Why upgrading to Confluence 6.0 or higher is a good move


Posted by
Sultan MAIYAKI

May 23, 2017

Confluence is Atlassian’s collaboration and documentation tool that has been in existence since 2004. Like any other Atlassian product, Confluence evolves for major releases every 6 months. Now for each major release comes breath-taking features added to the software to make work easier and increase productivity. This article will go through all the features introduced from Confluence 6.0 to the latest 6.2.  I bet that after reading this article, it will be clear you’ll want to upgrade – and sooner rather than later!

Confluence 6.0 features

Collaborative editing

This feature is the highlight of Confluence 6.0. As the name implies, collaborative editing gives you the benefit of editing a page in real time with your colleagues. It provides the flexibility of seeing who is editing the same page as you and what exactly they are editing. This is shown by cursors with markers carrying the users’ initials. Furthermore, users’ icons appear on the top right of the page as a reference. This is what the page editing looks like:

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The good thing is that your work is being saved automatically and synced with the work of your colleagues. Once you are done editing and want to exit the page, Confluence gives you several options:

  1. Publish: This will make everyone’s work, including those of your colleagues, visible to other users.
  2. Keep draft: This will close the editor and save everyone’s work for an opportunity to complete it at a later date. Your colleagues can still go ahead to publish their work. Your work will still be in your draft. You can resume your work by heading to Profile > Drafts
  3. Discard everyone’s changes: This is destructive because it means any unpublished work of your colleagues will be lost, so therefore Confluence will give you a warning message.

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It is good to know that this feature is brought to you courtesy of Synchrony running as a background process on your server. Head to  > General Configuration > Collaborative editing to view, monitor and configure this feature.

Copy and delete page hierarchies

In a nutshell, this feature gives you the flexibility to manage many pages within Confluence without using clients like WebDav. With page hierarchies you can perform the following tasks:

Copy page hierarchies: You can now copy a page and all its children on the fly. The good thing is you can change the titles of the page as well and choose the locations where the copies will be placed. A good use case of this feature is when you will want to create a new space with some standard hierarchies.

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Delete page hierarchies: This features allows you to bulk delete pages within a hierarchy.

Colour epics

The JIRA issue macro now displays epics in technicolour. This is just a cosmetic feature which is good for the look and feel.

Confluence 6.1 features

Team Playbook blueprints

Atlassian has shared their secret sauce to unleashing their team’s potential in a book coined the Atlassian Team Playbook. If you want to implement some of the techniques used, then worry not – Atlassian has bundled the Team Playbook blueprints into Confluence 6.1. These blueprints consist of four templates:

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  1. DACI decision: DACI is a well-known framework that helps the management team in making informed decisions based on your team members’ roles and responsibilities.
  2. Health Monitor: Atlassian has come up with eight common attributes that you can use as a baseline to gauge the well-being of your team. It comes with monitors for three different types of teams: Software teams, leadership teams and service teams.
  3. Experience canvas: This blueprints makes it easy for you to share your work with your team and stakeholders. This is because it shows clarity on the problem you are trying to solve, who is involved and the success of your hypothesis.
  4. Project poster: While this is similar to the experience canvas, this template allows you to examine your idea by making a poster that helps visualise the problem, ideas and what success would look like.

I strongly recommend that you go through the Atlassian Team Playbook and try to use these blueprints!

Improved collaborative editing

Collaborative editing introduced in 6.0 had some configuration changes, like having to configure a reverse proxy server and the fact that users who weren’t connected via webSocket were not able to live edit. With 6.1, those two main issues were addressed. You no longer need to make changes to your reverse proxy and there is now an automated way to fallback to XHR if  the WebSockets connection fails.

Deployment of Confluence Data Center on AWS made easy

Are you using Confluence Data Center for high availability and failover of your instance, performance and scalability? If yes, you will know that it involves creating nodes of Confluence instances, sharing the same database with a load balancer that sits on top of the nodes to distribute requests from users to the clustered nodes. As this can be overwhelming, Atlassian has partnered with AWS to develop the Confluence Data Center on AWS, where within minutes you can configure and administer a Data Center in a new or existing VPC. The architecture is as below:

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With this partnership, you have the following flexibilities:

  1. Quick Start – easy set up within minutes!
  2. As your nodes are on EC2 instances in auto-scaling groups, it will be easy for you to scale up as your organisation grows!
  3. Cost effective. You don’t pay for the quick start, just for the normal Confluence Data Center license and for using the AWS infrastructure.

SAML single sign-on for Data Center

SAML is now becoming the de facto for a secure, single sign-on for tools. Like JIRA Data Center, Confluence Data Center also now supports SAML 2.0, giving you the flexibility to use providers like OneLogin, Okta, ADFS, Azure and so much more.

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Other improvements

  1. Out of the box support for Chinese (simplified) language pack.
  2. Safe startup: This is a big win for the sysadmins! During start of Confluence, you can opt to disable all user installed add-ons or disable specific add-ons. This is very helpful for troubleshooting.

    ./start-confluence.sh --disable-all-addons
     ./start-confluence.sh --disable-addons=com.valiantys.test.plugin,com.valiantys.test2.plugin
    start-confluence.bat /disablealladdons
    start-confluence.bat /disableaddon=com.valiantys.test.plugin,com.valiantys.test2.plugin

Confluence 6.2 features

No need to wait for feedback

In 6.2, you can now invite your colleagues to edit – they get a notification with a link that takes them directly to your page. You can also get the link and invite them via chat or text. The invitation can be determined by name, email or Confluence group.

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Faster resolution of permission roadblocks

When you are invited to collaborate on a page or even when a link is shared with you and the page has restrictions, Confluence now gives you an option to easily request access. To that effect, the following changes are incorporated:

  1. You can now request access on page with editing restrictions
  2. Confluence will provide you with a list of space admins to contact if you are invited to a page which you don’t have adding or editing permissions.

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Share with ease

The share button is now a first class citizen on page views. It has been moved out from the  menu to its very own button! This is small change, however it is a significant win for productivity!

Atlassian Performance Testing Framework

Confluence 6.2 improved the AWS Quick Start to configure Confluence Data Center.

Before making any commitments,  you can load Data Center with some data to mimic a real world scenario of your instance and then generate series of graphs that you can use to compare vital statistics. The good thing about this framework is that it automatically destroys the instances it deployed to avoid incurring further infrastructure expenses. This is a big win for you to estimate the usage and gauge how reliable your system will be, allowing you to forecast the growth in your organisation.

More language packs

Going from the introduction of Chinese language pack in 6.1, Confluence 6.2 has added more support for Finnish, Italian, Norwegian and Romanian.

In addition to the above new packs, there is also significant improvements for the French, German, Russian and Spanish packs.

Performance improvements

In every release of Confluence, efforts are made to increase the performance. The issues fixed in 6.2 are worth mentioning:

  • LDAP synchronisation issues are now dealt with gracefully.
  • The page properties report and index macros are now far more stable and perform better.
  • The issue of CPU spikes and out of memory (OOM) errors when generating thumbnails from uploaded files is now very resilient.
  • The page index macro is now very less keen to cause OOM errors in huge spaces.

As you can see, updating to Confluence 6.0  or higher is a must-do! New features such as collaborative editing, Team Playbook blueprints and and a Quick Start for Confluence Data Center will greatly improve your productivity!

If you aren’t sure how to access all these new features, our certified consultants at Valiantys will be happy to walk you through the process. Hit the button below to get in touch!