After a tumultuous and slightly short-lived affair with Sharepoint, I was introduced to Confluence and I was quickly won over by its simplistic UI and text editor. However, three years later I’m starting to feel disillusioned and frustrated with it. Here are some of the reasons why:
Confluence has become bloated. I’m not sure if it’s a result of popularity or customers’ demands for new features but the feature set has been bloated while the basic functionality is neglected. It’s like a pet dog that has become fat and lazy from too many treats.
Any frequent user of Confluence will be aware of the numerous bugs that seem to go unfixed for long periods of time. We encountered a bug last week where images were breaking when copying a page (we later discovered this was caused by the image name having a colon).
Another common bug, which has caused me grief in the past, relates to being unable to export pages as PDFs for various reasons. This case, first reported in 2014, is still affecting customers two years later: https://jira.atlassian.com/browse/CONF-34275
To do anything useful or practical with the vanilla version of Confluence you need to install expensive plugins. Want to use versioning? You need buy a plugin. Want to translate your content? You need to buy a plugin.
Apart from the additional costs, my main issue with this is only a handful of plugins are built and maintained by Atlassian so you either have to take the risk of using a free plugin that will break in the future or you have rely on a third party developer to continue supporting it to ensure it works with newer versions of Confluence.
4. Basic Missing Features
The basic text editor in Confluence, the thing at the heart of the software, is still pretty poor and even things like basic formatting are a chore unless you manipulate the CSS.
Off the top of my head, the things that annoy me include: you can’t insert certain macros directly after another macro or a table because they will break or it will mess up your formatting, you can’t create a table without borders (unless you have Source Editor), you can’t choose different fonts or font sizes (unless you import them in the CSS), you can’t change the background colour, you can’t justify your text and you can’t remove historical attachments that have been uploaded to a page in the past. These are all things I’ve just accepted as Confluence-isms, things you just have to accept that Atlassian aren’t going to fix any time soon.
Despite all these things, Confluence is not cheap. If you’re a company with 100 or more employees, the Cloud version will set you back 3,000 dollars (£2,419) each year:
On reflection, it’s pretty scandalous how much they are charging when so many bugs still exist, basic text editing functions are missing and most companies will need to install and pay for further plugins to get it to meet their requirements. Unfortunately, until someone comes up with a decent alternative I don’t see things changing.
Have you found a decent alternative that can be used for wiki content or software documentation/online help? If so, please let me know!