So, on Friday, I had a job to update some documentation. Specifically, I had to update the code examples on a Confluence document.
No problem… or so I thought. The issue I faced was that it seems the Confluence application is getting too clever for its own good. Honestly, I’d be happier with a plain textarea which took some Wiki syntax such as Markdown… or heck… plain HTML! I use WordPress on this blog here, and while the editor here isn’t bad, I’m thankful that going to the source editor is just a click away, as there’s some things the WYSIWYG editor can’t do well (inline code), or even at all (tables).
The editor in Confluence is much less polished. Navigating with the arrow keys is an unpredictable experience, sometimes it moves by single lines, sometimes it jumps a page. Sometimes, starting several lines deep in a code block, a single up-arrow will move you to the line above, sometimes it moves you to some line in a paragraph above the code block. It’s an exercise in frustration.
Fine, I thought, I’ll just copy and paste the code into qvim. Highlight… copy… paste… ohh brilliant, it’s now all stuffed onto one line! Thankfully what I was editing, was JSON, so it’s real easy to re-format that, vim makes it real easy to pipe the buffer contents through an arbitrary external program such as python -m json.tool. This lacked the flexibility to auto-format the JSON the way the code examples were formatted though, so I made a work-alike that made use of Python’s OrderedDict to sort the keys a bit more logically, and told json.dump to indent the code with 2-space indentation (this is how the existing examples were formatted).
Having done this, I thought I’d make mention to Atlassian about the issues with their editor. I hit the Feedback link up the top of the page. I pointed out the issues I was having. In closing I also pointed out how sluggish their system was. The desktop PC at work is a 8-core AMD Ryzen 7 1700 with 16GB of DDR4. Not a slow machine. Maybe it’s rose-coloured glasses, but I recall having a smoother editing experience with Microsoft Word for Windows 6.0 on my 33MHz 486/DX, which sported a whopping 8MB RAM. Hot stuff back in 1994. My present desktop does fine with LibreOffice, and this WordPress blog works fine in it, so I know it’s not my browser or hardware. Yet Confluence struggles, on a PC that has 8 times the CPU cores, each running at nearly 10 times the clock speed, and with 2048 times the amount of RAM to boot.
I composed my feedback and sent it Friday afternoon. I left the browser window open while I submitted the feedback, and went home. This morning, I get in, enter my password to unlock the workstation, and see this:
Atlassian feedback … *still* sending after a whole week-end!
Yep, about 2kB of plain text has taken more than 50 hours to make its way from my desktop to their back-end servers. Did a feral cat interrupt their RFC-1149 based Internet link?