Atlassian Confluence, the collaboration platform darling favored by DevOps, Agile, and technical writing teams has some limited mobile features. Most often, when you access a Confluence space using a mobile device, you'll see a mobile optimized version of Confluence.
At the time of publication, there's only limited mobile access to Confluence features. You can't add or edit pages or blog posts. There's no editing existing comments either.
While writing this article I used Atlassian Confluence Cloud available at a range of pricing tiers.
Experiencing Confluence on a mobile device
Confluence selects the mobile or desktop interface based on your device, but you can still switch to the desktop site on your mobile by choosing menu then choosing Switch to the desktop version. Figure A shows an example of the Confluence desktop as seen on an iPad running Mobile Safari:
I'd like to see Atlassian launch a native iOS and Android app Confluence client app. Unfortunately, a check of the App Store shows that third parties develop native mobile apps for Jira (Atlassian's other popular platform, and an agile/DevOps darling in its own right). There's lots of good work being done out there around mobile collaboration, with ample opportunities for contribution from Atlassian.
Optionally, you can switch back and forth between desktop and mobile views using your mobile device's browser. Just click on the Switch to Confluence Mobile link at the top of the page. When using an iPad and the native mobile Safari browser, I was able to:
- View my Confluence dashboard
- View pages, and blog posts
- View Confluence user profiles
- Create or reply to a comment
- Like a page, blog post, and comment
- Watch a page or blog post
- See your notifications
- See tasks
When using a mobile device, the Confluence dashboard displays popular content, recent blog posts that you'd otherwise see using a desktop browser. You'll also be able to see updates from people in your Confluence network. Figure B shows an example of popular content:
Using Confluence features from a mobile device
You can tap your way through many of the common user tasks in Confluence.
Searching Confluence from a mobile device
A big use case for accessing Confluence is to search for content related to one project or another. You can search by tapping the menu icon (top left of page). Next, type the text specifying your search. Alternatively, you can also search for other Confluence users.
Confluence mobile interface offers quick navigation search only returning matches to page title. You'll need to switch to desktop mode to use the full Confluence search.
Viewing pages, blog posts and comments
Tap a link on the dashboard or any other page for Confluence to display the linked page, blog post or comment. You'll be able to view the content in your mobile browser. I didn't notice any show stoppers during my testing and found the page rendering to be quite readable. Figure C shows an example of a Confluence page:
Viewing user profiles
You can search for an individual's name and then tap on the name to view their Confluence user profile. Optionally, tap the phone, SMS, or email option to message the individual directly from your device.
Following up on notifications
When you receive a Confluence notification, you can respond to it using your mobile device. Just tap the menu icon on the top left corner of the screen. The menu panel appears. Choose Notifications, and tap a notification to see its details. You have to reply, watch, or like the notification.
You can view and manage your tasks on your phone or another mobile device too. Tap the menu icon to open the menu panel on the left of the page. Choose Tasks then tap a task to see its details.
Mobile means no macros
A big thing you need to know about going mobile with Confluence is that some macros may not appear when you access a space using a mobile device because Confluence mobile doesn't fully support macros. While I wasn't very happy when I first learned this about Confluence mobile, but you can say the same thing about SharePoint and mobile access as well.
If you view a page that contains an unsupported macro, you will see a message inviting you to click through to the desktop version of the page. Figure D shows an example of how a macro appears on a mobile device:
Administrators and Confluence mobile
Administrators can disable Confluence mobile on your site by disabling the Confluence Mobile plugin.
Atlassian Confluence and a mobile workforce
I've written about some of the excellent work being done by cloud collaboration providers and their partners to enable mobile access and collaboration. I'd like to be able to edit Confluence content from a mobile device. However, I still think there's just enough mobile access to serve project teams who need to reference project documentation residing in a Confluence space.
Will Kelly is a freelance technical writer and analyst currently focusing on enterprise mobility, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), and the consumerization of IT. He has also written about cloud computing, Big Data, virtualization, project management applications, Google Apps, Microsoft technologies, and online collaboration for TechRepublic and other sites. Will also works as a contract technical writer for clients in the Washington, DC area and nationwide. Follow Will on Twitter: @willkelly.