliment! Yes, we do still use many SOAP APIs for JIRA and Confluence, especially in areas not yet covered by newer REST APIs. They will be switched out over time once JIRA and Confluence complete their equivalent REST implementations.

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