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June 27, 2005 / jnolen

New Confluence diff features

You may remember a post I did a while back comparing the diff features of several wiki vendors. I did it mostly because I was frustrated by the lack of functionality provided and I thought it could be done better. I put together a quick demonstration of the functionality I was imagining.

Atlassian recently released Confluence 1.4 (demo site here) and they made several improvements that I want to point out.

Take a look at this page where you can see the entire history of a given page and select arbitrary versions to compare. Here is an older version of the page, which has a clear warning that you are viewing out-of-date content and provides links to move between different versions. And as you can see from this page which compares two older versions Confluence has added navigation at the top that allows you to step between versions, as well as a convenient way to jump through the changes in a very long page.

Unfortunately, Confluence still hasn’t addressed the most fundamental problem I mentioned in my original post: there are still no diffs of the rendered content. As I said earlier, the lack of diffed content is “somewhat inelegant as it forces readers to mentally translate the markup in order to really understand what changes have been made. And it’s needlessly confusing for non-technical users: people who are readers but not authors.” I strongly feel that both markup and content diff are necessary. I also still wish that Confluence allowed you to comment on your changes.

But this is definitely an improvement over the previous version. It implements several of the usability features that I asked for. And it looks slick. It’s a solid step forward and I’m sure that it will continue to improve incrementally in forthcoming versions.

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